Whalin' buddy Minette and I have a long-standing rivalry. Her account of the rivalry would be something like "I get the good photos." I would not disagree with that, but I would edit. Specifically, I would add "...because John selflessly mans the helm and points me at the whales."

Because of this, I gave Minette some practice helm time. The idea was that she, too, could operate the boat while someone else got the shot. This weekend, Minette took the helm for the first time during an actual whale situation.

"All stop!" I directed from the slick aft deck. And Minette jammed the throttle to Full, sending me and my camera tumbling hard to the floor.

"Sorry!" she giggled.

I missed the shot. And I almost dropped $3000 worth of camera into Puget Sound.

Later, she joined me aft. I was poised with my camera on the port side, stalking where I thought a whale would rise next to the boat. Minette wriggled her body on to the boat's port side, trying to get a few inches closer. When the whale rose, I had the shot and she didn't. So naturally, she wriggled back off the side and obstructed my lens with her thigh. Hmm.

For the rest of the trip, we traded off. I stalked the whales from the helm, running parallel to their course, getting Minette close for her shot. Click click click. When it was her turn at the helm, Minette cheerfully steered away from the whales. Fuck click fuck. "I feel bad," she said. Yeah, well, me too.

My shot:

grays Mar08 025.JPG

Her shot:

minette gray.jpg

Mind you, our lenses are about the same length.

One time, despite Minette's best efforts to steer away from them, a whale rose next to the boat. Good shot. Not great, but good. (thumbnail, make sure to enlarge)