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The Fortuna a Famous Argentine Sailing Ship

Author: Bob Frassinetti
Published: June, 2004

It was March 1st 1957 when the Buenos Aires-Mar del Plata-Montevideo regatta began.

The twenty six yachts sailed off the Buenos Aires port enthusiastic.

Hours latter, at night the weather changed, winds began to blow strongly southwest.

The quickest and most effective route to Mar del Plata was through the Punta Médanos area; they had to sail scrapping the coast, however there’s an obstacle, the Médanos sand bank, about a mile wide, very deep and with a strong northern flowing that runs between the bank and the coast, enclosed by the sea breaking on the hard sanded bank. Usually not very complicated when sailing with northern wind accompanying. However the weather conditions that night were not optimal, and any flaw in the manoeuvres could be drastic. In this case, the Punta Médanos Lighthouse had not much to do, for the illumination was not the problem.

According to Adriana Pisani who wrote a book about shipwrecks, the Fortuna stranded at about 9 PM on March 2nd due to a break of one of the outriggers that held a parachute; the embarkation made an uncontrolled turn and was pulled of the coastline canal.

The Fortuna had shifted the helm on November 22nd 1949 in Dársena Norte, Buenos Aires. Originally built under a resolution of the Argentine Navy due to the need of proper embarkation for nautical instruction. This was a special craft built during the war years when many of the basic construction materials had to be rationalized. The engineers in charge of the Fortuna were extremely clever people who recycled all kinds of pieces and brought them together into the Fortuna Yacht. Experts say that back then Manuel Campos in charge of the project commented that the lead for the keel was obtained from the already out of order Salta submergible, and many other pieces of the Fortuna were made in this way. The materials used in the Fortuna construction were mainly locally produced; its design combined a solid metal structure with a combination of different techniques strakes, fabric and strakes, gave the ship a solid armor. Structurally the ship was finally length is 19.4 meters, the flotation length is 13.7m ; wind sail 4.33; draught of vessel 2.7; displace 31.5 t. and ballast of leads 10t. Military surface, 182 m2; gear yawl bermuda and sail ARG 222.

Thanks god, the Fortuna yacht –owned by the Escuela Naval Militar (the Argentinean Navy)- had a radio as well as the Juana, also from the ENM, very precarious using a lot of fuel. These were the only two embarkations who owned these kind of technology at that time. Atilio “Coco” Porretti

Commanded the Juana to many the best salvage expert, and sailed towards the Fortuna to assist them in order to get out of the strand, stepping out of the regatta to assist a fellow embarkation in distress. His genius created a system to pull off the Fortuna without damaging the yacht by using the anchor chain though the main mast to the stem and back to the mast. This ingenious strategy express Porretti’s deep knowledge of nautical matters, for he took advantage of the ship’s strongest points to tow the yacht with the only cable available in the Juana, thick and heavy.

The salvage was a success.

The Fotuna arrived to the Mar del Plata port; and on Wednesday 6th they shipped to Puerto Buceo Uruguay in a new regatta organized by the Yacht Club Uruguay. They came in seventh; the first place was won by the Rocket among the other twenty four yachts.

A few years before, in 1954 Fortuna had won the Buenos Aires- Mar del Plata regatta; nevertheless those complications, Fortuna kept on sailing, participating in Regattas and sailing on instructive courses. Perseverance and passion for sailing kept Fortuna running. Nowadays, Fortuna is the yacht with more sailing tradition in Argentina.

Bob Frassinetti is an Argentinean writer and welcomes your thoughts and comments on his articles. His e-mail address is:

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