It’s 1913 and Great Lakes galley cook Sunny Colvin has her hands full feeding a freighter crew seven days a week, nine months a year. She also has a dream—to open a restaurant back home—but knows she’d never convince her husband, the steward, to leave the seafaring life he loves.
In Sunny’s hometown on Lake Huron, her sister, Agnes Inby, mourns her husband, a U.S. Life-Saving Serviceman who died in an accident she believes she could have prevented. Burdened with regret and familial demands, and longing for more than her job at the local dry goods store, she looks for comfort in a secret infatuation.
Two hundred miles away in Cleveland, youngest sister Cordelia Blythe has pinned her hopes for adventure on her recent marriage to a lake freighter captain. Finding herself alone and restless in her new town, she convinces him to let her come on a trip up the lakes—during a month notorious for its unpredictable weather.
On November 8, 1913, a deadly storm descends on the Great Lakes, bringing hurricane-force winds, whiteout blizzard conditions, and mountainous thirty-five-foot waves that last for days. Sunny and Cordelia fight to survive while Agnes shelters at a life-saving station besieged by the fury. Amidst the chaos all three women are offered a glimpse of the clarity they seek, if only they dare to perceive it.