Man sells law firm to follow his sailing dreams then loses boat to storm, but that doesn’t stop him

"If you open yourself up to new experiences, they will lead to new opportunities. If you constantly fear that you have to have a plan, and everything has to be laid out in advance, then you miss out on a lot of the serendipity in life."
July 1, 2018 10:43 am Last Updated: July 1, 2018 10:44 am

All of us have dreams, and the only thing that keeps us from achieving them is ourselves. So if you feel as if you have to make a drastic life decision to follow your passion, then go with your heart.

In 2015, Michael Hurley sold his established North Carolina law firm to follow his dream: writing and sailing the oceans.

(Michael Hurley/Screenshot)

It seems pretty ambitious in itself to want to drop your longtime profession to start a different career—and the fact that he was 58 years old at the time makes it all the more impressive.

But it’s clear that Hurley wanted a change; he already had a novel published back in 2013, and had more in the pipeline.

Even more so, his retirement from law was a chance to embrace his life-long passion—sailing—but he did not have good fortune.

In June 2015, Hurley set off from North Carolina to cross the Atlantic to Ireland.

Hurley had a desire to make an ocean crossing, but 10 days into his 3,500-mile voyage, he had to be rescued at sea after a storm battered his boat—this was the second time he had had to be rescued (the first time in the Windward Passage a few years before), and he lost his boat in the process.

(Johannes Plenio/pexels)

Anyone dealing with that would have all the reasons in the world to be discouraged from going forward with their passion.

But if anything, the loss motivated the man more.

He sold all his possessions and made the trans-Atlantic trip by plane. He spent an extended vacation in Britain to work on a novel, and it was there that he ended up purchasing another boat in the fall of 2015. He gave the vessel the name “Nevermore,” indicating it would be his final shot at sailing.

It became obvious at this point that nothing would stop him from doing what he wanted to do. Nevermore needed a lot of repair work, and he took several months to get her ready for voyaging.

Initially, he planned a round-the-world trip. But it wasn’t long after buying Nevermore that he found love.

Hurley met Jill Gormley, who ran a program for school children with special needs, while in London. The two clicked, and later became engaged.

Gormley had no sailing experience, but was ready for an adventure, and in January 2017 embarked on a four-week voyage with Gormley to St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

He had finally made his ocean crossing—and with the woman who is soon to become his wife.

He sold his N.C. law firm so he could write and sail, from France to the Caribbean and back to North America.

Posted by The Charlotte Observer on Sunday, June 3, 2018

In the course of the trans-Atlantic voyage, their relationship was tested—but passed without a hiccup.

“We didn’t have a single argument in 28 days,” Gormley told the Associated Press.

With more novels published, an ocean crossing, and a London wedding on the horizon, things were looking up for Hurley.

After spending some time in the Caribbean, Hurley completed the final leg of the journey to the U.S.—now Hurley plans to retire from sailing.

(Jahoo Clouseau /pexels)

Setting off in February this year, Hurley made a solo voyage 1,500 miles across the Caribbean, landing in Miami, where Jill rejoined him after two months back in London. The journey will end on June 15 in South Carolina, where the Nevermore will be stored, and they will return to settle in England permanently.

If anything, Hurley is an example of how you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. The man had numerous obstacles thrown his way, and he was still able to overcome it and be where he wanted to be.

“If you open yourself up to new experiences, they will lead to new opportunities,” Hurley told the Associated Press. “If you constantly fear that you have to have a plan, and everything has to be laid out in advance, then you miss out on a lot of the serendipity in life.”

Hurley could’ve easily stayed at his law firm, where he was most likely comfortable and financially stable. Instead, he took a chance on himself, and it ended up paying off.