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Posted on May 1, 2013 | 2 comments

Book Review: Once Upon a Gypsy Moon

onceuponagypsymoonOnce Upon a Gypsy Moon is not so much a sea-tale as it is a man’s introspective journey into his own motivations, actions, and dreams. While Gypsy Moon (his 32-foot sloop) carried Michael from Annapolis to Nassau and beyond physically, the time he spent single-handing her over that distance carried him much farther emotionally and spiritually. He started his journey lost and lonely after an ugly divorce and ended it as a man with hope for the future.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

The world has a way of working itself out, in my experience. There are things unseen. Life is not always easy or pleasant, and it is often unfair, but it seems to unfold according to some plan of which we are only peripherally aware – like a dream, the details of which are vivid only when we are sleeping. We cannot remember- much less comprehend- that dreamworld with the powers of a rational mind.

Sailing has been a love of mine for almost as long as I can remember, and that love endures…But over the years, the idea of sailing long distances over oceans, unobliged to return, became for me less about adventure than escape- a kind of trapdoor beneath the uncertain footing of a marriage and a personal and professional life that seemed at various times to teeter on the brink of collapse… With no escape hatch, we have to face life head-on, admit our weakness, rely on our relationships, and trust others to catch us when we fall.

The insight in the book was compelling, though at times it did get a little dry. The boat journey was somewhat less exciting than the cover lead me to believe as it was mostly individual legs of a trip broken up by repair stops on his old boat rather than a continuous time line. The final chapter entitled “The Loss of the Gypsy Moon” was certainly the most thrilling of the book as *Spoiler Alert* Michael did eventually have to abandon ship during bad weather after a nasty knock-down and subsequent rescue by the US Coast Guard. Maybe someday she will be found and resuscitated but it seemed a fitting end to the tale of a man who no longer needed his escape hatch.


We would like to pass the book on to one of our readers in our first giveway! If you would like the chance to read Once Upon a Gypsy Moon yourself, there are four ways you can earn entries to the giveway:

  1. Subscribe to this blog via email (look for “Receive updates by email” in the right sidebar)
  2. Leave a comment on this post
  3. Follow us on Twitter @sv_horizon
  4. Like us on Facebook

Each way gets you 1 entry into the drawing, for a maximum of 4 entries. We’ll do the drawing next Tuesday evening and announce the winner on the blog next week! Hope to see your name!

 (In March, we were contacted by Center Street book publishers to do a review on a new memoir that they released on April 16 called Once Upon a Gypsy Moon by Michael Hurley. We agreed, so they sent us a pre-release copy of the book that for some reason we didn’t receive until a couple of weeks ago. This is the first time that we have been contacted to do a review so we’re pretty excited that we are starting to pop up on the radar of the sailing blog world.)

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Posted on Feb 27, 2013 | 0 comments

Stop Being and Start Doing

I don't think that smile could be any bigger.

I don’t think that smile could be any bigger.

Our son Carter has had an obsession with toothbrushes since he was six months old. Not trucks, helicoptors, or trains…toothbrushes. He wants to hold them and brush his teeth, carry them around the house, and he knows exactly which brush belongs to which person. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “That kid is going to be a dentist someday.” Being a dentist would certainly not be a bad career path for my son to aspire to in the future, but my real hope would be not just that Carter would find a profession he wanted to be, but find something he loves to do. 

I believe that our culture is a little too stuck on this idea of being. I am a Mom, Engineer, Waitress, Police Officer. I want to be a Ballerina, Teacher, or Baseball Player. What if instead of aspiring to be someone, we aspire to do something instead? What do you want to do? Teach, scuba dive, sail, help people, save lives, play baseball, dance…you name it. Now, instead of trying to fit your actions into your label, just forget the label and do the actions. When you are doing what you love, who you are to other people becomes a lot less important all of the sudden.

That’s all nice and fluffy to think about, I know. What about food, and house payments, and my student loans to get that label, you say. Well, the beauty is that usually the people who are really loving what they do are the ones who are the most successful at it. And, unless what you want to do is own a fancy sports car and million dollar yacht, you probably need a lot less money than you think. So let me ask you, what do you want to do? Then go do it.

Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on May 13, 2012 | 1 comment

Happy Mother’s Day

The day I became a mother.

As an employee of a local children’s hospital, I regularly hear testimony from families who have been changed forever by an illness or accident that has happened to their child. This Mother’s Day, one mother of a long time patient wrote a blog post for the hospital that I would like to share with you. She reminds us to celebrate every moment with our children, even those that seem “ordinary”. Enjoy and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

“I celebrated Mother’s Day 2011 by begging my then three-year-old son to let me sleep-in as my Mother’s Day present.  That was at 6:47 in the morning.  By 7:06 AM I was awakened by a trumpet solo from my dear, dear, baby boy.  Yes, a trumpet solo for my Mother’s Day present.  A trumpet solo right in my face as I lay in bed.  I actually felt the toy trumpet hit the tip of my nose several times during the performance.  Okay, okay, I’m up.  With a hint of sarcasm, I thought to myself, “happy Mother’s Day to me” as I shot up and out of bed at 7:07 AM.  I could either send Noah away with a stern mommy-look and try to fall back to sleep or…I could…dance.   By 7:08AM on Mother’s Day 2011, I was dancing in gleeful circles with my little trumpeter swinging from my arms.  I felt so blessed to be celebrating another Mother’s Day, and especially this particular Mother’s Day.  Here’s why…

Seven months prior to the Mother’s Day trumpet solo, I was a mother who held her second child, her four-day-old daughter, as she lay dying in my arms.  I was a mother who was going to spend hours upon hours in a tiny chapel on the first floor of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, begging God to let me keep one of his angels here on earth; while the doctors upstairs tried desperately to save Ella’s life through science and medicine.  I was a mother who would be defined through living nine months of life with one child safe at home and the other fighting for each of her next breaths in a critical care unit, hours away from the safety of our home.

I would come to realize that the title “mother” is the greatest of all gifts to be given and received.  It is the gift of song.  It is the gift of dance.  It is the gift of unimaginable strength.  It is the gift of a love so pure, and yet, so powerful.  It is the gift of setting priorities and defining what moments truly matter in life.  It is the gift of belly-laughs.  It is the gift of overcoming fears.  It is the gift of finding yourself through loving someone else unconditionally.  It is the gift of never-forgotten memories.  It is the gift of understanding that the ordinary moments of life are all actually the extraordinary ones.  It is the gift of a celebratory perspective of life.

Last year, not only did I celebrate an early morning trumpet solo by dancing to the tune, but I also celebrated many of the most common and ordinary moments of motherhood.  I celebrated washing a batch of pink, girl laundry at home.  I celebrated washing Ella’s hospital blankets because at one point in our journey, I was told my daughter probably would not survive the night.  Here I was, months later, with my first batch of pink laundry.  I was celebrating laundry!  I celebrated every midnight moment where I was awake comforting my daughter through dealing with the pain of pervious surgeries to try and fix her broken heart.  I celebrated even though those midnight moments were shared with critical-care nurses.  I was celebrating lack of sleep!   I celebrated being able to once again hold my daughter in my arms.  It would be the first time in several months I was able to hold her after the moment I held her as she lay dying in my arms at four days old.  I was celebrating the numbness in my arms because of holding a chubby baby!  I even celebrated baby poop.  There was time when no one knew if my daughter’s bowels would ever work normal.  I was celebrating poop!

I realized that not only were we gifted the title “mother” from our little ones, but through that gift we were given ordinary moments to either take for granted or to celebrate as extraordinary ones.  I call it CellaBRATING LIFE.

I wish you an ordinary Mother’s Day 2012 full of laundry, midnight shenanigans, numb arms, normal bowel movements and maybe, if you’re lucky, even an early morning trumpet solo!”

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Posted on May 8, 2012 | 0 comments

A Wife’s Tale

It has come to my attention that I am not the “typical” boat wife. Apparently, a significantly larger percentage of men in the boating world would like to go cruising than their long-suffering wives… patiently rolling their eyes as the husband goes on again about the freedom of the open sea and other such nonsense as she sees it. Therefore, I have decided to take up my little soapbox today in the name of the crazy wives who actually think that the cruising life sounds like the best idea our husbands have ever come up with.

Let me start by saying that when Dan first brought up the idea a few years ago I actually laughed in his face. This was the most ridiculous idea he had ever come up with. We didn’t sail, I’m somewhat afraid of water, and we don’t even eat fish! No thank you. Also, I was enjoying our life and looking forward to a little family and the white picket fence; June Cleaver was my subconscious hero. In short, I just wasn’t ready yet for such a drastic dream.

Then a year ago, Dan starting looking into cruising again, more seriously this time. He brought the idea to me somewhat more cautiously optimistic than the first time, backing himself up with some realistic expectations. His enthusiasm caught my attention more than anything else. He let me know that he really wanted to go cruising but he needed me to make my own decision about it; he couldn’t let himself get any deeper without becoming emotionally committed to the dream. So I decided to do my own research and that I would make a real decision after our cruise to the Southern Caribbean, where we would be spending some time on smaller boats that would give me at least some idea of what sailing was about.

The first conclusion I came to was that living on a boat was definitely possible for us. (I know that sounds a little obvious, but it was a pretty big leap for a girl who had never been on a sailboat before.) Now I needed to decide if this was really what I wanted for me. Not because I loved my husband and wanted to make him happy, not because it would be a nice experience for my son, but because this was my dream. As I read and listened, a yearning started to build in my heart that was becoming my own. Finally, near the end of our cruise, I was standing on the top deck of our ship looking out at the huge moon reflecting off of the ocean waves and I knew: my life will not be complete until I see this scene from my own deck.

I want to encourage the wives out there, take your husband seriously when he brings you a dream that is in his heart. I believe that we find the person who was designed to unlock our deepest desires and greatest potential, but we are also the person who could crush that potential much more easily. Do you want to be the wife standing in the wings with a leash, or do you want to be a partner in a fantastic adventure?

Follow your dreams. Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on May 7, 2012 | 1 comment

How did we come up with this idea anyway?

This sums up why we wanted to move there. Bay of Islands, NZ

NaBloPoMo asks “What sports did you play as a child?” Michele and I certainly didn’t sail. I played pretty much every sport an American child in the Midwest can play, just not sailing. We’re talking basketball, baseball, football, floor hockey, soccer, swimming, track and field, you name it I played it. So how did Michele and I come up with the crazy idea to sail full time?

A few years ago I had watched the documentary Ice Blink… At the time I thought little more about it than “Wow that’s cool.” The seed of sailing (and crusing) had been planted however. As Michele and I became more and more disillusioned with money and “stuff” we began searching for alternatives. Cruising was not at the top of the list, surprisingly. We seriously explored moving to New Zealand. New Zealand is in the midst of a brain drain as most of its young educated people move elsewhere, primarily Australia. Because of this brain drain, IT workers (and especially network engineers) wanting to move into the country are on somewhat of a fast track approval.

We went so far as to tell our families we were moving to live the life of Kiwis… but what was the life of a Kiwi? Our primary motivation was to reprioritize our lives away from what is fake and towards what is real. We started talking to people from New Zealand to get a feel for what life there really is all about. We would still need to work full time, if only to keep our fast track status. Slowly, we figured out that the freedom we were searching for doesn’t have as much to do with “where” as with “when” and “what” you are doing. Time-freedom is hard to come by. Cruising fulfills both aspects of what drove Michele and I to want to move to New Zealand: time-freedom and exploration. The ability to set sail within a few hours notice for whatever port you would like definitely is quite alluring for the both of us. The time-freedom to explore those ports, as well as ourselves, is what calls us to the sea.

This post is part of our NaBloPoMo series. Follow the Horizon is participating in National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). NaBloPoMo is for bloggers who commit to post each day in the month of May.

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