Inquiry Is a Far Greater Adventure

Teresa Carey Words 16 Comments

After only about a year of cruising, I was introduced to the idea of BCSor – bored cruiser syndrome.

Yes, apparently this exists. Sailors get bored?! Evidently, aside from a few variations in color, the horizon tends to look the same no matter what day of the passage it is. This in fact may be the reason that the average length people go cruising is about two years. After that they sell the boat, and find a new adventure.

But, instead of looking at BCS as a bad thing, why not use it as an indication that it is time for something new! People grow and change, and should move on to different adventures as time moves forward. I don’t think I could ever get bored. Too much to do, to explore! That is why I was surprised when I learned of BCS.

My focus has become less on sailing and more on the ocean. Seems like a contradictory proposition, doesn’t it? Well, since Ben and I have joined forces we want to spend more of our energy finding ways to show care and concern for the ocean. After all, the ocean provides us with joy, a place of work, and – yes – even a place to fall in love. So we must give back!


Blue & Blue

Next month we are headed to Washington DC for the Blue Mind and Blue Vision Summit to join hundreds of other ocean advocates for a few days of learning, collaboration, and a visit to capitol hill. My father warned me to never get into politics – but I can’t turn down the opportunity to meet with Administration and Congress and tell them why protecting the ocean should be a priority.

Sailing Solo

Sailing solo was such an enriching experience. Owning my own boat, maintaining it, and sailing extended solo, offshore passages have been very important sailing experiences. But, when Ben and I went looking for icebergs, we found that inquiry is a far greater adventure. So, now every passage we take has a focus other than the destination.


Last winter we sailed from Panama to Maine and collected samples for a micro-plastic study. In the spring Ben sailed on American Promise with Rozalia Project to document the damage on Cashes Ledge from extensive bottom trawling. An enriching experience like that makes the sailing journey far more valuable. This fall we will be doing ocean acidification research. With all this learning, we can’t help but get passionate about DOING something.

Making Changes

What can we do? Well—Ben and I became vegetarians, which is one of the greatest things an individual can easily do for the environment. After a short transition, your taste buds change and you no longer feel like you are missing out. Now we know there are healthy ways to get all the nutrients and protein the human body needs without needing animal protein. Being vegetarian is better for your pocketbook too. Whoever said eating healthy is expensive is only looking in the organic meat section! Ben and I also took a pledge to reduce our single-use plastics. Namely- we have stopped purchasing all drinks that come in plastic containers – milk, soda, water, etc. If it isn’t in glass, we don’t buy it. Again, this also has added benefits for our health and pocketbook! After that became a routine part of our lifestyle, we gave up individually wrapped snacks. Even Dory the cat is on board. Rachel from Rozallia Project encouraged us to find a cat food that doesn’t contain fish oil.

Next Steps

Now we are looking for the next step and we would love to hear your ideas:

What can we do in our daily lives
to reduce our negative impact on the ocean?

Share your ideas in the comments below and together, with small changes, we can all make a huge difference!

In the meantime – onward we go – to our nation’s capitol for the Blue Mind and Blue Vision Summit! We don’t have BCS! It is exciting to learn about the ocean and take small steps to protect it.

Will you be there?


And here’s a video of Teresa at Pecha Kucha talking about our trip to Armila Panama where there is no word for nature…. because having a word for nature implies a separation between man and nature. It’s a fascinating concept, have a watch!

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.48.01 PM

Comments 16

  1. Scot McPherson

    Hi Theresa,
    This is a great idea. While learning about ways to build and develop schooner camp, I have been looking at research and learning opportunities we and the sail-campers can participate in while we are underway up and down the New England coast. I think it will give added value to our mission as well as added value to our campers sense of worth and membership as custodians of our planet.

    Scot McPherson

  2. Dave


    Growing up on the ocean and boating my entire life I feel at one with the ocean. My wife and I do what we can to help by picking up floating trash and do our own beach clean up days, try and reduce one use plastics, also have changed our lifestyle of eating as to not contribute to industrial agriculture, but we feel like that’s not enough. It’s hard watching these documentaries about the health of our oceans and then not have the time to help because of the 40 work week. We want to get more involved so that our voices can be heard.

  3. Glenn


    1)Cruisers are often at retirement age and feel the effects of an active lifestyle with aches.
    2)It’s a radical break with the comfortable.
    4)Children today seem to cling to their parents for “help” much later in life.
    5)Full time life aboard is not a perm-vacation.
    6)Long term couples who rarely saw each other because of work and family find relationship issues.
    7) Too much boat with too much breakable gear.

    I think you will find these things are way ahead of the list of the 2 year cruising cycle than BCS. Rving and other similar radical lifestyle changes embarked on by retirees find a similar fate in a similar timeframe.

    BCS….no ADHD…maybe

    1. Doug

      Yes I would have to agree. The majority of people likely do not do their homework when it comes to starting a new adventure; not to mention all the factors you listed which are not often considered. How many times have we all started something only to find out we did not really like it.
      I lived in Alaska for a number of years and like sailing perhaps, the people coming up for the illusion of homesteading, not thinking what it would really be like often had a rude awakening. To be hold up in a cabin for 9 months with another person (or by ones self) with very little contact with the outside world, having to forage for food, the insects, long winter nights, etc. It is not an easy life in many ways, though like sailing I would imagine, wonderful if your willing to put up with the struggles and, likely would never want to go back to a “normal” life after having done so.
      Yes, one has to be honest with ones self. It is easy to imagine one is happy by rearranging the furniture or making something, something that it is not.
      The BCS, though a legitimate problem with doing anything repetitiously to me, is likely more an indicator that either there are other issues at play, or as Theresa suggests, ones attitude needs tweaking and applying ones self to ones life in different ways can often make a difference whether we stick with something or not.
      I also think the journey is the destination is so many ways and sharing what one is seeing (all the good and the bad), trying to do useful research along the way, getting involved in an activist sort of way, or being a good teacher are all ways to add depth to the experience and overcome this so called BCS, whatever that is….

  4. Mike

    I stopped buying bottled water. Isopure protein drinks have really great glass bottles that I now refill with water. I was a vegetarian for five years, but gave it up when a girl I was going out with (before I got married) convinced me to eat a nice, big sausage in an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day. Boy did it taste good! I don’t eat a lot of meat now, but I still eat a lot of fish.

    Going vegetarian is good. It makes you more aware of what you’re stuffing in your mouth. Keep at it, but a little sashimi every once in a while from a smaller, fast reproducing fish that you catch yourself probably isn’t too bad for our beautiful blue oceans.

    Different vibe than your site, but you might want to check out La Vagabonde videos:

  5. Reginald Pulley

    Dear Teresa I’m disappointed that you are bored. With the world going to hell you are bored. Being born a women in America who is blessed with God given freedoms you are bored. With the ocean as your personal playground you are bored. Being blessed with the skills to sail to very shore the ocean touches you are bored. There are those who only know that the next sun rise or sunset only marks uncertainty and fear. You need to get a grip with reality. We all know the Lord will have some great trials for us to battle with no certainty we are going win. So it is cute you are a vegetarine, you don’t drink bottle water (your boat must make water) and you want to scrutinize the chemical make-up of the ocean. But I think you are not bored, but have come to the conclusion you need to take you ass back out to sea and go touch all the shores of all the great oceans. Boredom is not in your vocabulary. If your husband dead weight cut it lose and sail on. The tide will be in it’s time to make sail.
    SAIL ON For the Pursuit of Happines

    1. Post
      Teresa Carey

      Reginald! I’m not bored. That is the point – I could never be bored. I’ve got way to many things I want to do to be bored. That is why I was surprised to hear of BCS. Really? Is it real?

      No need to worry about me. My to-do list is way to long to ever become bored! But thanks for the encouragement!

  6. Graeme

    Yep, I can see what you are saying..
    How can you get bored when you have a pursuit, a passion like what Teresa is talking about .
    I think we all need to have some sort of purpose in life, it’s not about self-fulfillment.
    Some people have told me that ‘sailing away’ is a very self-indulgent thing to do.. That’s OK but if we want to be truly happy, we need a purpose.
    Some people care for oceans, some are more passionate about the land, animals or people.
    Some write blogs that encourage.
    These are all good things.
    It doesn’t matter so much what you do, so long as you have something to pursue, something to lead you on..
    Something to live for.

  7. Doug

    I have made small changes. Besides recycling everything they will pick up at home (our society has come a long way in this, yet recycling stuff that we don’t need to produce anyway is I believe closer to the root of the problem), I try to bring my own bags to the store, I use bamboo eating utensils when I travel so I don’t have to throw out plastic ones. I make the effort to bring my used batteries to Staples, old appliances to recycle places, etc.
    I think living on a boat would present its own challenges, things I don’t know about. How do you treat or recycle human waste? How about things like pumping the bilge or excess oil or grease from the engine? I assume you would save all trash to be disposed of at your next port. Like with many parts of our society, there is only so much you can do when living certain lifestyles.
    Perhaps you could comment more on the challenges of recycling at sea or other challenges one might face on land.
    I think a major shift and also getting closer to the root of the problem, is to can and preserve your own foods. Shop at the local markets in season and either freeze or can or dry whatever you can. This not only saves money, it gets one involved in the food process. Not everyone can grow their own food, but ultimately (like sprouting and having small gardens), we all can take huge steps to stop eating out all the time, or eating to go food or fast food.
    This is a big shift in itself, but so worth the effort when you become involved in your food chain, as your great grandparents and even the pioneers had to.
    Its over consumption and waste that are the real polluters. America throws out something like 60% of the food it produces!
    Yes using glass containers that can be used over and over, buying in bulk, buying quality products that are meant to last a life time instead of being disposable, all these things begin the shift of living with the earth instead of against it.
    Putting a bumper sticker on your car that says “Plastic is killing our planet” is a good one.
    As it is said, “It is not what you do, but how you do it, that matters”. In fact as I wrote in a previous post, the journey is the destination. How we take care of the here and now determines where we end up. The means does not justify the end, rather the means is the end. Its the whole kit and caboodle…How great is this?
    I appreciate that you make the point that you feel this way too. Its not just about setting some goal and then come hell of high water getting there. Because even if you do, you suddenly have to make another goal, and another goal, and it never stops. Finding that still place in yourself that reflects all things, all realities is the goal. After all, the consciousness is not in our bodies, but rather our bodies and the world we live in is, in our consciousness. This is an interesting place to start from…
    To become bored is really just a way of saying we’re not aware of the world, the mystery and the magic that is around us all the time.
    I think you both are definitely on the right track… 🙂

    1. Post
      Teresa Carey

      We keep all our trash and recycling for when we make landfall. However, some food waste and human waste can be disposed of in the ocean when we are a great distance from land. It is legal to dispose of paper, metal, and glass as well but I prefer to recycle when possible.

      The oil in the bilge is a tough situation. We try to clean it up with absorby rags. Also, our bilge pump is deeper than the oil (which floats) so it never gets pumped overboard.

  8. Amy

    If you have not read these two books – The Lobster Coast (Woodard) and The Secret Life of Lobsters (Corson) you might enjoy the lobster biology, ocean science and Maine history especially since you live in and know Maine but you didn’t grow up there.
    As far as cutting down on waste goes, if you eat yogurt you might try making your own. Super easy and no plastic to throw away. And you might enjoy the book No Impact Man (Beavan). Many tips therein.

  9. Glenn

    I would to comment on recycling at sea. Human waste has zero negative impact away from the coast..The bad bacteria dies fast in salt water and what is left is fish food.We break our glass containers and it will turn into sea glass. Metal rusts away to nothing but we take both ends out of the can and squash the can flat so sea animals dont get trapped. Food waste is biodegradable.Same with paper. The Evil is plastic. We bring it to port where many places they burn it or dump it in the ocean to get rid of it,The planet is overpopulated. 2.5 billion people try to live on 1 dollar a day and as many as 30% plus of Africians may have HIV. And we still breed like rabbits. We cannot expect people living in abject poverty to care about recycling unless it benefits there day to day survival. Abstract save the planet statements are not relevant to there lives. Ever ask yourself why the Indian government doesn’t do anything about the crazy birth rate? Making your own yogurt might make you feel good about yourself. Being vegan and recycling might make YOU feel good but just remember that your doing this for selfish reason so that YOU can feel good. It is not going to change what is going to happen to the planet one bit. Sad fact for sure and as a lover of nature I wish it were not the case. By the time I die there will be 3 billion people living on the Indian subcontinent and nothing I can do will change that.

    1. Post
      Teresa Carey

      Interesting thought, though your all wrong in many ways.

      I am aware that I make an impact on the planet. I am aware that recycling and being vegetarian are only small steps to help our planet – but I am also aware that I’m only one person and therefore my impact (positive and negative) will be small. Still, my small steps can be positive steps. It is much much much better to do something, no matter how small, than to do nothing at all. Does it make me feel better? Absolutely! It makes me feel responsible, it is a result of caring, and makes me feel like I want to do more. Sometimes it makes me feel bad when I can’t do more. Am I doing it only for myself? No – you are very wrong there. I want the world to be a better place for myself, my family, and all the lovely people in my life – and even those I haven’t met. I’m not doing it for selfish reasons. I actually find it very selfish when I find myself too lazy to recycle a can – especially in the US where recycling is accessible in most places. Therefore, you can assume, I find it equally selfish when you do not recycle. We must hold ourselves and each other to the same standards. We owe at least a tiny effort to our neighbors and the next generation.

      I’m sorry you think that nothing you can do will have an impact. You already are making an impact. It is up to you to decide if it will be mostly positive or mostly negative. You can do that for yourself and for others. Call if selfish if you want, but don’t let that stop you from making a positive impact!

  10. Amy

    Glenn: Data shows that improvements to standard of living (health care, etc) increase child survival which then decreases the birth rate thus leveling population growth. But waste is a much bigger problem in countries with a higher standard of living (think water bottles etc) so Teresa is right to want to change her practices, and more people in industrialized countries should take active steps to reduce waste. In addition, industrialized countries should stop wreaking environmental havok in pursuit of resources.

  11. Fred Roswold

    I think most people quit for reasons other than boredom. Some of Glenn’s points (above) are right on: cruising is a radical break with comfortable lives back home, full time life aboard is not a permanent vacation, and boats break down a lot. Yeah, and Grandkids.

    But the biggest reason is that people often just don’t like sailing and they never figured that out before they left.

    Don’t go cruising unless you love sailing. Period.

    Learn to sail and do a lot of it. Join an adventure sailing program. Get on a race crew. Sail as much as you can for a few years. Do some long passages.

    Then buy a boat. Otherwise it is just a lottery whether or not you’ll like it after a few months and the odds are not on your side.

    You can travel a lot cheaper and easier.

  12. Fred Roswold

    Just one more comment:

    “Unless you really understand the water, and understand the reason for being on it, and understand the love of sailing and the feeling of quietness and solitude, you don’t really belong on a boat anyway. I think Hemingway said one time that the sea is the last free place on earth.” – Humphrey Bogart

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *