Traveling from Bern, Switzerland to the new colony of New Guinea to avoid Napoleon Bonaparte's European conquest, Fritz and his family find themselves caught in a raging storm when being chased by pirates and trapped in their room of the Titus, 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 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 farm animal livestock trapped inside along with Captain Wilhelm's dogs, Duke and Turk.
Fritz and his family begin to build a raft out of the ship's wood and anything else they can find. Then they begin collecting all their belongings including guns and muskets from Captain Wilhelm's cabin and anything else they might need to survive. When Francis starts loading some of the animals from the ship including Duke and Turk, 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.