U. S. Schn Boxer Pernambuco SA
July 26th 1832
My Dear Father
We arrived here on the 21st inst. 53 days from [Para ] a very long passage, have been driven up to 9o North Lat, and 18o West Long by head winds. I have had good health during the passage, but not good living: our Captn: having put to sea without a full quantity of provisions, and as we drew our ration from the ship; weıre put on the same allowance with the men Viz 7 persons, on 3 ration; to explain the reason of this: since we left the U. S. our Cap. who acts as purser; has recıd no money but what he got previously to [our] leaving the U. S. which was but a small quantity; run short of money and provisions; he would give us, no money; to have our clothes washed or to lay in stores, though he was offered it by the American Consul at [ ] so we were obliged to depend on the Ships Stores. We had for Breakfast a half Biscuit and while our coffee and tea lasted a little of that; when it was gone, we had to take water; for dinner a small bit of Pork or beef and a ½ biscuit, for tea; the same as at Breakfast; our Pork which seemed pretty large before it was cooked, when it was boiled was reduced to a terrible small size; so we eat raw frequently; to have more. We are now in Harbour, thank God, and I hope shall be able to get a supply of grub you will wonder how I got on for linens, some of us got our clothes sent ashore [ in ] to be washed and then applied to the Capt for money [which] he was obliged to give us; I among them, they would not last us however the whole passage, and I have had several washed at sea. To make bad worse, we got out of Liquor and the men began to complain terribly but it was too late. The afternoon of the 1st day it got out we discovered a sail on the weather bow, standing before the wind, we being as close to the wind as we could lay, we hove at for and made all sail, at, 3 fired a gun to Leeward to heave her too. She hove to and hoisted English colors, we sent a boat on board and purchased from her as much liquor as she could spare, 20 Gals, but no provisions. This lasted a short time, about 10 days, we saw many vessels afterwards but did not board any.
The reason of our long passage, was the wind blew right from
the Quarter to [ ] she wished to go, so we laid
as close to the winds as we could, about six points we stood pretty well to the
Northward and Eastward when we had our Easting made and wished to keep away to
the [ &Wd ] the
wind hauled to SSW and there abouts, and in a pretty stiff breeze and drove us
over nearly to Africa, when one evening it became fair and set us off at the
rate of 8 and 9 knots on our course, we were
then lot long in reaching
this port from that time having a strong breeze all this time. While we were between the Lat of 4o
and 9o North and Long 47o & 27o West a
space of one month we had nothing but continuing squalls of wind, and rain every bit of our running rigging
was rotten from being so long exposed to the sea, and ourselves also I do not
believe I was dry four and twenty hours on a stretch the whole time some of our
men who have been to sea all their lives and all the Officers say they never in
the whole course of the sea going were in so much rain. I am sure all the rain I ever seen was
not equal to it and upon the whole I do not believe there ever was such times
about an American Man of War, before or ever will be again. The men are allowed their full ration
by Government, without saying where it is to be had or what price it is to be
given for it, they are allowed it; and they expected that the Commanders of
vessels would never leave a port short of Provisions. Our Captainıs Conduct was very wrong and if charges were
preferred against him, he might rue the deed.
He has done his duty by us, however, by us I mean the Middies: one Captn in a hundred does not care whether his Mids, learn how to navigate a vessel or not and takes no pains with them, if they only let him alone he will not trouble his head about them, our Captn has taken considerable pains with us, and If I were put adrift by myself in charge of a vessel I think I could navigate her safe in to port, that is, I could find the Lat and Long &c for which we have twenty different wayıs not to have the charge of working her, as a Schn is no vessel to learn seamanship from. We have now been 4 times across the Ocean, from America to Africa from there to America, from there to Africa, again, though we did not make the African land we were in the Long. of some parts of it; and from there to So. America again where we are at present, also 3 times across the Equator. From here we will proceed to [ ]or St. Salvador 10 or 12 days sails where we shall remain a week or two, from there to Rio de Janeiro where we shall await the orders of the American Commodore. I have not been on shore here yet that is on liberty though I have been in boats several times. We lay in the outer harbour about 3 miles from the City. The Inner Harbour is formed by a natural reef of such [ ] along is a line for a mile or more over which the sea breaks with great violence inside the reef the water is as smooth as a mill pond, at the one side is a light house about 20 feet from it is a large rock that is the end of the reef and from there to the shore is the passage to the Inner Harbour, this passage is quite smooth when there is no sea on our side, but if it blows fresh outside there is considerable surf over it. I will endeavor to give you an idea of it by a small drawing of it [insert drawing]. When you are inside the reef it appears as if it had been built, something of the appearance of one of our mill dams only the water dashes over it a little harder. Pernambuco contains about 80,000 inhabitants. There is plenty of water in the passage to carry the largest vessels in safely our Captn did intend to go inside and I do not know the reason he did not perhaps he will yet.
The reason I commenced this letter was an American Whaler from round the Horn came in this morning, one of our Officers boarded her this afternoon, and ascertained that she would sail for Newport Rhode Island tomorrow morning, also the news of Commodore Rogers death; who died at Monte Video two months ago, he came out last winter in the Enterprise and took Command of the [ ] Squadron on the Brazil Station. As there are no other American vessels here I determined to write you by this and have been excused from my watch to do it, I have not had much time to gather my thoughts together and I have written you the thimble of news. I hope you will be able to make it out. As to writing one on this passage from [Para] here, was impossible as the Captn had us busy all the time working Lunars taking observations &c, and the time passed very quick from my mind being always engaged by something. I hope you recıd my letter by the Schn Minerva from [Para] and also that on the recıt of it you sent letters for me to Rio de Janeiro. As soon as I have leisure I will write to my friends & acquaintances in Lancaster, Philad & Boston. Our Officers think it not improbable that this Schn will be ordered to convey the body of Commad Rogers to the U.S. as about the time we get to Rio they will have heard from the government, and also from his family, and if it is their wishes to have his body conveyed home one of the vessels of the squadron will convey them, and as our bottom got a severe thumping at Warranham, and wants over hauling very much I think we stand a chance of being sent. I have now upwards of $20 due me and will continue to lay up as much as I can [convently]. Barring our Captains unpopularity among his Officers. I had a very comfortable life, having a very agreeable shipmates and the wardroom officers are also very [clever] to us. One of our Mids ran away from us in Para, John A. Underwood of Portsmouth New Hampshire. He was a very vulgar young man not having brought up in a gentile society also very ignorant, ill behaved &c, he did not like the service and one day he was sent ashore as officer of a boat he took his clothes in her under pretence of his going to have them washed cleared out, left the boat, and that was the last we seen of him. We ascertained that he went to the U.S. on an American Brig and as we did not value his society much none of us missed him. I must now ³knock off² as all hands have been called to stand by their Hammock and if I am[ to too] will not get a chance to send this aboard the ship from [Bolwis] you may expect a letter from me.
God bless you all preserve you in health and happiness and in pray
Your affectionate Son
John Reynolds Esq
U. States of America
By Ship Alliance
For Newport R.I.