A storybook ending? Rescued writer gets the girl, sets sail

  • Jun. 2, 2018 8:27 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A novelist who was twice rescued at sea has sailed 7,000 trouble-free miles and envisions a storybook ending to his journey.

Michael Hurley is completing a voyage from France to the Caribbean to North America with a first mate who is engaged to be his wife. Then he’s embarking on a new adventure by putting his boat into storage, getting married and moving to England.

The 60-year-old Hurley, who sold his North Carolina law firm so he could sail and write, has travelled far since he was plucked from his storm-battered sailboat by the student crew of the Maine Maritime Academy training vessel in 2015. It was the second time he had been rescued and lost his boat.

Despite the bad luck, his wanderlust remained unfulfilled, and he soon purchased a final sailboat. He signalled his intentions by naming it Nevermore.

This time, his luck changed. He found love while in the United Kingdom writing “The Passage,” a book that drew from his experience of being rescued. His fiancee, Jill Gormley, of London, said she had never been sailing before meeting him. Her introduction was a four-week sail to St. Lucia.

“We didn’t have a single argument in 28 days,” Gormley said, despite cramped quarters, canned food and an early bout of seasickness.

Gormley, who ran a program for schoolchildren with special needs, was up for an adventure. The challenge, the 56-year-old Gormley said, was overcoming fear.

“I wasn’t bored. We chatted, played guitar, watched dolphins. Everything was new and exciting. The challenge was just not to be scared and trust that we were not going to sink,” she said in a telephone interview from Charleston, South Carolina. “It was coming to terms with the vastness of the ocean,” she said.

Added Hurley: “If there was any flaw in the relationship, it was going to be revealed then. We came out of it confident that we got along and were right for each other.”

For Hurley, it was supposed to be a round-the-world adventure. But he is cutting it short after two years and 7,000 miles in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

He said he met his goal of crossing an ocean, and he’s ready for a break from sailing. The journey ends June 15 in Oriental, North Carolina, where Nevermore will be stored.

Nate Gandy, captain of the Maine Maritime Academy training vessel, said he’s happy that Hurley was successful in crossing the ocean. “It takes more than luck to make a trans-Atlantic trip like that,” Gandy wrote in an email.

Hurley and Gormley are eager to tie the knot at a yacht club on the Thames River in October in London. They will be semi-retired, and Hurley will continue writing. The budding novelist has written a half-dozen books.

The Maryland native is planning a memoir, “The Leap.” The title comes from the American philosopher John Burroughs, who proclaimed, “Leap and the net will appear.”

Hurley has taken that to heart.

“If you open yourself up to new experiences, they will lead to new opportunities,” he said, “but if you fear constantly that you have to have a plan and a budget and a bankroll, and everything has to be laid out in advance, then you miss out on a lot of the serendipity of life.”

Just Posted

Central Alberta school divisions to support rural students through agreement

Wolf Creek to bring Enhanced Learning Model courses to Clearview schools

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Manslaughter charge stayed against Maskwacis man

Man was accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of his mother in 2015

Red Deer Mounties make numerous arrests over the past two weeks

Over the past two weeks, Red Deer RCMP have made a number… Continue reading

Leslieville Elks’ new hall rising from the ashes

Leslieville Elks Lodge grateful for outpouring of support

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Charges dropped against Alberta property owner in rural shooting

OKOTOKS, Alta. — All charges have been dropped against a man accused… Continue reading

China blocks John Oliver on social media after scathing show

BEIJING — A popular Chinese social media site is censoring discussion of… Continue reading

Most Red Deer Advocate readers would call police when witnessing a crime

An overwhelming number of Advocate readers would call the police if they… Continue reading

So much TV, so little summer: Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Dr. Pol

LOS ANGELES — The fall television season is months away but that’s… Continue reading

BlackBerry Q1 revenue, adjusted earnings beat estimates but stock falls

TORONTO — BlackBerry Ltd. shares sank almost 10 per cent to their… Continue reading

OPEC countries to pump more oil to contain price increase

VIENNA — The countries of the OPEC cartel agreed on Friday to… Continue reading

Man sentenced for Edson triple murder

EDMONTON — An Alberta man who fatally shot three people has been… Continue reading

‘Hot Dog Water’ seller in Vancouver gets laughs, sales with savvy marketing

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver man who sold bottles of “Hot Dog Water”… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month