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Barbara Johannes, president of the Dana Point Historical society, takes part in the annual reading of Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s personal narrative, Two Years Before the Mast, during last year’s Festival of Whales. Courtesy photo
Barbara Johannes, president of the Dana Point Historical society, takes part in the annual reading of Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s personal narrative, Two Years Before the Mast, during last year’s Festival of Whales. Courtesy photo

By Andrea Papagianis

With California gray whales making their marathon migration along the West Coast, a marathon of a different sort is gearing up for its fourth annual installation.

The Dana Point Historical Society will host its fourth cover-to-cover reading of Dana Point namesake, Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s Two Year Before the Mast. The reading will be held at the Nature Interpretive Center, located at 34558 Scenic Drive, during the second weekend of the Dana Point Festival of Whales.

An epic account of Dana’s journey aboard the brig Pilgrim from Boston, around the Horn of South Africa and to the Southern California shores to trade goods in the 1830s, Two Years Before the Mast is a powerful 19th century personal narrative, and a lengthy tale, to say the least.

The historical society is asking for assistance in reading then 19-year-old Dana Jr.’s more than 400-page account, which records Capistrano Bay as “the most romantic spot on the coast.”

Volunteer readers are needed throughout the three-day reading on Friday, March 4, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, March 8, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to noon.

To participate in the reading of Dana’s account, a man who went on to serve as a U.S. Attorney during the Civil War and later in the Massachusetts legislature, contact the Dana Point Historical Society at 949.899.0907 or email twoyearsbeforethemastdp@gmail.com.

Organizers ask volunteers to provide their name, email address, a contact number and a preferred time to read. Volunteers may either read aloud for eight minutes or volunteer for a two-hour shift.

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