Richard GordonÂs life was moving rapidly towards middle-aged lethargy Â or so he felt. Employed as an assistant in general practice Â the medical equivalent of a poor curate Â and having been ÂpersuadedÂ that marriage is as much an obligation for a young doctor as celibacy for a priest, Richard sees the rest of his life stretching before him. Losing his nerve, and desperately in need of an antidote, he instead signs on with the Fathom Steamboat Company. What follows is a hilarious tale of nautical diseases and assorted misadventures at sea. Yet he also becomes embroiled in a mystery Â what is in the CaptainÂs stomach remedy? And more to the point, what on earth happened to the previous doctor?