I think the rules here in Cali are very similar to what you posted, Rory.
I have always been lucky on whale watch tours. First was in Maui off Molakini and they stopped the boat after siting a whale. I was on the front of the boat with my boys. Captain said over loud speaker "HANG ON" and then the momma breached right in FRONT OF THE BOAT! Keefer did a very quick butt scoot backwards! It was awe-inspiring! Then the momma turned to the left and a baby surfaced right by her side. I could have jumped off the boat onto either of their backs.
We went also once on a work outing. Took some famous boat out (america? i tried to google it.. but eh) and after a couple of hours in miserable weather, rain, and cold (January) we finally saw a couple of whales. Always beautiful.