Safe From the Sea is the story of a man returning home to Duluth to help his ailing father. But returning home makes Noah tense and uncertain. He and his father have been estranged for years, an estrangement that began after his father survived the sinking of his Great Lakes ore boat during Noah's youth. Survived in body, but not in spirit. Once Noah arrives, though, it's clear that his father is not simply ill but dying—which the father knows, though he hasn't been explicit. He doesn't want sympathy. And so the two begin an awkward journey toward the end of Olaf Torr's life and, possibly, toward reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Noah's own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, who is at home alone in Boston, bearing the scars of lost pregnancies and now fading hopes. But Natalie isn't one to wallow. She makes a sudden and surprising choice: she, too, will come to Duluth.