Two Years Before The Mast

Two Years Before The Mast

3.5 165
by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Richard Henry Dana
     
 

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Two Years Before The Mast is a wonderful, elegantly written adventure classic that is still enjoyable more than one hundred years after its original publication. This is Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s account of his life as a common seaman aboard the brig the Pilgrim which set out from Boston on August 14,1835 destined for California by way of the treacherous Cape

Overview

Two Years Before The Mast is a wonderful, elegantly written adventure classic that is still enjoyable more than one hundred years after its original publication. This is Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s account of his life as a common seaman aboard the brig the Pilgrim which set out from Boston on August 14,1835 destined for California by way of the treacherous Cape Horn.

Dana gives an engrossing, detailed account of the workings of the ship, the day-to-day routines of the deck hands, and the brutal shortcomings of inept, tyrannical officers. This “author’s addition” includes a chapter written by Dana twenty-four years after his initial voyage where he revisits some of the people, places and vessels that he had encountered on his original journey.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582182865
Publisher:
Digital Scanning, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/01/2001
Pages:
488
Sales rank:
786,895
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.25(d)

Read an Excerpt


top hailed, and said he believed it was land, after all. " Land in your eye!" said the mate, who was looking through the telescope; " they are ice islands, if I can see a hole through a ladder"; and a few moments showed the mate to be right; and all our expectations fled; and instead of what we most wished to see we had what we most dreaded, and what we hoped we had seen the last of. We soon, however, left these astern, having passed within about two miles of them, and at sundown the horizon was clear in all directions. Having a fine wind, we were soon up with and passed the latitude of the Cape, and, having stood far enough to the southward to give it a wide berth, we began to stand to the eastward, with a good prospect of being round and steering to the northward, on the other side, in a very few days. But ill luck seemed to have lighted upon us. Not four hours had we been standing on in this course before it fell dead calm, and in half an hour it clouded up, a few straggling blasts, with spits of snow and sleet, came from the eastward, and in an hour more we lay hove-to under a close-reefed main topsail, drifting bodily off to leeward before the fiercest storm that we had yet felt, blowing dead ahead, from the eastward. It seemed as though the genius of the place had been roused at finding that we had nearly slipped through his fingers, and had come down upon us with tenfold fury. The sailors said that every blast, as it shook the shrouds, and whistled through the rigging, said to the old ship, " No, you don't! " " No) you don't! " For eight days we lay drifting about in this manner. Sometimes generally towards noon it fell calm; once or twice a round copper ball showed itselffor a few moments in the place where the sun ought to have been, a puff or two came from t...

Meet the Author

Gary Kinder is the author of Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. He lives in Seattle.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Two Years Before The Mast 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 165 reviews.
oldsmores More than 1 year ago
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.
Winterlight00 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
seniorchief More than 1 year ago
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.
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