A ruthless sea captain routinely shanghais new recruits and subjects them to horrible treatment while on board. One night he abducts a ship owner's son from Boston. When the youth awakes he discovers himself en route for California. The captain is in a great hurry to get there and is terribly cruel to the beleaguered and frequently physically tormented crew. The youth makes a valuable ally in a crew member who is seeking to avenge his brother's death by writing a graphic expose of sea life.