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Two Years Before the Mast, Selected Quotes

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

This first quote is funny because it’s a westerner’s first glimpse of a catamaran, the type of boat I’m on.

It was here that I first saw one of those singular things called catamarans. They are composed of logs lashed together upon the water, the men sitting with their feet in the water; have one large sail, are quite fast, and, strange as it may seem, are trusted as good as sea boats.

I assure you that they’ve come a long way since being “logs lashed together.”

The rest of the quotes are about California in 1835-6. Dana spends more than a year going up and down the coast from San Diego to San Francisco, stopping in Monterey, San Pedro and Santa Barbara, gathering 40,000 hides to take back to Boston. California is Mexican territory at this point and the only inhabitants are the Indians and Mexican nationals. The missions are in a state of decay and the official serfdom of the Indians has been prohibited. There are also numerous other transient nationalities that live on all the merchant ships. Dana takes to liking the “kanakas” or Sandwich Islanders, or, as we know them, Hawaiians.

The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can make nothing for themselves. The country abounds in grapes, yet they buy, at a great price, bad wine made in Boston and brought round by us… Their hides, too, which they value at two dollars in money, they barter for something which costs seventy-five cents in Boston

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