The ship featured in the film is the Albatross, a brigantine that was later sailed by Dr. Christopher B. Sheldon for his Ocean Academy; a summer program that took on high school age boys to study preparatory college classes and sail training. The ship sank in a storm in the summer of 1961, drowning Sheldon's wife, the ships cook and 3 other students. This story was dramatized in Ridley Scott's film White Squall (1996) starring Jeff Bridges.
The "Albatross", the boat used in the film, was owned by Ernest K. Gann, the author of the novel and the screenplay. He sailed her from California to the South Pacific, where he cruised extensively. His account of the voyage is written in two of his non-fiction books: "Song of the Sirens" and "A Hostage to Fortune".