Architect Jonathan West has had his life defined largely by the precision of the structural drawings that are the foundation of the success of his firm. He is talented and very much in demand and has always prided himself on his ability to focus on the project at hand.
His world is thrown out of focus when he is confronted by his wife’s infidelity with one of his most trusted employees, and he debates on whether or not to end the marriage. Patrice, knowing that she has been discovered, suggests that Jonathan accepts an invitation from one of his friends to take a fishing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although reluctant to leave the serious obligations to his clients and his firm, he recognizes the need to have some separation from Patrice and operate in a place that is removed from the hectic pace of his business, giving him time to think.
Jonathan heads south, and as he puts distance between himself and his troubles, his mind starts to relax and his thinking becomes clearer. He arrives on the island just before sunset and is instantly mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of a place whose very air seems softer.
As he and his fishing buddies celebrate a successful fishing endeavor, the dense fog that descends upon them is not only the result of the beers they down as they relax on the deck of the Oceanside condo they are renting. It swirls around them, and remarkably, a ghostly image emerges of a square rigged schooner of the kind that used to raid the Carolina coast long ago. The image of the ship lasts only for seconds, and as it fades back into the fog, Jonathan and his companions realize that they have witnessed The Graveyard of the Atlantic giving up its victims for a brief earthly visit. Jonathan, however, is the only one who glimpses the ethereal woman who mans the helm. After her eyes meet his, he realizes a deep connection with her spirit that is so profound that he knows he must discover what that connection is. His life will never be the same.
In order to pursue his quest, Jonathan buys a house on the beach near the sighting. After a Nor’easter ravages the coastline, Jonathan discovers a chest covered in tar. Its contents reveal that it belonged to Kate Russell, captain of the Royal Thomas, which sank in 1721. Her detailed ship’s log describes her fascinating life as a pirate captain. He also finds a heart shaped ruby necklace, the back of which contains an inscription, “The bearer of this necklace carries the spirit of Captain Kate Russell and will know all of her secrets.”
Jonathan now thinks the chest is from the ghostly ship he witnessed that fateful night. He starts seeing Kate’s image everywhere. He realizes that she wants something from him, and feels that if he can figure it out and find a way to help her, her spirit will finally rest.
Patrice recognizes the change in her husband and knows her chance with him is slipping away. Over her objections, Jonathan moves to the beach house full time where he immerses himself in Kate’s journal. He is determined to find evidence that she existed as he consults Marine authorities, digs through old documents, and ferrets out each and every one of the local tales of pirates and shipwrecks. He becomes fixated on making a connection with Kate and stops communicating with everyone!
Jonathan’s family will never understand or be prepared for the journey he undertakes as he seeks to make the Graveyard of the Atlantic give up the secrets of the Royal Thomas and reveal the story of a life lost long ago. The readers need to be prepared to accept Jonathan’s fate as he is convinced his destiny is to reunite with Kate in the afterlife.