In August 1834, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., shipped aboard the brig Pilgrim out of Boston for a voyage to California. Dana tells the tale of a young, naI1/2ve, religiously conservative Boston aristocrat who thrusts himself into a trial amidst crude, uneducated, generally amoral sailors. It is the exciting, intelligent, sensitive story of a young man's transition to maturity, with a vivid description of his struggle with his shipmates, the elements and with himself. The author wrote this realistic account of the life of a common sailor to make the public aware of the hardships and injustices to which American sailors were subjected. He gives an accurate account of life at sea and a colorful portrait of life in California in the early nineteenth century.