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In Oakland, California, Jack London (Michael O’Shea), who dreams of becoming a writer, quits his cannery job after a female employee’s hands are crushed in a machinery accident. Mammy Jenny (Louise Beavers), Jack’s maid and surrogate mother, lends him her savings so that he can buy a boat and earn his living hauling oysters from the San Francisco Bay.
After he buys the boat from French Frank (Albert Van Antwerp), who gets a cut of all his business, Jack discovers oyster pirate Mamie (Viginia Mayo) stowed aboard, and agrees to a partnership with her. They are later joined by a third partner, Scratch Nelson (Regis Toomey). Early one morning, the boat pulls into dock after a night’s work of stealing from other traps and is fired at from the dock by the police. Scratch is killed, and although Mamie has fallen in love with him, Jack decides that oyster piracy is too dangerous a business and quits in the hope of finally becoming a writer.