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The Voyage History is full of famous sea voyages from Columbuss journey to the new world to the first circumnavigation of Earth by Magellans ship Victoria. In modern atlases colorful dotted lines crisscross the worlds oceans marking the routes of Vasco da Gama and Sir Francis Drake Captain Cook and Jacques Cartier. Their adventures fill our history books and fire our imaginations with the thunder of cannons the horrors of scurvy and the discovery of new lands. Yet within this rich tapestry of triumph and disaster only a few voyages truly altered the course of history. The Beagle expedition is one. Circling the world from 1831 to 1836 the Beagle discovered no new continents fought no decisive sea battles nor returned laden with gold doubloons bolts of silk or exotic spices. But onboard was Charles Darwin. As the expeditions de facto naturalist he explored unknown reefs and volcanoes described new birds and reptiles and unearthed mysterious fossils and shells. He hacked his way through the rain forests of Brazil and clambered to the top of the Andes mountains. He experienced a devastating earthquake which shook the west coast of Chile and explored the tranquil coral islands of the Indian Ocean. From the Antarctic to the tropics Darwin studied the worlds geology plants and animals and as a result forged the most far-reaching theory in the history of science evolution by natural selection. Riding the Tide In 1831 the British Admiralty commissioned HMS Beagle under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy to conduct surveys of the South American coast. The voyage presented a rare opportunity for a naturalist to accompany the expedition and Henslow recommended Darwin. Getting Darwin on board however was fraught with difficulties. First Darwins father objectedhe thought it a waste of time. At one point the position was offered to someone else. And as if there werent enough problems FitzRoy didnt like Darwins nose. As Darwin wrote in his autobiography He FitzRoy was an ardetn disciple of the physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater and was convinced that he could judge a mans character by the outline of his features and he doubted whether anyone with my nose could possess sufficient energy and determination for the voyage. But I think he was afterwards well satisfied that my nose had spoken falsely. The first week of September 1831 was tumultuous. Letters flew back and forth interviews were scheduled and canceled plans made and abandoned. Darwin overcame one obstacle only to face another but his destiny prevailed. On September 5 with the details of the voyage finally settled he wrote to his sister There is indeed a tide in the affairs of men I have experienced it. FitzRoy warned Darwin that space was tight but nothing prepared him for what he found at Devonport on September 13 a ten gun brig rebuilt as a three-masted bark a third mast the mizzen mast had been added before her first voyage ninety feet long with a beam of only twenty-four feet. The Beagle carried more than seventy men and in order to sleep at night Darwin had to remove a drawer to make room for his feet. Lack of space however was the least of his problems. Although the voyage was originally scheduled to leave in October there were many delays while the ship was refitted to FitzRoys 13