It is not compulsory to go from book one to book two in a trilogy but it was close to hand and so seemed like a natural choice. If Rites of Passage was about the story of the demise of the parson Colley then it is not quite clear what Close Quarters is about.
Talbot the narrator is still on his voyage to Australia and things start to get slowly back to normal after the death of the parson. In a bid to make his journal, which is now purely for personal consumption not for his Godfather’s eyes, interesting he searches for a hero. He settles on Summers and opens up to him about his ambitions to make it in politics but before their relationship develops the weather intervenes.
A storm smashes into the ship and a drunk officer who has left an apprentice on duty is pulled before the captain and faces certain court martial once back on dry land. Talbot who tried to help in the crisis is knocked down by a rope end and is semi-conscious for quite a while and spends the next few days half-cut with not too much sympathy for his injuries.
The weather is the cause again of the main excitement as a boat draws near. The boat prepares for a battle with the French and the excitement and fear is palpable. But when the boat finally draws alongside it appears to be English with the news that the war against Napoleon and the French is over.