Chapter 5 of Captain's Courageous is a desultory stretch of the narrative, featuring not only Harvey, the young protagonist, but also fleshing out the varied members of the crew of the cod-fishing schooner and providing a sense of the texture of the daily routine aboard the We're Here.
After only a few days at sea, the 15-year-old Harvey seems to have acclimated fairly well, considering his wealthy background. From working with oilskins, he's acquires "gurry-sores" on his wrists as marks of the trade and learned how to handle the gaff and gob-stick from the dory in fog-swept waters.
When he's first allowed to take the wheel, Harvey does well for awhile but shows his inexperience in accidentally tearing an old staysail in the process. He soon learns to mend the sail with palm thread. And he's able to surprise Disko Troop, the tough ship's captain, by knowing enough math to use the quadrant or "hog-and-yoke."
More to the point, Harvey has learned to blend in with the ship's crew through his hard work and positive attitude. Many thought him insane when he was first brought aboard, due to his stories about life among the wealthy, but now believe that he just "yarns good," as Tom Platt puts it.
Through their constant banter, exchange of information and techniques, and tall tales of exploits on the waves, Kipling paints a portrait of the We're Here crew. The hard-bitten, highly-skilled, and yet doleful Disko; his son Dan, Harvey's young companion and competitor; Uncle Salterer, the eccentric ex-farmer; the humble, laconic Penn; and the Gaelic-speaking black cook who tacitly acknowledges Harvey's provenance all contribute to expanding the young scion's awareness of the variety of human nature.
The final incident of the chapter, in which the crew of the We're Here trade the crew of a French bark for tobacco, illustrates one of the main themes of the book. Harvey is the only one of the crew who speaks any French, yet his grasp of the language is too limited to be any help in making the trade. Tom Platt finally seals the deal through the use of sign-language. Although Harvey may be on the sea with this crew, he realizes he will never truly understand the mysteries of this life as they do.