A crappy shot, but your first time doesn't have to be great to be memorable;
Jim Abernethy is a force of nature. I'm a pretty self confident guy and I rarely meet anyone I consider a better man but Jim clearly qualifies on a whole bunch of levels. Let's take this little afternoon dive as an example. My job was to try and make some great images of sharks and get myself and my camera back on the boat safely and have some fun. This was my limited but difficult goal. Jim's job is to position the boat correctly, organize his crew and the "guests". Make sure all the divers are safe and happy. In short to do all the things that make a JASA trip so special, and make some great images and have some fun. In the middle of all this his friend Emma the fourteen foot pregnant Tiger Shark shows up unannounced on a reef he hasn't seen her on. I was right beside him and got to see a man in his element. Fending off the magnificent supermodel shark with one hand, taking pictures with the other and all the while scanning his divers and the ocean for the tiger that we might miss. You know what really impressed me? I'll bet he had the best images on the boat. This is my first trip with Jim and I had read all the old posts with various opinions of him and his operation. The one piece of the Abernethy puzzle I had not picked up on was how much fun he is having. In the end I thinks that's why he does all the hard work to run his unique operation. If you are a competent diver and have the experience under your belt to be able to pay attention to what Jim tells you, you will have a trip of a lifetime. I know of nowhere else in the world where you are given so many opportunities to make great images. This is not like the sharks dives where your lined up in a row and watch sharks come in and get fed. This is entirely different and nothing like the other "shark dives" I've been on in my forty some years of diving.
The 14 ft super model Emma;
I had the luxury of being on the Backscatter trip with some very experienced first rate U/W photographers. Everyone knew what to do, It was a real joy to be able to tag along with a group like this. We ended the trip with a day at Tiger Beach. Unhappily there were no Tigers on this day. I had really wanted to see a 14 foot shark in 15 feet of water. We had to "make do" with 6 Lemon sharks doing figure eights on the sand.
My new friend Sterling and a Lemon;
One other quick note, if you've been on the Shear Water in the past, I've got great news. Mike has come aboard to be the new chef. No more microwave lunches. This young man can cook! We had hot lunches every day, breakfast was what ever you wanted and dinner was great every night. We had two vegetarians on the boat and some other folks who didn't eat beef. He took it all in stride and everyone was happily accommodated. He also knows more jokes than Jim which is saying something. Now happily I have a new place I can go, if only in my mind when I need a break from the everyday. In the end that may be the most valuable thing we take away from a trip like this. We all have mental images we take away from trips. On Jim's boat you have great chance of matching them up with the ones you actually capture.
Edited by Steve Williams, 28 June 2009 - 10:15 PM.