South Carolina author Michael Hurley set sail for Ireland hoping to do some research for his next novel. Instead, he lost his sailboat, had to be rescued by students, and failed to reach his goal by about 2,000 miles; but he came back with a story he probably couldn't have conjured and the relieved need for a divorce lawyer. As the AP reports, Hurley and his wife, Susan, were headed for a split but began talking again as he sailed; eventually they reconciled and decided to renew their vows. "We just had come to a point where we needed something to move us off dead center. This apparently was it. So there's a silver lining in that. This was the impetus that helped us to change our marriage," Hurley says.
Then Hurley's boat—The Prodigal, named for an earlier book—got hit by a pair of storms and began taking on water some 500 miles south of Newfoundland. His alert was received by the Maine Maritime Academy, which was on a student-training mission. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, hopefully," says the student officer on duty. "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." They rescued Hurley on Wednesday; The Prodigal is presumed to have sunk. Hurley says he'll complete the journey to Ireland this summer, with Susan, and there they'll renew their vows. As for his next novel, The Passage, "This has altered the plot line of the book a bit." (Read more Atlantic Ocean stories.)