Robin Hood's Bay, a coastal village in North Yorkshire not far from Whitby, was a thriving fishing centre in the nineteenth century. Wrecks were a common occurence and the precariously rocky cliffs and forceful tide, combined with rough weather, could be fatal. The origins of the name 'Robin Hood's Bay' are unknown, although ironically the village was renowned for illicit trade and smuggling. In 1856, a year before the present canvas was painted, coastguards were commissioned to excise the smugglers, and dragoons were brought in to help. Undoubtedly the Bay's colourful reputation appealed to Carmichael's painterly imagination, but it is his depiction of the natural elements in this work that is particularly evocative.