Reader Lecture 30 Dana, Harte

Reader Lecture 30 Dana, Harte - From Two Years before the...

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From Two Years before the Mast (1840) by Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882) from CHAPTER VIII . . .Tuesday, Jan 13th, 1835, we made the land at Point Conception, lat 34÷ 32’ N., long 120÷ 06’ W. The port of Santa Barbara, to which we were bound, lying about sixty miles to the southward of this point, we continued sailing down the coast during the day and following night, and on the next morning, Jan. 14th, 1835, we came to anchor in the spacious bay of Santa Barbara, after a voyage of one hundred and fifty days from Boston. CHAPTER IX CALIFORNIA—A SOUTH-EASTER California extends along nearly the whole of the western coast of Mexico, between the gulf of California in the south and the bay of Sir Francis Drake on the north, or between the 22d and 38th degrees of north latitude. It is subdivided into two provinces—Lower or Old California, lying between the gulf and the 32d degree of latitude, or near it; (the division line running, I believe, between the bay of Todos Santos and the port of San Diego;) and New or Upper California, the southernmost port of which is San Diego, in lat. 32÷ 39’, and the northernmost, San Francisco, situated in the large bay discovered by Sir Francis Drake, in lat. 37÷ 58’, and called after him by the English, though the Mexicans call it Yerba Buena. Upper California has the seat of its government at Monterey, where is also the custom-house, the only one on the coast, and at which every vessel intending to trade on the coast must enter its cargo before it can commence its traffic. We were to trade upon this coast exclusively, and therefore expected to go to Monterey at first; but the captain’s orders from home were to put in at Santa Barbara, which is the central port of the coast, and wait there for the agent who lives there, and transacts all the business for the firm to which our vessel belonged. The bay, or, as it was commonly called, the canal of Santa Barbara, is very large, being formed by the main land on one side, (between Point Conception on the north and Point St. Buena Ventura on the south,) which here bends in like a crescent, and three large islands opposite to it and at the distance of twenty miles. This is just sufficient to give it the name of a bay, while at the same time it is so large and so much exposed to the south-east and north-west winds, that it is little better than an open roadstead; and the whole swell of the Pacific ocean rolls in here before a southeaster, and breaks with so heavy a surf in the shallow waters, that it is highly dangerous to lie near to the shore during the south-easter season; that is, between the months of November and April. This wind (the south-easter) is the bane of the coast of California. Between the months of November and April, (including a part of each,) which is the rainy season in this latitude, you are never safe from it, and accordingly, in the ports which are open to it, vessels are obliged, during these months, to lie at anchor at a distance of three miles from the shore,
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Reader Lecture 30 Dana, Harte - From Two Years before the...

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