This sketch records several vessels large and small in Scarborough harbour, as seen looking south from the main pier. In the background can be seen cliff-top buildings in the area of the present Grand Hotel. Elsewhere in this sketchbook Turner sketched almost exactly the same view beyond the boats (D11944; Turner Bequest CL 25) and more or less continued the same panorama to the left (D11942; Turner Bequest CL 23). Two or three small lightships are visible to left; and another appears in D11942. These lights ships were presumably lit in foggy conditions or as needs be at night, and towed out to mark the safe passage.
A stain running into the sheet from towards the right end of the gutter is not part of the artwork.