Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading

Before the Mast

Before the mast is literally the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle).

What is Before the Mast?

Before the mast is literally the position of men during the days of sail whose living quarters on board were in the forecastle, but a term more generally used to describe seamen, as opposed to officers, in phrases such as ‘he sailed before the mast’. The phrase is enshrined in Richard Dana's classic of marine literature Two Years Before the Mast.