TRAVERSE CITY — Teresa Carey had sailed all over the world, but she’d never seen an iceberg.
So when she and husband Ben, both Coast Guard licensed captains and communications freelancers, got a break between jobs, they decided to sail north to find one.
Their adventure is documented in a soon-to-be released feature film called “The Simple Quest.” The documentary, jointly produced by the couple and the Florida-based production company Doctrine Creative, will be the subject of a free test screening Sunday at the State Theatre. Audiences will watch a 120-minute rough-cut of the film, complete feedback forms and participate in a guided discussion.
“The audience members are volunteering to be a critical part of the filmmaking process,” said Carey, a Kalkaska native now based in Massachusetts. “We’re having these test screenings to make our film better.”
Carey learned to sail with her family on Lake Michigan, near Elk Rapids. Later she studied environmental science at the University of Michigan and spent summers crewing and teaching sailing.
She was piloting boats around the East Coast and looking for one to buy when she met Ben, who was selling his on Martha’s Vineyard. In the end, she bought a different boat and he sold his and bought another. But they’ve been sailing together ever since.
The couple was living on Long Island, N.Y., when they decided to sail to the French island of St. Pierre off Newfoundland, Canada. Ben speaks French and someday hopes to sail to France.
While preparing for the trip, they learned about Newfoundland’s Iceberg Alley, which stretches from Greenland to the southern east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
“That became my motivation,” Carey said. “I’d never seen an iceberg. I wanted to see one for the same reason that people want to see the Grand Canyon: it’s this big, beautiful, natural, spectacular thing, just like an iceberg is.”
Originally the couple planned to film the trip for a series of YouTube videos. But after word of their quest got around, they were contacted by Doctrine Creative, which has done work for The Disney Channel and Nickleodeon, for permission to make a full-length film. Carey said the partners plan to enter it into film festivals and to host premieres and public screenings beginning as early as October.
“The appeal to the audience is going to be the adventure,” said Director Derek Rowe, whose interest in the project was piqued by the idea of leaving everything behind to create a simpler lifestyle. “It’s the adventure of two people saying they wanted to see an iceberg and then doing it. And the concept of going where the wind takes you. When you’re on a boat, you truly start to believe the possibilities are endless.”
The Careys set off in June 2011 with a cameraman — the first of three — and their cat, Dory, in their 28-foot cutter. Their three-month voyage took them to Maine; Nova Scotia, Canada; Newfoundland; and St. Pierre. Along the way they endured thick fog, rough weather, icy northern waters and sleepless nights spent rotating three-hour watches.
Finally, after 1600 miles, they saw an iceberg off the northeast tip of Newfoundland — and not just any iceberg.
“We saw Petermann Ice Island, which broke off of Petermann Glacier,” Carey said. “Scientists had been following it for the last year and there were stories about it the paper, so we knew it was coming. It’s the biggest northern iceberg in six decades.”
Besides footage of the adventure, the film includes insight from seasoned voyagers and information about the journey of icebergs, and about glaciers in Greenland, from scientists studying the ice and the impacts it has on the global climate.
But for Carey, who also teaches marine science and oceanography, it’s all about the film’s title.
“I like the title because it has the word quest in it,” she said. “It’s about that simple quest to see an iceberg that leads into this huge discovery of ourselves, our journey, climate change and the Petermann Ice Island and all these things we never thought we’d learn about. People do need to ask the simple questions and follow through with them because there’s a lot to be learned.”
Sunday’s test screening — the only public one and the only one to take place in a theater — begins at 10 a.m.