This is one of Moran's many dramatic waterscapes but is unique in missing the usual incredible rugged backdrops that most of his waterscapes have. This painting is almost entirely filled with the raging wild and huge waves of an angry stormy sea.
The only land and soliditiy in the picture is a a thin bar of sand to the right, running from the bottom right towards the centre, the sand is very pale in colour and looks to be compacted and hard rather than loose and fine, it curves twice, the first small curve of sand is almost covered by clear seawater from the edge of the waves, while the second curve is larger and more defined. The tiny bit of beach would be just enough for a few people to stand on, if they dared to get that close to such a furious sea. The artist presumably has a safe bit of beach or vantage point further along.
Four or five low waves meet the shore on the second curve of the beach and sea, and after that, the sea really means business. The sea fills a majority of the painting, from foreground to top centre, and it is the almost sole focus of the work. Beyond the shallow waves, several lines of large and fierce breaking waves fall, foaming white in their break, and beyond that, the sea is a deep dark green-grey. Many waves are carrying and the surface of the sea is full of fury and troubled restlessness. Further along from the glimpse of the beach, the sea turns black under the storm clouds. Not much more can be said about the state of the sea except that it is empty, and even the bravest sailor would think twice before going out in such conditions, while ships would be sheltering.
The top of the picture is the sky. Dark and stormy and full of rain to the right, while over to the right is an almost surprising ray of light breaking through, as if the sun is attempting to shine, this throws the dark clouds into contrast and magnifies them while also reflecting some light on the stormy sea. There is the illusion of rain falling on the sea as well as light, and it is a beautifully mastered effect. The whole painting boasts an unbeatable living atmosphere of drama and solitude, one could almost step into the painting.