It's 1794, and England has been at battle with Revolutionary France for almost two years as this sweeping yarn of the sea begins. Captain Richard Bolitho sets sail in the Hyperion with his untrained and undermanned crew for blockade duty off France. But Commodore Mathias Pelham-Martin proves to be both an egotistical and incompetent superior, whose petty hostilities jeopardize the operation of an entire fleet. As the enemy goes in and out of sight, the Hyperion gives chase from the Bay of Biscay with its bitter squalls to the Caribbean and its impossible heat. Finally, the long overdue rendezvous takes place.