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‘Aha’ moments shared by readers

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For the last several months, we decorated the outside of our cubicle walls with more than 100 photographs of boats, seabirds, sunsets, smiling kids and much more.

This bounty of images came from you, our readers, as part of our “Real Boats, Real Boaters Photo Contest.” What started as a trickle eventually filled more than eight large cubicle panels. We looked at them daily. Thanks for sharing those moments with us.

Despite less-than-ideal spring and summer weather in the Northeast and beyond, you clearly made the most of it. This photo by Leland Wilson showing a fleet of 22-foot Pulsifer Hampton skiffs picking their way through some thick weather is pretty reminiscent of what many of us encountered this season.

Created with Admarket'sflickrSLiDR.

You can view all of the entries above -- click on the photo to see more information about that image. You can also view these and other Reader phtoos on the Soundings Flickr page.

Click here to find our Grand Prize winner, our other winners, our cover finalists, so-called “fan” favorites and others. The selection jury consisted of our art director, three editors and me. One afternoon, we spread copies of all the photos on the floor and studied them. The next day, we laid them out on a large conference room table and put sticky notes on our favorites. We debated our choices, lobbied for our favorites and eventually came to a consensus.

Our winning cover photo was taken by Bob Fahey as he and his wife, Kelley, returned home to Barnegat Bay, N.J., this summer via the C&D Canal after a Chesapeake Bay cruise. To catch the tide, they had gotten under way before sunrise and were following their friends Ron and Kathy Minchin aboard their 1960s vintage Pearson, Stormy Petrel, when Fahey spotted this “aha” moment.

“We were doing 6 knots under power, and I saw the sun coming up behind them,” recalls Fahey, 39, an amateur photographer who specializes in computer information security. “I said, ‘Kelley, take the wheel. I’ve got to run below.’ ” Fahey reappeared a moment later with his trusty Cannon EOS Rebel XT.

“I literally leaned over the side,” he says. “The tricky part was I had to shoot into the sun.” He quickly adjusted the camera settings and fired off two shots before the light changed and the moment passed.

It wasn’t until later, when they were anchored beside the Coast Guard station in Cape May, N.J., that the sailors realized what they had captured. “We were looking at the pictures on the laptop and, when that one came up, we all just stopped,” Fahey says.

It stopped us, too.

We hope you enjoy the show.

“… the little puffing breaths of the porpoises curving lazily round us sounded like someone sneezing in church.”

— Frank Wightman

See related article:

- Captured Rapture

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue.