By FRED GARTH
There’s this amazing underwater photojournalist named Doug Perrine. You should Google him. His work has been featured pretty much everywhere in books, magazines and films around the world. His expertise as a writer as well as a photographer puts him in a very small circle of creative professionals. Naturally, part of his job is regularly traveling to the ends of the earth — literally — and risking his life to capture unique marine life images. Ah, the quirky life of a photojournalist.
From 1988 until 2000, as the editor of a magazine called Scuba Times, I was lucky enough to work with Doug. He contributed his articles and photos to almost every issue. The magazine and our readership benefited tremendously, and Doug and I became great friends.
A typical conversation with Doug went like this:
“So Fred, the largest aggregation of humpbacks — more than 3,000 whales — occurs every winter at the Silver Bank. I want to go get some killer images.”
“Where the heck is the Silver Bank?”
“It’s 100 miles east of the Turks and Caicos in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve found this 55-foot trimaran sailboat in Miami and the captain — he’s a Frenchman named Gerard Pesty — has agreed to take me there. It would make a fabulous article.”
Despite Doug’s immense photographic skills, deep integrity and steadfast ethics, he pretty much sucked at financial negotiations. I learned this fact one afternoon when he was about to pay $200 to rent a piece of crap car with the back window completely busted out. We were on the tiny island of Grand Turk, and the Rasta dude with the car was eating Doug for lunch. I gently pushed Doug aside, pulled a crisp American $20 bill from my wallet and gave it to the Rasta.
“We’ll be back in two hours,” I said. “Does this rust bucket have any gas?”
“Not much gas braddah, you might haf to put in a gallon uh two,” he said with a giant ivory smile.
Doug stood there flabbergasted as I carefully slid into the somewhat mangled driver’s seat. For once, I had impressed Doug. So, when he told me about the 55-foot trimaran with the French captain, I just had one question.
“How much Doug?”
“It’s only $6,000.”
First, I choked on my tongue, then I caught my breath — this was 1990 after all — and I kind of laughed. “Doug, this is Scuba Times remember. We’re not National Geographic. We don’t have that kind of budget.”
“Yeah, but the boat takes six passengers. We could sell off five spots to your readers to pay for the boat … and my expenses, of course.”
My negotiating skills had apparently rubbed off on him.
It was a wacky plan, but I agreed to put a small blurb with a humpback photo in the next issue before we sent any money to the mysterious Frenchman. We set the price at $1,500 per person. If we got four, we’d break even; five and Doug’s expenses would be covered. I didn’t have much hope it would go anywhere, but I owed it to Doug to try.
After the magazine came out, it took about two days to fill the boat. We even had a waiting list. I was blown away. Doug went to the Silver Bank with the crazy Frenchman, he captured mind-blowing photos as promised and we discovered that our readers were super cool and wildly adventurous. And thus began a brand new division of Scuba Times. Over the next 10 years, we ran trips to Costa Rica, Fiji, Belize, Columbia, Portugal, Russia, the Solomon Islands and, of course, we returned to the Silver Bank every year. I went there for a month in 1996 and cavorted with the thousands of giant whales — definitely an experience of a lifetime. Not only did we produce outrageously popular and unique articles, but we inadvertently created a way for our readers to experience the life of a photojournalist. As the years went by, we started chartering bigger boats and taking photo instructors. We ran specialty diving courses. Scuba companies sent us their latest, greatest gadgets to experiment with. Pretty soon, we were a little like National Geographic, and the waiting list grew.
That was then. This is now. Once again, we’ve decided to open up the world to you, our loyal readers. However, instead of diving, we’re focusing on fishing. Also, we’ve added a giant bonus: Dr. Guy Harvey and his daughter Jessica will be coming along for the excitement.
In September and November, we’re running two Guy Harvey Magazine fishing expeditions to Guy’s favorite place in the world to fish — Tropic Star Lodge in Panama. This is an opportunity for you to catch massive marlin, sailfish, tuna, roosterfish — some 17 species actually — and hang out for a week with the man himself and his amazing daughter, who is also a marine biologist and a delightful person like her dad.
There will be fishing and more fishing as well as cocktail parties and dinners with the Harveys. We’re bringing the newest and coolest Guy Harvey products, from performance shirts to sustainably sourced water bottles, for us to use, abuse and evaluate.
While the cost for one person is more than we paid the snooty Frenchman for his entire boat, it’s basically the same as the standard rate Tropic Star Lodge charges, when Guy is NOT there.
Those who want to participate can help us with ongoing vital marine research and tagging projects we’re doing in conjunction with the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University. We will also have our production team on site filming a documentary for Amazon Prime and Discovery Education. It’s going to be an amazing experience, and we’d love for you to come.
For your convenience, we’ve put an ad with all of the information in this issue (see page 98) or you can email [email protected] to reserve your spot. Spaces are limited, so if you have any interest, I suggest you act now so you don’t end up on a waiting list.
That’s it from here. Enjoy.