15th August 1836

Pernambuco, Brazil
The most curious thing which I saw in the neighbourhood of Pernambuco, is the reef that forms the harbor. It runs for a length of several miles in a perfectly straight line, parallel to & not far distant from the shore; it varies in width from thirty to sixty yards; it is quite dry at low water, has a level smooth surface, & is composed of obscurely stratified hard sandstone: hence at the first sight it is difficult to credit that it is the work of nature & not of art. Its utility is great; close within the inner water, there is a good depth of water, & ships lie moored to old guns, which are fixed in holes on the summit. — A light-house stands on one extremity, & around it the sea breaks heavily. In entering the harbor, a ship passes within thirty yards round this point, & amidst the foam of the breakers; close by, on the other hand, are other breakers, which thus form a narrow gateway: it is almost fearful to behold a ship running, as it appears, headlong into such dangers.

The modern name for the port (also used in Darwin's time) is Recife, literally, "the Reef" (Roger R.)

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