Twelve year old Derk Van Vliet began the adventure of a lifetime in Holland in 1847. He left his home, his friends and his faithful dog, Bello, to begin a new life in America. But, disaster struck as his ship came within sight of its destination, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The Phoenix, a Great Lakes steamer, normally delivered immigrants to their new homes. But, on Derk's voyage, the doomed Phoenix, was part of an historic disaster which would cause Derk to question everything about life. He would have to forge ahead to find a new life and search to find courage deep within himself.