Two previous novels, A Man's World and The Joy Train marked this author's preoccupation with youth and its attempts to attain the mark of maturity; and here he follows an adult when he is defeated by that same youth. Jack Clearwater, who, after years of sailing other people's boats, achieves his own and believes he is building his little world around the Bird when he buys and reconditions her, finds that young Jingo and, particularly his wife, Trenora, claim his interest, his time and his protection. With Jingo in trouble over the suicide of another boat's, captain, Trenora becomes Clearwater's concern and because of her he takes Jingo as his cook on a chartered cruise to Bimini during which Jingo, lucky in cards and women, loses him his passengers. His winnings permit Jingo to hire Clearwater and the Bird for treasure hunting with Trenora hysterically siding with Jingo even after they are bilked, and Clearwater is left -- without his dreams, without much self-respect. The particular world of Miami's waterfront and the personal world of an end-of-the-road drifter, this requires a special acceptance in its understanding of loss of stature -- even with one's self.