The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the Atlantic Ocean south of the Celtic Sea . It forms the western coast of France from Brest to the border with Spain , and the northern coast of Spain west to the Cape of Ortegal .
Hornblower travels the Bay aboard HMS Indefatigable, Captain Sir Edward Pellew commanding. This is where Hornblower is given command of the prize Marie Galante of Bordeaux with a cargo of rice to return to any British held port. Soon, Hornblower and his crew discover that the ship is taking on water because of a shot-hole below the waterline. Hornblower attempts a repair with a patch fashioned from a sail, but, to no avail. The ship sank, and the crew and prisoners took to a lifeboat and are picked up by a French navy ship.
- Mr. Midshipman Hornblower: The Cargo of Rice