South Carolina novelist Michael Hurley began to set sail on May 25 in Charleston using his 30-foot ketch which he named "The Prodigal." The author had intended to go on a solo sailing adventure in order to get some fodder for an upcoming novel called "The Passage." He was heading towards Ireland.
Hurley said his sailboat had been battered by a number of storms and had been taking in some water around 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) into his journey to Ireland. The vessel was then abandoned and was said to be drifting around 500 miles (804 kilometers) south of Newfoundland. He was finally rescued last week by college students and staff from the Maine Maritime Academy.
According to Nathan Gandy, the commandant in charge of midshipmen in the academy's training vessel, while they had responded to maritime emergencies in the past, the rescue they made on Wednesday was the first ever rescue that was ever conducted by students aboard a training cruise.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, hopefully," said Gabrielle Wells who was the student officer of the deck during that time when the alert came in. "It was nerve-racking because we kept calling and calling and we had no answer. So we didn't know if he was in his sailboat or in the water."
Two weeks prior to his journey, Hurley and his wife had talked about breaking up. However, the couple began communicating again while Hurley was in the middle of his journey. His rescue came three days after he and his wife decided to renew their vows.
"We just had come to a point where we needed something to move us off dead center," said Hurley. "This apparently was it. So there's a silver lining in that. This was the impetus that helped us to change our marriage."
On Wednesday, the day when Hurley was rescued, his wife Susan made a post on his Facebook page.
"Hi everyone, this is Susan. Just want everyone to know Mike has been rescued by the Coast Guard and is on his way to Maine."
The couple's profile in Facebook says that they have been married since Aug. 28, 2010.
Hurley said that he and his wife plan to travel to Ireland later in the summer and renew their vows.