Government Chains Blacktip Island to Sea Floor

The chains holding Blacktip Island to the seabed were forged on site and installed by Public Safety Department scuba divers.

The chains holding Blacktip Island to the seabed were forged on site and installed by Public Safety Department scuba divers.

In an effort to keep Blacktip Island in place should it break free from its foundation, the Tiperon Islands Public Safety Department has installed chains to hold the Caribbean island to the seabed.

“Given the advanced stage of erosion under the island, we were concerned Blacktip might come loose and float away,” public safety spokesperson Rocky Shore said. “The last thing we want to be is a navigational hazard.”

“The bigger worry was if Blacktip drifted into someone else’s territorial waters,” added acting-mayor Jack Cobia. “I mean, a good south wind and we’d be part of Cuba in a day, day-and-a-half, tops. And I don’t speak a lick of Spanish.”

The island’s tourism professionals fully back the measure.

“This has been a huge worry among our scuba diving guests,” said Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens. “They ask all the time if the island goes all the way to the bottom. Now we can take them down and show them the safeguards we have in place.”

“There’s no chance divers will surface and finding our island’s gone,” Club Scuba Doo manager Polly Parrett said. “That’s happened other places in the Caribbean, you just don’t hear about it. Tourism departments hush that sort of thing up.”

Government engineers teamed up with the island’s scientific community to design the mooring system.

“Every computer simulation we’ve run shows this is the best way to safeguard the island,” Tiperon University-Blacktip professor Ernest Mojarra said. “It’s not the easiest solution, or the cheapest, but these chains’ll hold up to a Cat Five hurricane without missing a beat.”

The chains are forged from a titanium alloy formulated to reduce corrosion and wear-related weakening. Individual links were manufactured on site due to their size and weight.

“It took every tree on the island to keep the forges hot, but that couldn’t be helped,” the government’s Shore said. “It was deforestation or public safety.

“We left plenty of slack to allow for tides and storms, so Blacktip’ll drift a bit,” Shore added, “but we’re only talking maybe a 100-meter total swing, max. Divers using landmarks on shore may have a little trouble finding dive sites, but not much.”

Environmental groups, while decrying the topside damage, are pleased with the shelter the chains will offer aquatic life.

“These big links going down, down, down from the surface will provide wonderful new habitat for species throughout the water column,” said Ginger Bass, Foundation for Ichthyologic Species Habitat president. “We couldn’t be happier about that.”

Scuba resorts are already pitching the mooring system as unique dive sites.

“It’ll be lovely once there’s some sponge and coral growth on the links,” Club Scuba Doo’s Parrett said. “Our chains will be one of the Caribbean’s premier dives in a few years.”

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Divemaster Strike Closes Blacktip Island Reefs

Protesters have blocked the Blacktip Island airstrip, preventing resort owners from flying in replacement divemasters. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

Protesters have blocked the Blacktip Island airstrip, preventing resort owners from flying in replacement divemasters. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

In a move sending shock waves through the Caribbean scuba diving community, dive staff at all Blacktip Island’s resorts have gone on strike demanding better compensation.

“We tried talking to the resort owners rationally,” Divemaster’s Local #138 president Finn Kiick said. “They turned a deaf ear. Now we’re playing hardball, shutting down the dive sites. We’re the ones who built up these dive operations and keep them running every day while the owners sip champagne.

“They’re exploiting us, and their greed perpetuates the economic gulf in the island’s society.”

“Exploiting, hell,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “We give these people jobs, pay their wages. They want a scapegoat for their personal failings and lit on us.”

“What proper society isn’t greedy?” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “Greed transformed this island from mass subsistence to mass prosperity. Left to their own devices, these damn scuba hippies wouldn’t know enough to come in out of the rain.”

At the heart of the strike is the divemasters’ pay and benefits.

“We get whacked in the face with peed-in wetsuits,” union president Kiick said. “We get weight belts and scuba tanks dropped on our feet. We laugh at the same stupid jokes week-in and week-out. All without complaint.

“We’re simply asking for a livable wage. And health insurance that includes mental health coverage,” Kiick said. “Mental stability’s a huge issue on this island.”

“They need to stop the drug and alcohol testing, as well,” said union member Lee Helm. “That’s pure systemic repression, that is.”

The strike has left island dive guests furious.

“I save up money all year to come diving, and these yahoos shut down the dive sites?” a Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort guest said. “Hell, I’d do their job for free!”

“We tried letting guests act as divemasters and boat captains,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “We lost a group of eight divers the first morning and had to drag our boat off the reef. We’ve had our guests watching old Sea Hunt episodes in full scuba gear ever since.”

“We’re flying in replacement staff from the big island,” Eagle Ray Cove’s Skerritt said. “For every union-boy, there’s a hundred divemasters begging to take their place. We’ve cut off our dive staff’s bar privileges, too.”

Union organizers have responded by blocking the island’s lone airstrip.

“We have picketers lined up three deep across the runway,” Kiick said. “They can’t bring in scabs if they can’t land an airplane. We have picketers on scuba at all the dive sites, too, in case guests get the notion to shore dive.”

In the interim, resort owners have hired local residents to fill in as dive staff.

“I usually drive the garbage truck,” island resident James Conlee said. “Hauling tourists can’t be that different.”

“I’ll lead dives myself before I knuckle under to these Bolsheviks,” Skerritt said. “They’ll be begging to shovel iguana crap by the time I’m done with them!”

“If guests understood the issues, they’d back us 100 percent,” picketer Helm said. “Plus, if football players making £5 million to work half a year can go on strike, why can’t we?”

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Battle of the Bands Rocks Blacktip Island

Blacktip Island’s Battle of the Bands  will feature the Caribbean island’s top musical acts.

Blacktip Island’s Battle of the Bands will feature the Caribbean island’s top musical acts.

Eagle Ray Cove scuba resort will celebrate the end of summer with Blacktip Island’s 9th annual Battle of the Bands this weekend. The three-day music festival will showcase the island’s top musicians, with the winner earning a contract with Island Records.

“This year’s acts are as diverse as the island’s population,” festival organizer Jay Valve said. “From traditional island country-western to death metal, there’ll be something for everyone.”

The lineup of bands includes:

  • The Social Morays
  • TURTLE!!!
  • Effing Zeagles
  • Ivan the Embolizer
  • Red Über Red
  • Young Jacques and the Double Hose
  • See You Next Tuesday
  • Duck on a Junebug

“We built a stage out over the water,” Eagle Ray Cove manager Mickey Smarr said. “It’ll limit access to the musicians and cut down on folks rushing the stage, like spoiled the last few Battles.

“There’ll be a few drunks who try, sure, but they’ll have to swim. And we’ve been chumming the water to draw in the sharks. It’s way cheaper than hiring security.”

The festival will kick off with local favorite Young Jacques and the Double Hose performing Black Sabbath covers on steel drums.

“You haven’t heard ‘War Pigs’ until you’ve heard it banged on pans,” double-tenor pannist Cori Anders said. “We’re redefining ‘heavy metal’ for a new generation.”

Other bands have taken similarly creative approaches.

“We do lounge-punk,” Effing Zeagle guitarist Casey Piper said. “Think Green Day does Sinatra – ‘I’ve got you under my skin,’ if you take my meaning. And I think you do.”

A newcomer to this year’s competition, Red Über Red will play German techno on dog whistles.

“You can’t really hear anything, but, man damn, does it get people dancing,” said pennywhistler Marina DeLow. “And when we play our recordings underwater for divers, it morphs into ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik.’”

The festival will also feature traditional quadrille dancing and cloggers between musical acts.

“We’ve gone out of our way to make the festival family friendly,” Valve said. “We’re even have non-alcoholic beer for the kids.”

Proceeds from the concert go to the Blacktip Island Institute of Noetic Sciences.

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Cross-Island Canal Sparks War Between Scuba Resorts

A new canal, created to shorten ride time to the Caribbean island’s scuba diving sites, has cut Blacktip Island in two geographically and culturally.

A new canal, created to shorten ride time to the Caribbean island’s scuba diving sites, has cut Blacktip Island in two geographically and culturally.

A cross-island canal dug to facilitate access to Blacktip Island’s eastern dive sites has sparked a conflict between scuba resorts over who has priority at the island’s most popular dive sites.

“It’s always been first come, first serve out there,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “It’s not our fault we’re closer to the sites and have faster boats. Digging this canal, that’s playing dirty pool.”

“We cut the canal to help everyone,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “Sandy and the other yahoos up north are free to use it. When they’re finished sucking on their sour grapes.”

Bottoms and other resort owners from Blacktip’s north refuse to back down.

“Rich wants two islands? Fine,” Club Scuba Doo owner Nelson Pilchard said. “The dive sites north of his canal are technically in our territorial waters. The southerners think they can dive up here, they have another thing coming.”

“Some of the Caribbean’s best wreck dives are off our north coast,” Bottoms said. “Rich brings his divers up here, the island’ll have a few more wrecks to dive.”

The split echoes a deeper divide in the small Caribbean island community.

“It’s a Pond versus Bluff thing that’s been simmering for generations,” Bottoms said. “The southerners sit up there in the breeze, looking down at us like they’re something special.”

“We have better sense than to live by those stinky bird ponds,” Skerritt said. “We give our dive guests gas masks for the boat ride when the east wind’s blowing. This canal lets us bypass the stench altogether.”

An island council meeting has been scheduled to settle the issue. However, neither side can agree on where to meet.

“I’m not setting foot up there,” Skerritt said. “It smells like bird poop. I might catch something.”

“Crossing to their so-called island acknowledges its right to exist,” Bottoms said. “We go down there, we’ll probably end up as hostages.”

Island authorities are taking steps to bridge the divide.

“We have the police launch standing by so all parties can confer mid-canal,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If neither side’s amenable to that, we’ll have them stand on either side of the canal and yell back and forth at each other.”

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Blacktip’s Dirt Roads To Be Striped For Safety

Public Works crews have begun painting lane lines on both Blacktip Island’s unpaved roads.

Public Works crews have begun painting lane lines on both the Caribbean island’s unpaved roads.

In a controversial move that has angered many island residents, the Tiperon Islands Public Works Department has begun painting center lines on both the Caribbean island’s roads.

“This is a matter of public safety,” Public Works director Dusty Rhodes said. “We have what, maybe 24 miles of road on Blacktip? Just because they’re not paved doesn’t mean they don’t need stripes.”

Island residents disagreed.

“It’s a waste of time and money,” long-time resident Payne Hanover said. “There’s, what, a dozen cars on the island? They’ve managed to dodge each other so far without center stripes.

“And these are dirt roads. Drive over the paint a couple times, they’ll be gone. Hell, a good, heavy rain’ll wash them away. What happens to public safety then?”

Local authorities could not immediately verify the hazard posed by the island’s current, stripeless roads.

“Vehicles do cross the center of the road all the time,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Don’t know that causes many accidents, though. Unless they cross the road and keep going.

“Most auto accidents on Blacktip are single-vehicle affairs, with the vehicles ending up in the sea grapes or the booby ponds.”

Despite the controversy, some locals support the plan.

“Not striping these roadways resigns our island to Third-World status,” said Stoney MacAdam, owner of MacAdam Paving. “Blacktip Island’s as much a part of the 21st Century as any place else. Do the roads have center lines in your country? Then why shouldn’t the roads here have center lines?”

“It’s Colonialism, pure and simple,” Public Works’ Rhodes said. “Expats move here and want to keep this island a backwater. Well too bad. This striping project’s already creating local jobs. Will the rain wash the stripes away? Sure. And when it does, we have the workforce in place to repaint them. No one complains about us replacing downed power lines after a hurricane do they?”

Other residents voiced concern about the impact the project will have on the island’s fragile environment.

“That paint’s highly toxic. And this is the rainy season,” said Blacktip Audubon Society president Nelson Seagroves. “That means potentially repainting the roads every day. That’s a boatload of paint killing our reefs and marine parks. Killing our birds. Contaminating our water supply.”

“A project this size, you have to expect a few loses,” Rhodes countered. “These folks are a bunch of nervous Nellies who don’t know what’s good for them. They’ll thank us soon enough.”

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Locals To Shelter-On-Scuba For Meteor Shower

A university scientist warns this year’s Perseid meteor shower will rain destruction on Blacktip Island.

A university scientist warns this year’s Perseid meteor shower could turn Blacktip Island into a cratered wasteland.

Blacktip Island residents are urged to seek shelter during the height of this week’s Perseid meteor shower, predicted to strike the Caribbean island from 11:17 pm – 2:43 am the night of August 11-12.

“Blacktip will be at the absolute bull’s eye for this year’s Perseid event,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip professor Ernesto Mojarra. “We’ll experience one of the most projectile-intense passes in recent history.

“By Tuesday morning this place could look like a World War I battlefield.”

Many locals plan to shelter in place underwater on the island’s coral reefs for the shower’s most intense period.

“That hurricane shelter smells of feet, and the tin roof barely stops rain,” island resident Lee Helm said. “No way it’ll stand up to meteors. Me? I’m riding it out on scuba.”

“Your average meteor is only deadly to about 18-20 feet in seawater,” TU-B’s Mojarra said. “After that it’s just a cold rock dropping a few feet per second.

“We’re telling folks the best depth for survival is in the 20-30 foot range. That gives the ideal balance between safety from meteors and prolonging one’s air supply.”

“All our rental gear’s spoken for,” Eagle Ray Divers’ owner Rich Skerritt said. “Regulators, tanks, everything. Some folks are reserving two, three cylinders just to be safe.

“We’ll have dive boats available, too, to take folks to the deeper reefs. For an additional fee, of course. Pricey? Sure. But, hey, what’s your life worth?”

Other resort operators are skeptical.

“We’ve set up chairs on our beach so people can watch, and will have complimentary Kevlar umbrellas, but that’s about it,” Club Scuba Doo manager Polly Parrett said. “The way some people are reacting, you’d think the sky was falling. And I suppose it is. But not in a bad way.

“Is it coincidence Ernie’s got a ton of money invested in Eagle Ray Divers? I think not.”

“The Chicken Little story has its basis in fact,” Mojarra said. “This sort of catastrophe’s happened before. And’ll happen again. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand.”

Eagle Ray Divers will offer NAUI, PADI and SSI Meteor Diver distinctive specialty courses for those who shelter on the reefs.

“This is a unique opportunity, despite the danger,” Eagle Ray Divers’ Skerritt said. “Folks are crazy if they don’t take advantage of it. This is a cert card none of their friends’ll have.”

“How often do you get to say, ‘meteors rained down on me and I survived’?” Mojarra said. “And with luck, divers will find spent meteorites on the reef to keep as souvenirs. That’s priceless.”

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Anger Management Retreat Angers Locals

Anger management sessions at Blacktip Haven and on Blacktip Island’s reefs have created friction on the Caribbean island.

Anger management sessions at Blacktip Haven and on Blacktip Island’s reefs have sparked friction on the Caribbean island.

Blacktip Haven resort’s annual anger management retreat has island residents up in arms following repeated run-ins between participants and scuba diving guests from Blacktip Island’s other resorts.

Local business owners have demanded the resort cease the week-long program.

“The Haven’s up on the Bluff, within easy earshot of half the island,” said Rich Skerritt, owner of Eagle Ray Cove resort. “There’s no way to get away from the noise. Sound carries in tropical air.

“The primal screaming at all hours of the night, it keeps guests and staff alike awake. I know these retreats are all the rage, but this one’s killing our business.”

Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens was quick to defend the program.

“What we do at The Haven’s no one’s business. I’m filling my resort during the slow season, covering my expenses. If Rich’s place’s half-empty, that’s his problem.”

Other locals disagreed.

“All that hollering, we thought the mersquatch was back on the prowl,” resident Molly Miller said. “To find out it’s just tourists, honestly, that pisses me off.”

“We advertise our resort as a peaceful getaway,” Club Scuba Doo manager Polly Parrett said. “When Elena brings these people in, it destroys that. They set the birds off. Get the iguanas stampeding.”

Island police records show an uptick in violence during the weeks Blacktip Haven has conducted the retreats.

“You bring that many angry people together on one small island, it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette. “One person’s anger sets off another, and the next thing you know it’s snowballed into a bar fight or road rage.”

Attempts to conduct sessions underwater have resulted in confrontations as well.

“I’m swimming along with a stingray when this jackass starts whacking me with a stick,” said a Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort dive guest who asked to remain anonymous. “Then his buddies joined in. Only thing kept them from killing me was my pulling a knife on them.”

“There was an isolated incident where a diver stumbled into an underwater drum circle,” Elena Havens said. “It was unfortunate, but in no way indicative of these retreats.”

“These workshops do a lot of good,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, the workshop’s facilitator. “I’m a recovering anger-holic myself. It’s easy to think of Blacktip as a tropical paradise, but there’s a lot of pent-up anger here.

“The naysayers need to have some sense beat into them,” Ephesians said. “When you point a finger at someone, you have three more fingers pointing back at yourself.”

A town hall meeting to discuss the fate of future anger retreats was aborted when a fight broke out in Eagle Ray Cove’s conference room. The meeting had not been rescheduled at press time.

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