Phillip and his parents are Americans living in Curacao. Life in Curacao has become dangerous since the second war started and the oil refineries where Phillip's father works are being attacked by the Germans.
Phillip's parents have decided that it would be safer if Phillip and his mother return to Virginia until the war ends. On the way back to the USA their ship is hit by a torpedo. Phillip is shown from the ship and wakes up on a life boat with a man named Timothy and a cat. A few days into being at sea in the raft, Phillip loses his eye sight from his head injury
After washing up onto a deserted cay, Phillip and Timothy have a hard time getting along. Phillip finally learns to appreciate Timothy and is grateful for the survival skills Phillip teaches him despite being blind. Phillip learns how to fish, get water and make fire.
In July, a hurricane hits the cay. Timothy knows it is coming and prepares by burying their supplies. He ties himself and Phillip to a tree so they don't get blown away. They survive, but Timothy is badly hurt from taking most of the impact of the storm trying to protect Phillip. He dies shortly after the storm ends.
Phillip buries Timothy and continues to live on the cay. He uses all of the skills that Timothy taught him to survive. After the hurricane he makes a new brush pile and uses it to light a signal fire when he hears a plane flying overhead.
A pilot sees Phillips signal fire and a ship is sent to rescue him. Phillip is finally reunited with his family. After three operations Phillip is able to see again. Phillips life returns to normal, but he never forgets his friend and protector, Timothy.