A plain, hard-working tale of the Civil War blockade, featuring Rhode Island shipbuilders and sailors. The Catherine, built by the needy, nautical Saunders family for the prescient Secretary of the Navy, is a super-fast privateer designed to intercept foreign and Southern ships. So the Catherine is on hand in Charleston harbor the very day Fort Sumter is fired on--and other big assignments follow. William Saunders' first big job is to rescue Yankee-sympathizer Obie Chisolm's secret cache of gold bars (recovered from a Spanish galleon) in Plymouth, North Carolina, so that the gold won't fall into Southern hands. Helping Saunders is wily, sex-loving Kit Cavanaugh--who goes ashore, loots Chisolm's safe, packs the bars in grain barrels, and gets them aboard the Catherine, along with Chisolm (who's been tarred and feathered). Before the gold can be brought North, however, Saunders intercepts a ship bearing Roseanne Whitney, a Yankee-sympathizer (with some top naval secrets) who's married to a secessionist. Cavanaugh and sailor Ben Eaton break out into fights over Roseanne (they've both enjoyed her company before). And soon the Catherine is into the worst Gulf squall in decades. But, after some brawling and whoring in New Orleans, Saunders returns to Saunderstown to expand his fleet--and is now the richest man in the state. Pleasant, somewhat plodding costume-drama/adventure: serviceable fare for undemanding naval-action fans.