It is the story of one unremarkable steamship captain, pitted against a storm of incredible fury. Captain Macwhirr has a reputation as a solid, steadfast man, who "having just enough imagination to carry him through each successive day, and no more" cannot fully believe any storm would be a match for his powerful ship. When the barometer and other clues begin to hint at trouble ahead, he is only moderately concerned and unwilling to change course and lose precious time-a decision that may prove more costly than he could ever have imagined.
In these three sea stories, based on his own experience, Conrad invests his portraits of mundane ships and their crews with epic qualities of fortitude and courage in the face of overwhelming natural odds. At the same time, he probes the psychological condition of men together and under pressure with the greatest delicacy, raising the adventure story to the level of high art. The supreme poet of the sailor's life, Conrad here establishes his reputation as a master storyteller. With an introduction by Martin Seymour-Smith.