08 September 2013 | Sailing Southern California
September 7, 2013
"What does that mean? 'Two Years Before the Mast?'" I asked Jay as we entered the harbor at Dana Point on Thursday afternoon. (As a sailor, he thought I should know this, but I did not.) He proceeded to explain, "Before the mast is where the crews quarters were, (also called the forecastle) the midshipmen's quarters were mid ship and the Captain and officer(s) were housed in the stern of the boat."
We were discussing Richard Henry Dana, Jr.'s book, "Two Years Before the Mast." In 1834, at nineteen years of age, Mr. Dana left Harvard and Boston on board the ship Pilgrim and headed for the Pacific. He was hoping the sea air would help him overcome an eye ailment that was the result of his bout with a severe case of the measles. "Two Years Before the Mast" is his story of his journey and experience while a merchant seaman. While traveling, he witnessed the inequities in which the crew was treated and went on to become an attorney, keen in maritime law as well as an advocate for merchant seamen's rights.
Here, staged at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor, is a full size replica of the ship Pilgrim for tourists to visit and learn about its history. This weekend was special, though, as six other tall ships converged on the harbor for the Tall Ships Festival. (There was supposed to be eight total, but as of Friday night, The Bill of Rights was a no show.) They kicked off the festival with a Friday evening sunset parade and they were out in all their splendor, shooting off their cannons. It was a sight to see and reminded Jay of the 1976 Bicentennial celebration, when while he was in the US Navy Band, he was commissioned to write, "Parade of the Tall Ships" for Operation Sail in New York Harbor. Only then they had over a hundred tall ships in their parade, coming from all over the world. Jay's piece has remained one of the classic band compositions and continues to be played by the US Navy and other bands worldwide.
But wait! There was another parade too! It was the Elephant Parade: Welcome to America. This is a city-wide art exhibition of life-size Asian elephants painted by various artists and celebrities around the world to bring awareness to the plight of elephants on our earth and to raise money to fund education to help coordinate a peaceful mammal/human coexistence. We had fun walking around the harbor trying to find all the different designs. The elephant is one of my favorite animals and I am glad to know there is such a charity trying to save their precious lives.
Our experience at Dana Point Harbor was full of surprises as when we arrived we were greeted by our friends KC and Myrna. KC has a Newport 30 here in the harbor and when she got my email that we had left, she said she had to come down and give us a proper hug goodbye. Later we shared a lovely meal at the Dana West Yacht Club and then gave them a proper hug goodbye the following morning when they sailed off to Catalina in GypSea. (Not sure of the spelling. Took a guess.)
All in all our trip so far has been smooth sailing - or motoring as there has been little wind. Except for the lost fender. Need to add that to my list.