Patrick O'Brian's third Aubrey-Maturin volume is H.M.S. Surprise. As I read more of these I come to enjoy them more; this was my favorite of the series so far, as Aubrey and Maturin make their way to Kampong (by way of South America and India) carrying a royal governor, grappling with French squadrons, fickle females, and bureaucrats along the way. Maturin gets the best scenes, from his reaction to finding his pet sloth drunk on ship's grog ("Jack, you have debauched my sloth"), to his casual ordering up of an elephant in India, to his gruesome self-surgery following a battle wound.
O'Brian manages to keep his examinations of ship life and naval maneuvering from becoming overpowering, breathing life into his ships and their occupants without drowning the reader in details.