My iPhone died in Samish Bay and other tales from the road


My iPhone died in Samish Bay.

On our final full shoot day with Ian Jefferds of Penn Cove Shellfish, the plan was for us to head out to the oyster and clam beds. The thing is, though, that these shellfish are farmed out in the middle of the bay and you can only see them at low tide. The guys at Penn Cove head to the beds while the tide is going out and then they are essentially stranded there until the tide comes back in about eight hours later. We didn’t have eight hours to spend on getting the shots of the oysters and clams, so we timed it so we’d be able to take a boat out to the beds right as the tide was coming back in, get the shots and the interview and then head back to shore. At least that was the plan.

After pulling on hip waders and donning a life jacket, we waded out into the water and climbed up onto one of Penn Cove’s boats. We were shooting in June, but it was chilly and misty and utterly beautiful. Canada was visible just on the other side of the bay. We motored out to the beds — it took us about 40 minutes to get there. Once we began nearing the beds, we slowed down and began looking for a good spot for us to jump off and wade to where the oyster tumblers and clam beds were located.

We jumped off the boat into the knee-high water and began walking against the incoming tide to get to the oysters and clams. Chris and Jeff had all of their camera equipment and I had my mic tucked into the back of my waistband as usual and my iPhone in my jacket pocket so I could take photos. As we were walking, Jeff started telling me about how he’s gotten stuck from time to time in the muck on the bottom of the bay. I glanced his way and saw that he was pulling up on the tops of his waders, so I did the same and just as I did, I stopped short. My right foot was stuck!

I stood there, the incoming tide pushing against me, and tried to pull my foot out of the mud … by this time, the water had risen a few more inches and was about mid-thigh. I could not move my foot! I was leaning forward, trying to yank my foot out of the mud, and the water was pushing against me … needless to say, I fell back, slow motion, into the bay, taking the mic and my iPhone with me. The guys waded over and helped me up, grabbed my leg and pulled my foot out of the mud. They asked me if I was OK, and I was drenched, but I was fine.

We needed to get the shot — we were heading to Seattle the next day to interview Tom Douglas and visit the Pike Place Fish Market, so if we didn’t get this shot now, we’d never get it. So we continued our trek. Water had filled my hip waders and it wasn’t easy making it the rest of the way, but we got to the oysters, which are grown in tumblers to give them a deep cup, and we got the interview. My mic was dead, but Ian’s was perfectly fine, so with Canada over my shoulder and water in my boots, we discussed the finer points of oyster farming.

With the interview and b roll wrapped, we walked back to the boat, the tide continuing to rise, and climbed aboard and motored the 40 minutes back to shore. By that time I was really cold. I stripped off the waders and wrung out my socks, but there was no getting warm on the boat. When we got back to shore, we headed for a local bar and toasted to our Samish Bay adventure with a round of bourbon.

Catherine Neville