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Young Miguel Escobar receives a commission to sail with Juan Cabrillo, whose task it is to chart the California coast and find the legendary Northwest Passage. Miguel learns about life at sea and receives unique insights into the troubled soul of the former conquistador. Many of Miguelas preconceptions are challenged as the crew struggles against daunting headwinds and danger on shore. As the voyage progresses, Miguel finds himself a surrogate for the two infant sons Cabrillo has left behind in Guatemala. He forms new friendships and faces new challenges. He sees examples of both cruelty and kindness in the native people and learns about the close bond of men traveling at the edge of existence in a world never before seen by civilized man. In so doing, he learns much about himself and the man he wishes to become.