Once Upon A Gypsy Moon: An Improbable Voyage and One Man's Yearning for Redemption

Written by Michael Hurley

Reviewed by Fred Beyer, Episcopal Shoppe

What do you do when your life falls apart? Michael Hurley coped with his own infidelity, divorce and failure of his career by going to sea. Gypsy Moon was a 32 foot sloop that was showing her age. Hurley, in like manner, was an attorney whose career had stumbled through several seemingly good ideas, an affair that destroyed his marriage and the destruction of his career when he was voted out of his partnership in a law firm. As his income dropped to zero and he slowly began building a solo practice, Hurley turned back to the sea.

Sailing had been a constant in Hurley’s life and in this time of despair he turned to his first love. Gypsy Moon became Hurley’s anchor and turned into the vehicle he would use to rebuild his life.  In this story he relates the events in a cruise from Annapolis to the Bahamas.  The first stop returns Gypsy Moon to it’s home ports in New Bern and Beaufort.  There Hurley finds himself meditating on his plans and future.  Michael, who was raised an Episcopalian tells us readers of his “...strong impulse toward formality, humility, and decorum when presuming to importune the Almighty.”  Yet, throughout his story you can see God’s hand directing his journey. 

Hurley’s experience as a seaman is obvious in his description of his encounters with the ocean.  If you have sailed through Beaufort Inlet, you will understand his saying “The seas at the entrance to Morehead City remind me of the inside of a washing machine most any day. Tide and season merely determine whether you’re going to get the wash or the spin cycle.”  In like manner he describes his voyage, reflecting on his successes and failures.  The factor of chance one always encounters when depending on wind and wave to move from one place to another leads us to rejoice in his successes and commiserate with him in his failures.

As the years pass and Gypsy Moon moves from port to port, we witness the tribulations of sailing a boat single handed on the open sea.  The intervals between cruises are devoted to financing his dream.  Each cruise is an adventure sometimes being a period of days when wind and sea cooperate to provide days to be remembered for years to come.  On other occasions storms and breakdowns make you glad you are only reading about his struggle to make it safely to port. 

On quiet nights and sun filled days, Hurley meditates on Gods roll in his life.  In the process we learn how his faith has carried through both highs and lows.  On several occasions events seem to have controlled by some higher power.  Hurley meets his wife to be in a way that suggests God’s hand steered him to the meeting.  Then, on the last leg of his journey, Gypsy Moon encounters a rogue wave and loses her long battle with the elements.  In the end, however, Hurley’s faith helps him win his struggle and find his own heart.

If you love the sea or just are interested in a story of one man’s struggle in his path through life, you will find this book hard to put down. As an observer from the outside Hurley allows you to observe God’s hand in his life.