Read PREFACE of The Life of a Ship , free online book, by R.M. Ballantyne, on

The Life of a Ship from the Launch to the Wreck, by R.M.  Ballantyne.

A story for pre-teens, in which a small boy, Davy, is taken to a shipyard to watch the building of a new sailing-vessel, the “Fair Nancy”.  Eventually Davy is allowed to sail on board of her as a boy-seaman.  He is sea-sick at first, but soon recovers and learns how to climb the rigging to help with the sails.  They encounter a hurricane, which knocks the ship over, and they lose the ship’s boats.  A raft is made, but only a few people can get away on it, including the captain’s wife.  The ship drifts helpless until she is wrecked on a hostile shore.  There is only one chance for the men, and that would be if someone could swim ashore with a rope and fasten it, so that each member of the crew can be brought ashore with a travelling block and harness.  This works, and no lives are lost.  They walk out of the wilderness till they come to a village, from which they make their way to Quebec, and thence back to England.

I find it rather a depressing story, but the intention of the book, presumably, is to interest young people in a life at sea.