With the British Merchant Navy in a state of collapse, the few remaining British crews are sinking into despair as their Red Ensigns are hauled down and replaced with ensigns of a bewildering array of nations. For many, this signals redundancy and the end of a life at sea.
This is the story of one such ship and one such crew. They are a long way from home, overdue their leave, battling breakdowns, and trapped in the Congo River during the largest war in Africa. The rebel armies are closing in on the port and the ship and, to make things worse, refugees look to the ship as their only hope. They must risk everything to escape to safety, breaking through the rebel army and then through the Devil’s Cauldron, a dangerous maelstrom of currents and rocks, and then on to the sea.
It is a story of ordinary seafarers caught up in events beyond their control and who discover the resolve and strength to continue their increasingly desperate attempts to get their ship through against the odds.