Porter, a fellow of action with a sense of humor sails to San Francisco in 1849. He jumps ship for the California gold rush but fails. His ship signs him back as a temporary second mate.The ship's owner wagers everything on a Trans-Pacific race to Honolulu. Porter struggles to control his crew, cope with the jealous first mate, save a secret gold shipment from Chinese pirates, combat sabotage, challenge the rival brig. A sailor, his friend, drowns following his command. Can he rise to lead and win the bet?