'Some seventeen years after the mutiny on the Bounty, William Bligh sets sail for New South Wales as Governor-elect of the fledgling colony. He is accompanied by his daughter Mary, the narrator of this extraordinary shipboard tale. A cultured young Englishwoman, Mary is entirely unprepared for the voyage - the great emptiness of the ocean, the unfamiliar rituals, the terrifying storms, the bedazzling natural wonders. Most confronting of all is the bizarre quarrel between her father and the captain of the convoy, Joseph Short, a man whose sensitivities are almost a match for Bligh's and whose temper brings the voyagers to the brink of catastrophe.
Mary's ardent and witty journal takes us beyond the quarterdeck rivalries into the private world of the Blighs - their family and friends, and the tragedies and failings of a man embarking on his last great command.