In a 32-foot sloop named the Gypsy Moon, attorney Hurley sails solo from Annapolis to Nassau in this memoir.
After losing his job and going through a nasty divorce, Hurley finds himself in a gloomy mid-life crisis. He decides to fulfill one of his personal dreams—“to sail a small boat over the open ocean, bound for no destination but the horizon.” As he prepares for the journey, Hurley looks back at his life; he confesses his unfaithfulness to his wife and his subsequent feelings of regret and guilt. This retrospective interlude, along with others throughout the tale, deftly integrates the reader into the story, giving Hurley’s background in an intimate, confessional way, clarifying the author’s humanity. Like most people, he’s made mistakes and regrets some of his choices, yet he’s honest enough to share them, believing, or hoping, that his readers will sympathize. Once he sets forth, Hurley likens sailing to life, noting that no matter how well one plans ahead, unforeseen circumstances still occur; equipment fails, storms arise, uninformed choices are made and sometimes just plain old bad luck gets in the way. While he ruminates on life and sailing, Hurley throws in his thoughts on love, marriage and even religion. He describes his foray into online dating and his personal beliefs about God and the afterlife. His philosophy about successful marriages—that they focus on the husband and wife and not the children—flies in the face of the contemporary world’s viewpoint, a viewpoint that, according to Hurley, explains many of society’s current neuroses. Hurley’s philosophical ruminations strike a chord because of a common peculiarity—faith. Hurley has faith in someone bigger than himself, someone vaster than the ocean. As his voyage proceeds, Hurley grounds his boat, battles 10-foot waves and struggles against powerful ocean currents. Fear is his constant companion, yet he conquers his fear, coming out stronger than he was. Not only does he rediscover his zest for life, he finds happiness with a woman named Susan, who lives in North Carolina. Hurley’s prose nicely fits his subject matter; his story is poignant without being maudlin and spiritual without being sanctimonious. Imagine a nautical, male version of Annie Dillard amalgamated with Kathleen Norris, who, discerning the sacred in the mundane, explains it in such a way that his readers feel blessed, too.
A striking memoir of personal discovery.