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Two Years Before The Mast (1912)

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Two Years Before the Mast (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free.
This is an OCR edition with typos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780217652896
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 8/16/2009
  • Pages: 138
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER III AS we have now had a long "spell" of fine weather, without any incident to break the monotony of our lives, I may have no better place for a description of the duties, regulations, and customs of an American merchantman, of which ours was a fair specimen. The captain, in the first place, is lord paramount. He stands no watch, comes and goes when he pleases, is accountable to no one, and must be obeyed in everything, without a question, even from his chief officer. He has the power to turn his officers off duty, and even to break them and make them do duty as sailors in the forecastle.1 Where there are no passengers and no supercargo, as in our vessel, he has no companion but his own dignity, and few pleasures, unless he differs from most of his kind, beyond the consciousness of possessing supreme power, and, occasionally, the exercise of it. The prime minister, the official organ, and the active and superintending officer is the chief mate. He is first lieutenant, boatswain, sailing-master, and quarter-master. The captain tells him what he wishes to have done, and leaves to him the care of overseeing, of allotting the work, and also the responsibility of its being well done. The mate (as he is always called, par excellence) also keeps the log-book, for which he is responsible to the owners and insurers, and has the charge of the stowage, safe-keeping, and delivery of the cargo. He is also, ex officio, the wit of the crew; for the captain does not condescend to joke with the men, and the second mate no one cares for; so that when " the mate " thinks fit to entertain " the people " with a coarse joke or a little practical wit, every one feels bound to laugh. 1 There b adoubt of his power to do the latter, The second mate's is proverbially a dog's berth. He ...
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 151 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(47)

4 Star

(37)

3 Star

(25)

2 Star

(17)

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(25)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 160 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2010

    Excellent read - don't know how I missed it for all these years

    Dana writes an eminently readable first-person account of his experiences as a common sailor on a couple of commercial sailing vessels in the mid 19th century. The title references the convention that common sailors were housed in the forecastle of the ship (before the mast), while officers stayed aft. His account of the day-to-day life of a sailor, two crossings of Cape Horn, and the coast of pre-Gold Rush California are fascinating. If you want to gain a sense of the reality behind the romance of large sailing vessels, this is a must-read. His observations of his fellow sailors, officers, and the culture of California give real insight into life in the 1800's.
    Dana's final chapter is a thoughtful essay on the hardships of the sailor's life, with some surprising conclusions on what should and should not be done to improve their lot.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    Great Stuff

    Forget Moby Dick, this is a real story of the sea! It has a remarkably contemparary feel to it and is told in a candid first person that never lags. Melvilles awful fantasy we all were forced to read blatantly rips off this fun, intimate and detailed American masterpiece. Anyone fascinated by the days of tall ships will love this intimate look behind the veil of life at sea.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2011

    Excellent Book

    This is one of the best books I've ever read. It is well written and it's history is amazing. If you're interested in the old "square rigger" sailing days and what it was like on one of these as crew this book will not let you down. It is also a great history book of California. Couldn't put it down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good for sailors

    This explains the old way to sail ships at sea. Having been in the U S Navy 22 years, I loved it and all the nautical terms being used. A sailors life was much different in the 1800's than it is today because of this book. If your not inerested in being at sea, then you'll find this book very boring. If you love the sea as I do, you'll enjoy it very much> I know I did.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    What I Think

    I'm going on a ship on April 28-29. My teacher said I have to read it to see what life was really like in "the olden days." I think it is good so far. I'll have to finish the book to see and so will you! Calikid615

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    The Original Sailing Tale

    This was the first realistic account of what it was like to be a sailor. The author does not spare the reader any of the details of the boat, using all of the terminology of the time. The parts when Dana describes the changes in the sails/rigging tend to lose me. The strongest parts are when Dana turns his observation on the territory of California.

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