CASTINE — A novelist who has written about mystical schooners and life on the water was rescued by Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship after a storm damaged his sailboat during a trans-Atlantic trip.

The maritime college said its 500-foot training vessel rescued Michael Hurley more than 500 miles off Nova Scotia on Wednesday after his vessel, The Prodigal, suffered damage sailing from South Carolina to Ireland.

The academy’s vessel, the State of Maine, with Hurley aboard, was motoring Thursday toward Portland.

South Carolina-based Hurley, who wrote a book titled “The Prodigal,” said on his website that he planned to draw on sailing for an upcoming book. His wife confirmed his rescue on Hurley’s Facebook page.

This wasn’t Hurley’s first brush with maritime disaster. His website indicates he lost another sailboat between Cuba and Haiti in 2012.

The crew aboard the State of Maine responded to a distress call from the sailboat.


Capt. Leslie Eadie was contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard Regional Coordination Center in Boston regarding The Prodigal, a vessel registered in Norfolk, Virginia, that had been battered by storms and was taking on water. Hurley, the only person aboard, had radioed for help.

The State of Maine was about 29 nautical miles from the sailboat and established communication, determining that the sailboat had structural damage but was still afloat.

Hurley was rescued from the boat within a couple of hours and was able to call family members before being taken to Portland.

“I’m so proud of our fine students, officers, crew and staff, who were put to the test today,” said MMA President William J. Brennan. “Please thank Captain Eadie and all hands for me on a job well done.”

The State of Maine is due to arrive in Portland on Saturday before continuing on to Cobh, Ireland; Norfolk, Virginia; and Searsport, ending in Castine on July 27.

The 500-foot, 16,000-ton training ship was originally commissioned as the USNS Tanner, and served as a Navy oceanographic research vessel before being converted in 1997 to accommodate the training needs of the college. It is the fourth vessel to bear the name State of Maine.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.