Thursday, May 5, 2011

CAPTAINS PLOT 'ONE SIMPLE QUESTION' - a changing lifestyle

Captain Teresa Carey, a graduate of Kalkaska High School, steers her 27-foot sail boat. This summer she plans to film a two-person voyage to Iceberg Alley with co-captain Ben Eriksen. (Photo special to The Leader)
It seems like each month a new gadget hits the market — BluRay, Kinect, iPads. Despite all of the new technology, however, some people are choosing a simpler approach.

Others, like Captain Teresa Carey, discovered simplicity out of necessity. For her, what started as a desire to live at sea has turned into a lifestyle she enjoys and embraces.

This summer, Carey, a graduate of Kalkaska High School, will tape her simple life at sea for the documentary “One Simple Question.”

Carey started downsizing in 2008 when she decided to quit her job and move onto her 27-foot sailboat. She had to simplify to fit on the boat, so she decided to chronicle her adventures on a blog, “Sailing Simplicity.”

“When I did that, I really didn’t know what I was speaking about,” Carey admitted. “I became more knowledgeable about it than I expected. I learned about the philosophy and history of volunteer simplicity and its connection with past and current events.”

Through her experiences, Carey became an unexpected spokesperson for the lifestyle.

“That was the most surprising part of the process,” she said. “I didn’t really intend that when I started, but it’s exciting to share my experiences with other people who are also excited about simplicity.”

One person with whom she shared her experiences was Captain Ben Eriksen. They met in 2008 when Carey contacted him about buying his boat.

“He thought it was unique that I was the only female who inquired about it,” Carey said. “He kept emailing me, even though I bought another boat. We met, and we’ve been sailing together ever since.”

The couple has since taken several sailing trips together, and at Thanksgiving last year, they started planning another trip. This time, however, they wanted to do more than just sail together.

They decided to help others gain a better understanding of sailing, as well as simplicity.

“It’s not beautiful sunsets and Jimmy Buffet music,” Carey said. “We want to show what it’s really like to live on a small sailboat. We also want to show the value of simplicity, and the happiness found in seeking out that sort of lifestyle.

“Ben and I have been interested in film for a while,” she said. “In January, we decided to make one. We created the concept for the film, made a website, and people started getting interested.”

The film is “One Simple Question.” The duo plans to sail around Newfoundland to find an uncharted iceberg in Iceberg Alley. A videographer will travel with them to record the event. They are working with two production companies, Doctrine Creative and Reach Within, to create the documentary.

Though Carey and Eriksen often sail separately on their trips, they will join forces for the film on Eriksen’s 28-foot Bristol Channel Cutter, “Elizabeth.”

“It’s more affordable and safer to have everyone on one boat,” Carey said. “Ben and I are pretty independent sailors. We’re both captains. This will be our first extended trip together, so it will make the film more interesting.”

The route is planned and the production companies are ready, but Carey said they are stilling waiting on one major component for the trip — funding. On April 10 they launched a Kickstarter Fundraiser.

Using the Kickstarter website, they set a goal of 32 days to raise $8,000. Their deadline is May 12. If they don’t meet their goal, the site will not collect the pledged money. “With Kickstarter it’s an all-or-nothing campaign,” Casey said.

The pair has already appeared in Annapolis to promote their work, and they’re scheduled to be on Long Island on May 5. On May 17, Carey will talk about their adventure at the TED Conference in Traverse City.

Carey has high hopes for their film, so she and Ericksen are working hard to raise the final $2,300. Their ultimate goal is to create a film that will inspire people to question the ways they live, and seek out simpler ways to accomplish their goals. Even if that doesn’t happen, a seed has already been planted.

“The most rewarding part of this experience so far has been seeing people get involved and get interested,” Carey said. “They are joining the conversation on Facebook, making donations, and volunteering. They’re learning while they’re getting involved.”

For more information, or to donate to the campaign, visit or

Contact Karin Beery at

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