The story starts with Captain Star, the narrator, giving an introduction to the Star Fleet. During the briefing, he informs the tugs that a small harbour switcher called Sunshine from Up River is coming to help the Star Fleet. He also announces that they are to tow in the Duchess, the grand ocean liner. Captain Zero and his Z-Stacks soon find out about this and they make a plan to snag the contract. Hercules, the largest and strongest tug, is suddenly called away for a job up the coast, which will take him all day. The Z-Stacks take this to their advantage, as Zorran orders Zip and Zug to put Big Mac, the second strongest tug, out of action by pushing him onto a mud bank.
Meanwhile, Ten Cents and Sunshine do small duties including delivering fuel to Sally Seaplane, until they are ordered by O.J. to search for Big Mac. They find him stranded on a mud bank and are told by him to take his place to dock the liner. When the Stars tow in the Duchess, the Z-Stacks watch carefully. Zorran sees his chance and bumps Sunshine hard, sending him flying into the Duchess' rudder. The Star Fleet doesn't see this, and only with the help of Zorran are they able to get the liner back into control. Sunshine feels bad, and he runs away from the port.
The Z-Stacks are pleased with their plan, and they think they will get the contract. The Star Fleet are cross with Sunshine, but Ten Cents sticks up for him and decides to look for him. On his search, he meets Izzy Gomez the tramp steamer, who was promised a tow by Warrior, but apparently, Warrior had forgotten. As Ten Cents explains his search for Sunshine after the incident with the Duchess, Izzy, who was the only one who witnessed what happened, tells him that it was Zorran who hit Sunshine onto the Duchess' rudder.
Ten Cents then returns to the Star Dock, and after he informs the rest of the Star Fleet about what happened, they all regret how they felt about him and go looking for him. They find him in danger of sinking upon a mud bank. Top Hat mentions that they learned it was never Sunshine's fault as his apology to him and persuades him to go back home with them, so Sunshine agrees. As Ten Cents mentions that he was informed about this from Izzy Gomez, Warrior suddenly remembers he was supposed to give Izzy a tow and rushes off to find him.
When the truth is out, Captain Zero yells at his fellow Z-Stacks (excluding Zebedee and Zug, who were not present) at the Zero Dock. Captain Star tells the Star Fleet that they have learned that they should not jump to conclusions before knowing the truth, and he also tells them that he has decided to make Sunshine a member of the Star Fleet.
This episode marks the first appearances of the Star Tugs, Z-Stacks, Captain Star, Captain Zero, Izzy Gomez, Sally Seaplane and Lillie Lightship, S.S. Vienna, Puffa, The Goods Engine, Nantucket, Fire Tug, Frank and Eddie, Johnny Cuba, Grampus, Big Mickey, Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard's Messenger.
Captain Star has different dialogue in the TV version when mentioning the Duchess. The same happens with Captain Zero later in the episode when he tells the Z-Stacks he will be offering their service to the Duchess.
This episode marks the only appearance of the Duchess throughout the whole series.
Captain Star is the first character to speak in the series.
Zebedee is the only Z-Stack that does not speak in this episode.
This is the only episode where Captain Zero plays a major role.
There are some deleted scenes seen in the television version of this episode and also in both the TV and VHS opening credits. The scenes include:
A scene of Ten Cents, Warrior, Sunshine, Zip and Izzy Gomez in Bigg City Port (seen at the start of the VHS opening credits, although this could also be a pre-filmed deleted scene from High Tide).
An extended scene of O.J. going past the S.S. Vienna.
At the beginning when Captain Star is introducing the Star Tugs, O.J. is seen going by the S.S. Vienna surrounded by the Z-Stacks. An extended version of this scene can be seen in the opening credits.
After the other Z-Stacks congratulate Zorran in the TV version, there is a scene of Sunshine asking, "What happened?" Also, Zorran's line, "Glad to be of service!" comes in too early. However, in the VHS version, Sunshine's line is omitted and Zorran's line comes in later, which is a bit different to the TV version.
When Zorran and Zak leave to tell Captain Zero about the Duchess in the TV version, Captain Star says, "There'd been a change, but the Stars didn't know this. Here was a chance for Captain Zero to put one over on us." This dialogue is absent in the VHS version.
The TV version excludes Zorran speaking to Captain Zero about his plans.
The music in the scene where Warrior and Top Hat leave to go and find Big Mac is different in the TV version as it is heard after they leave. However, in the VHS version, the music is played whilst they are leaving.
The scene of Captain Star telling his tugs what positions they will be in when bringing in the Duchess is not included in the TV version.
The scene of Zak saying: "Poor little Sunshine. Just wasn't his day, was it!" is not included in the TV version.
The scene where Captain Zero congratulates the Z-Stacks is different in the TV version as it comes before the scene of Sunshine on his own.
The scene of the celebrations with the Duchess is different in both the TV and VHS versions. The TV version has Captain Star saying: "The Duchess threw a big party, celebrating her arrival in port. Everybody enjoying themselves. But all Sunshine wanted to do was to get away from Bigg City, back to his simple life upriver.". This dialogue is omitted in the VHS version.
The scene with Sunshine leaving the port at night is different in both the TV and the VHS versions. In the TV version, Sunshine leaves after Ten Cents sets off from the Star Dock to search for him. In the VHS version, Sunshine leaves before Ten Cents sets off to search for him.
The scene of Sunshine going into the rudder of the Duchess is different in the TV version. Captain Star says: "Without Big Mac, the Stars were straining to dock the Duchess. Zorran watched closely. Sunshine and Ten Cents were excited and proud. Switchers never worked on liners. O.J. ordered Sunshine to ease back.". In the VHS version, Captain Star says: "As the tricky part of the docking operation started, Zorran watched closely. Sunshine and Ten Cents were working hard on their new job when O.J. ordered Sunshine to ease back.".
When Sunshine slips away after going into the rudder of the Duchess, the TV version has Captain Star saying: "Ashamed and confused, Sunshine couldn't explain what had happened. So he slipped away whilst the Star Tugs were still busy with the Duchess." However, the VHS version has Captain Star saying: "Ashamed and confused, Sunshine couldn't explain what had happened. So he slipped away while the Star Tugs were still busy.". Also, Captain Star's line: "He didn't know the sleepy tramper Izzy had been watching the whole incident." is not included in the TV version.
When Ten Cents leaves the Star Dock to look for Sunshine in the TV version, Captain Star says: "Sunshine may have ruined his big chance, but Ten Cents wasn't going to leave him on his own.". Also there was a logo poster of the Western Pacific Railroad on one of the warehouses.
When Ten Cents goes to find Sunshine, the TV version has Captain Star saying: "Ten Cents had no idea where to start looking. Sunshine didn't know the port. Maybe he just got lost.".
In the TV version, when Ten Cents goes to tell the other Star Tugs about Zorran pushing Sunshine, Izzy asks about a tow and Ten Cents says: "I'll make sure you get one. Thanks, Izzy.". This scene is not included in the VHS version, as Ten Cents heads off without saying he'll get Izzy a tow.
Ten Cent's line, "I can't see much" is not included in the TV version.
In the TV version, when Ten Cents and the other Star Tugs go to find Sunshine, Ten Cents says: "Of course, oh but I promised Izzy a tow", then O.J. says: "I'll handle that. Now the rest of you follow Ten Cents upriver". In the VHS Version, the dialogue is changed to: "Now the rest of you follow Ten Cents. I'll stay here and tell Captain Star."
The ending music is low pitched at the end of the episode. This also happens at the end of the episodes, High Winds, Ghosts and Regatta. However, the ending is different in the TV version. The normal ending music is used instead of the low pitched ending music and Captain Star says: "That was the moment I first knew we had a great team of Star Tugs."
The VHS version includes Ten Cents and Warrior saying hello to each other at the Star Dock after the celebrations with the Duchess. However, in the TV version, the celebrations music can still heard in the background and Captain Star says: "Ten Cents was getting to like Sunshine and was worried for him."
The scene between Hercules talking to Ten Cents and Sunshine bumping into Ten Cents is different in the TV Version from the VHS Version. In the VHS Version O.J. tells Ten Cents that Sunshine is looking for him. In the TV Version Sunshine arrives at the port after Hercules leaves and Captain Star says: "Bigg City Port was a thriving busy place, and for someone from upriver who didn't know his way around, it could be very confusing."
Big Mac and Sunshine seem to have hit the same mudbank.
It is clear that water colouring dye has been added to the sets as it stains upon the mud bank.
This episode and Pirate are the only two episodes that are twenty minutes long in Japan.
This is the first episode to be titled after a character.
This is the first and only episode where Sally Seaplane speaks.
This is one of four episodes that has both a fifteen minute TV version and a twenty minute extended VHS version. The other three are Pirate, Munitions and Regatta.
The shot of Warrior when he says "I hope Big Mac gets here soon, Top Hat" is used as part of the logo in the VHS opening credits.
In the first scene at the Star briefing, Zorran and Zak are towing barges in the background, but in the next scene, they are back at the pier. This is only visible in the book adaption.
When Top Hat is introduced, one of the vans on Eddie is derailed.
During one of the briefing scenes, Warrior looks upset. Big Mac also looks cross when Captain Star tells him that he is leading the docking of the Duchess. In the same scene when Captain Star addresses O.J., the background behind him changes. Because of this, the fog disappears briefly.
In the scene where Sunshine was trying to get back home Up River, it appears that his model has already begun the process of having the Star Fleet livery painted on, though he still has his white and black smokestack.
In the first scene, the Fultan Ferry jerks a bit when it stops.
When Ten Cents leaves his fellow Star Tugs in the beginning his face becomes dirty but a few shots before that, his face was clean.
When Sunshine is slipping through the port at night, the Star and Zero piers can be seen across the way, but they are completely empty.
When the narrator introduces Captain Zero, the scene of the Zero Dock Logo is shown at night because of the colour of the sky, but in the next scene, it is daytime again.
Zorran calls Izzy Gomez "a South American heap of junk". Izzy, however, is from Mexico, which is located in the continent of North America.
At the beginning, when the Star Tugs are whistling excitedly about the Duchess, Hercules' whistle sound can be heard, but he is nowhere to be seen.
During the briefing at the beginning, the Star Tugs keep changing places.
At the briefing, Lillie Lightship can be seen moving by herself in the first scene. But then in the next scene, she is not there.
When the Star Tugs are towing the Duchess, Top Hat is not moving.
During the towing of the Duchess, Warrior lightly bumps into a boat anchored nearby in first scene.
When Sunshine runs into the Duchess, his funnel bends.
When Captain Zero speaks to his tugs at the beginning, they are facing away from him. During the close-ups of Zip, they can be seen facing towards him, this happens numerous times.
Ten Cents is shocked when he says, "Sunshine, meet Sally."
Warrior heads further upriver when he remembers he needs to tow Izzy, instead of heading back to Bigg City Port.
When Ten Cents explains to Izzy why he is looking for Sunshine, his hat moves.
During the scene where the tugs are watching the fireworks, Hercules can be spotted alongside Ten Cents. Yet, Ten Cents is not aware that he is back until much later in the episode.
In the final scene, when Ten Cents pulls up against Sunshine. In the bottom right of the screen, the top of the set is visible.
When Zorran hits Sunshine, Sunshine's deck is painted red then in the next shot it is painted black.
In the TV version, Ten Cents says that he had looked for Sunshine out where Lillie is even though the scene with Lillie is cut from that version.
It is said that the Duchess gets out of control after Sunshine hits her rudder, but she does not even move.
When Zorran says, "Seen it with my own eyes," Top Hat is behind him, but in the closeup of Zak, there is nobody there. However in the next scene, Warrior is behind them, but in the next closeup of Zorran, Top Hat is behind him again.
In the closeups of Captain Zero when he moves his megaphone, a hand can be seen moving it.
When the Z-Stacks are present at the Zero Dock, Zak is at the far right. But when he first speaks, he is at the far left.