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. His wife Patrice suggests he accept an invitation from one of his friends to take a fishing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although reluctant to leave serious obligations to his clients and his firm, Jonathan recognizes the need to have some separation from Patrice and the hectic pace of his business, in a place like the Outer Banks, where he will have 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 relax on the deck of the waterfront condo they’re renting, celebrating a successful fishing endeavor, a dense fog descends on the ocean before them. As it swirls around them, the ghostly image of a square-rigged schooner emerges from the mist. It’s the kind of ship that, long ago, raided the Carolina coast. Their sighting lasts for only a few seconds before the ship fades back into the fog—but only Jonathan glimpses the spectral woman at the helm. When his eyes meet hers, he realizes a deep connection so profound that he knows he must discover what it is, or 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.

Jonathan now thinks the chest is from the ghostly ship he witnessed that fateful night. He starts seeing Kate’s image everywhere. He realizes 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 doesn’t fully understand nor is he prepared for the journey he must undertake 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.