Lieutenant Jordan, U.S. Coast Guard, responds to a number of pleas for help from civilian pleasure boat sailors around Southern California’s Balboa Island. This type of event is typical of what the Coast Guard deals with on a regular basis, and is one of the reasons why Jordan has requested to transfer to a new station. He is handing over the reins to Ensign Tom Garland, a polite but remarkably clumsy fellow who will now report to Commander Taylor, a man who fought in World War II with Garland’s father and holds him in high regard.

Through a series of events, Garland’s ineptitude as the station’s new skipper is revealed. He repeatedly flounders in tending to the various minor issues plaguing the crowded waters’ impatient travelers. It also does not take long for him to fall for Kate Fairchild, a “girl next door” who runs a local boat rental and sailing school spot on the coast.

Meanwhile, three jewel thieves are making their way to Mexico while listening to reports of their pursuit. There’s ringleader Harry Simmons, who poses as a yacht club “commodore” and dispatches orders to his two associates, Charlie, and Max. This trio has managed to steal a jewel collection, and they intend to smuggle them inside an assortment of casually hollowed food. They decide to rent a boat from Kate to make their way south of the border, although none of the three know how to sail.

With Kate’s suggestion that the crooks’ suspicious behavior might indicate criminality, she and Tom begin to suspect that they are indeed the three men reported about in a newspaper article. Tom is right about the suspects, but Commander Taylor initially does not believe it. Ultimately, Tom is able to convince Taylor to retrieve the stolen jewels, and ensure that the jewel thieves are arrested.