One Simple Question: what’s it like to go cruising?

I thought I knew what One Simple Question was about: it was the tale of an environmentally-focused expedition to give witness to global warming, by visiting a southbound iceberg in the north Atlantic. Well, not exactly.

One Simple Question does address environmental issues, but this is the tangential vehicle for the focus of the movie. And the focus of the movie is something that anyone who reads this blog is going to be interested in watching, because what the filmmakers do is give you a fly-on-the-wall look at what it is ACTUALLY LIKE to go cruising, and they nail it. The iceberg? It comes up in the beginning, but not again until something like 2/3 of the way through the movie. It’s interesting, but it’s not the point.


The title of this post isn’t really the question being asked: they ask a much bigger question, along the lines of this inspirational drawing by my friend Carver…one I keep where I can easily read it from my workspace on Totem.

Never stop doing what you love to do

For many people who get a taste of life on the sea, variations on this becomes the question. Ben and Teresa share how they came to be water-borne, and how they’re trying to make it work. And along the way, they answer the other question- what’s it like?- in an accessible way.

We watched this as a family one evening while the wind howled from across the Namib desert over Totem, and sank into the sound of the sea rushing by the hull of Ben’s cutter, Elizabeth, as he and Teresa sailed north from New England in search of an iceberg.ST_GP-KiteCamAerial

I almost wish for a spycam record of our reactions,because there was a lot of giggling, a lot of “THIS! EXACTLY!” and “remember that?” and “oh, we have (or had, or want) that (insert gear).” When I got especially excited about their route Jamie reminded me that my  higher-latitude aspirations require wearing more clothes. right.

While we’re quite different in many ways, the fundamentals are the same: the aspects of cruising that keep us up at night or occupy our days; the Oh Shit moments when weather gets ugly; the experiences that either drive us crazy or make us feel like we’ve won the lottery to be out here living on a boat.


Ben and Teresa share their story, and also bring in a “who’s who” of bluewater luminaries to share their perspective in interview excerpts. Along with credited experts, these people match pretty well with my heroes: the people who inspire me in our life afloat. Like the Martins, who infected me years ago with the unrequited desire to seek higher latitudes with children. The Pardeys, who… well, really, they’re probably most responsible for the growth small-boat voyaging. And Wallace J. Nichols, the ocean scientist with inspiring writing about the connection between experiences near water and our brains.


This is a great movie to inspire anyone who wants to go cruising. And while I may have discounted the environmental message upfront, it has interesting information and discussion with experts to better understand the dynamics of these majestic mountains of floating ice, and what’s happening in the North Atlantic.

There are two good ways to see One Simple Question. The first is to order a DVD, which you can do from their website, The other is to host a screening, which will give you a whole pile of goodies along with the DVD (to learn how, see Host a Screening). If we weren’t so itinerant in our lives, I think that’s exactly what I do with a group of fellow sailors and bluewater dreamers back at home… with rum drinks and salty talk to accompany!

Thanks to Ben & Teresa for letting us view One Simple Question. We’re looking forward to meeting you in the Caribbean and getting a better understanding for why you went north instead of, say, the Bahamas.

This post is syndicated on Sailfeed.

One Response

  1. well done, I can say that this is on my birthday list for sure now. not to mention it would tie in well with my daughters environmental studies class.

    fair winds and thanks for inspiration!

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