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Once Upon a Gypsy Moon: An Improbable Voyage and One Man's Yearning for Redemption
By Michael C. Hurley
Center Street/Hachette Book Group
Reviewed by Travis Fortney
Once upon a time, I came up with a half-baked notion to sail around the world. It didn't matter to me that my only sailing experience up to that point was on a Hobie Cat on Lake Erie. My self-confidence at that time--I was a Junior at Prescott College in northern Arizona--was infectious enough to make other people at least entertain the possibility that I wasn't completely nuts. I remember precisely where my sailing dreams ended. I'd convinced a young lady to take to the seas with me, and we drove together to visit a thirty-six foot sailboat resting in a field on a small farm in Chino Valley. I spoke the the owner of the boat, we climbed aboard, we talked about the price and the work the boat needed, and the owner left us alone to make our decision. We stood together on the deck and looked out over the bow--I suppose both of us were imagining the Arizona desert to instead be the Pacific Ocean--and it suddenly dawned on me that I was expected to purchase this boat. I realized the enormous and thankless task ahead of me if I actually wanted to make the trip happen, and I abruptly came to my senses. But I digress.
For those who understand the urge to leave the landlocked life behind, there are ample rewards to be found in Michael C. Hurley's new memoir Once Upon a Gypsy Moon, which describes the author's solo adventure to Nassau in the Bahamas and beyond. It's not quite a trip around the world, but Hurley does a wonderful job of describing the perils of solo sailing, the determination that such a trip requires, and just how long such a dream must sometimes be held in order to come to fruition. Hurley was first bitten by the sailing bug at the age of eleven but only set off on his trip more than three decades later, when his life was in a state of mild crisis due to a recent divorce and a series of professional and financial setbacks.
Hurley makes for a personable traveling companion, and Gypsy Moon is well written, but I didn't feel like I was the target audience for this book. Hurley's Christianity plays a large role in the text, as do his generational musings, and online dating. It's makes for a touching and engaging read, but readers who share Hurley's concerns about God, fatherhood, infidelity, career, and finding love in early middle age would more closely connect to the book, especially the large sections which don't take place on board the Gypsy Moon.
All in all, Hurley has crafted an inspiring, heartfelt and honest read about accomplishing a long-held dream, which is especially recommended for readers who appreciate inspirational and confessional writing from a Christian viewpoint.
Out of 10: 8