Dramatic retelling of the fateful last voyage of the Nantucket whaleship Essex. When the Essex is attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in November 1820, her crew take to three fragile whalers. Alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the men must decide whether to head for the nearest islands - a thousand miles downwind to the west - or set out on an epic journey of almost three thousand miles to reach the South American mainland. Fear of cannibals forces them to choose South America. Almost three months later, the first whaler is rescued by another whaleship. Only three men are still alive. A week later the captain's whaler is also rescued, with just two men aboard. The third whaler is never found.