Two Years before the Mast
- Two Years Before the Mast is a book by the American author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., published in 1840, having been written after a two-year sea voyage starting in 1834. The term "before the mast" refers to the quarters of the common sailors. Dana did not set out to write Two Years Before the Mast as a sea adventure, but to highlight how poorly common sailors were treated on ships. In the book, which takes place between 1834 and 1836, Dana gives a vivid account of "the life of a common sailor at sea as it really is". He sails from Boston to South America and around Cape Horn to California. Dana's ship was on a voyage to trade goods from the United States. They traded at the ports in San Diego Bay, San Pedro Bay, Santa Barbara Channel, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco Bay. Dana arrived in Alta California when it was a remote province of independent Mexico, and no longer Spanish colonial Las Californias. He spent a season on the San Diego shore preparing hides for shipment to Boston, and his journey home. Dana also makes a tellingly accurate prediction of San Francisco's future growth and significance. On the return trip around Cape Horn in the middle of the Antarctic winter he describes terrifying storms and incredible beauty, giving vivid descriptions of icebergs, and the scurvy that afflicts members of the crew.