June 1833

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
During June we remained in Maldonado, employed about the Adventure, and refitting as well as painting our own ship. Meanwhile Mr. Darwin was living on shore, sometimes at the village of Maldonado, sometimes making excursions into the country to a considerable distance; and my own time was fully occupied by calculations and chart-work, while the officers attended to heaving down the Adventure. This process, in a place partly exposed to south-west winds, was extremely tedious, and had it not been for the great advantages Maldonado and Gorriti offered in other respects, the situation might have been deemed exceedingly ill-chosen for such a purpose. Only when there was no swell could we haul her alongside and heave her down (an operation under any circumstances difficult, as she was one hundred and seventy tons in burthen, and we were but two hundred and thirty-five) and many days sometimes intervened on which no progress could be made.

Every morning, at dawn of day, Lieut. Sulivan and I used to watch the sky most anxiously, in order to know whether it would be worth while unmooring, and warping the vessels together, and as the indications we looked for never deceived us, I will here mention them. Though familiar to all who lead a country or seafaring life, and often rise before the sun, they may be of use to others, whose attention has not been drawn to 'weather wisdom.'
When the first streak of light appeared close to the horizon, and the sun's rising was preceded by a glow of faint red, not extending far, a fine day succeeded, whether the sky were then overcast or clear; but if the first gleam of light appeared high above the horizon, behind clouds, and there was much red, not only near the sun, but visible on clouds even near the zenith, wind, if not rain, was sure to follow. Between the extremes of course there may be many varieties of appearance as well as of succeeding weather; but as I have found such signs followed by similar weather, in most parts of the world, and as I have often profited by them, with reference to making or shortening sail, &c.; I do not like to pass over this occasion for a hint to the inexperienced. I have always found that a high dawn (explained above) and a very red sky, foretold wind—usually a gale; that a low dawn and pale sun-rise indicated fine weather; that the sun setting behind a bank of clouds, with a yellow look, was a sign of wind, if not rain, and that the sun setting in a clear horizon, glowing with red, was an unfailing indication of a coming fine day. I have already said (page 50), that hard-edged, oily-looking clouds, foretell, if they do not accompany wind, and that soft clouds—clouds which have a watery rather than an oily look—are signs of rain; and if ragged, or streaky, of wind also. Light foggy clouds, rising early, often called the 'pride of the morning,' are certain forerunners of a fine day.

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