Marty Leigh has wanted to go to sea ever since he was a boy growing up outside the Queen Victoria Markets. Despite his father’s misgivings and insistence that Marty learn a trade, Marty is determined to see his dream come true. When he is nearly seventeen, Marty takes the first step and signs up to be a deck boy. Now all he has to do is wait.
Two weeks later, Marty receives a call that he is to set sail on the SS Barwon immediately. With his young heart beating wildly, his blood racing through his veins, and his suitcase held together with a leather strap, Marty climbs his first gangway and begins a new life. All the union asks of him is loyalty in exchange for dignity, strength, and close association with his own kind. As Marty attempts to acclimate to life at sea, he has no idea that one day far into the future, he will walk down his last gangway as a bitter, disillusioned man irrevocably changed by the sea.
In this historical tale, a teenager embarks on a remarkable coming-of-age adventure where he quickly learns that it is not he who controls his destiny, but the sea.