Ladd is the spoiled son of a shipowner who, while drinking in a waterfront dive in Boston one evening, finds himself the victim of Bendix and his gang. He wakes up shanghaied, on board the Pilgrim
bound for the California coast and back. Conditions on the ship are appalling, and the
captain, da Silva, drives the men ruthlessly in quest of a record time on his voyage. Da Silva had earlier been drummed out of the Navy for cruelty to his men, and his manners have improved none since. Men are flogged for the slightest offense, with first mate Bendix working as the captain's
enforcer. Ladd develops an ally in the person of Donlevy, whose brother died on one of da...