Traveling from Bern, Switzerland to the German colony of New Guinea with his parents and two brothers to avoid Napoleon Bonaparte's European conquest, Fritz Robinson and his family find themselves caught in a raging thunderstorm when being chased by pirates and trapped in their room of the ship they were sailing on. Fritz, his father, and brothers try to call for help but no one seems to be on board to answer their call until their ship gets caught on the rocks.
In the morning, Fritz and his brother, Ernst help their father break free from their room to allow their mother and youngest brother, Francis to get out as well. They find themselves shipwrecked next to a deserted island, the ship's captain and crew gone, and the animal livestock trapped inside along with the captain's dogs: Duke and Turk.
Fritz and his family begin to build a raft made out of the ship's wood and anything else they can find. Then, Fritz and his family begin collecting all their belongings including guns and muskets from the captain's cabin and anything else they might need to survive. When Francis starts loading some of the animals from the ship including the dogs, Father clearly explains that they won't sail to shore with the animals until everyone is safe, so, he begins to unload the animals to help them the next day; much to Francis' chagrin.