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Commander Davidson Bulloch, a former Confederate Navy submarine captain, gets more than he bargains for when he signs on as the first captain of Maryland's new "Oyster Navy" and sets out to rid the Chesapeake Bay of illegal oyster dredgers. Beset with an aging crew of misfits and his cantankerous iron-clad steamer, The Layla, Davidson quickly realizes he's dealing with more than just some purloined oysters; the nefarious pirate Treacher Fink has hatched a plan to summon the ghost of a legendary Chesapeake Bay waterman who has the power to control the sea and everything in it.