BI-Leaks Turns Friend Against Friend On Blacktip Island

BI Wikileaks

The release Wednesday of the previously-private online communications of Blacktip Island residents has outraged many islanders and destroyed friendships. (photo illustration courtesy of DARPA)

The unexpected release of all Blacktip Island residents’ private online communications Wednesday by an anonymous hacker has angered locals and sent many searching for who posted the information on the Caribbean island’s tourism website.

“Normally you get your island gossip at the Ballyhoo or the Sand Spit, and it’s in bits and pieces,” Val Schrader said. “This is one big info dump, with everyone’s emails, texts, Skype, WhatsApp, you name it, BAM, out there for God and everyone to see.

“These BI-Leaks are devastating,” Schrader said. “The only reason people here get along is we make nice and lie a fair bit. Now, people are ready to tar and feather their friends. And everyone wants to punch Lee Helm, the little two-faced rat Lee Helm.”

Many locals voiced broader concerns about public safety.

“Whenever people try to sort things out, a fight breaks out,” Jessie Catahoula said. “And it’s escalating. Antonio Fletcher got arrested for peeing in the Eagle Ray Cove cistern because Rich Skerritt for called him a nut case.

“There’s talk about burning cars and houses, of people disappearing, you name it,” Catahoula said. “Folks’re making homemade riot gear. The mayor even called in the National Guard to maintain order, but it turns out there isn’t one. It’s gonna get uglier.”

The crisis has stretched the island’s lone constable to the limit.

“This is day three with no sleep, trying to keep a lid on things,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I called over to Tiperon for backup, but nobody over there wants to wade into this crap.”

Many in the community are speculating on the hacker’s identity and motives.

“There’s not many people on Blacktip capable of pulling something like this off, island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Hell, most people on this island can barely turn on a computer, much less hack one.

“My money’s on it being somebody off-island who wants to cause us trouble,” Cobia said. “It’s probably some Tourism Department a-hole on Tiperon trying to siphon our guests over to the big island.”

Others are convinced the dump was an inadvertent technological malfunction.

“Dermott Bottoms and James Conclee were three-sheets drunk Tuesday night, climbing the cell tower on a dare,” Frank Maples said. “My guess is one of them bumped something and scrambled the wireless and cell signals.

“Neither remember anything that happened,” Maples said. “That’s their story, anyway. A couple of drunk idiots makes way more sense than some double-secret hacker.”

A few locals worry the damage from the leaks may be permanent.

“Some folks are betting on this all dying down, like with other gossip,” Clete Horn said. “The way things are now, though, if we let this play itself out, there might not be an island left.”

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Blacktip Islanders Face Off For Boobies-Vs-Frigate Melee

boobies and frigates

Frigates and red-footed boobies share a stand of mangroves on Blacktip Island Thursday afternoon. This weekend’s Boobies Vs. Frigates competition will feature island residents recreating the two species’ aerial battles for food. (photo courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr)

Blacktip Island residents will draw straws today to determine their roles in Saturday’s annual Boobies Vs. Frigates competition celebrating the height of hurricane season.

“It was a storm-relief debacle that morphed into a community-wide event several years back,” organizer Wendy Beaufort said. “The contest mimics the in-air fights between the booby birds and the frigate birds. The Booby team has to get supplies from Diddley’s Landing to the air strip. The Frigates try to stop them any way they can and steal their goods.

“It teaches teamwork and working together during the hard times post-hurricane,” Beaufort said. “After a storm, you’re never sure who’ll be on your side or who you’ll need help from. The teams are totally random each year, so you see friend against friend, family against family. It’s like a full-contact holiday dinner.”

Residents say the competition eases the tensions of hurricane season.

“Watching the satellite weather, prepping the house, dreading that next big storm, it takes its toll on your nerves,” Jerrod Ephesians said. “Whacking a Booby trying to get past you and stealing his back pack, it’s a great stress reliever.

“Everyone joins in, unless they’re totally physically unable,” Ephesians said. “You should’ve seen Helen Maples last year, smacking Frigates with her cane and kicking them with that ankle boot, broken foot be damned.”

The event has few, but strict, rules to ensure contestants accurately mimic the battling seabirds they represent.

“Boobies have one arm tied behind them so they’re at a disadvantage, like in real life,” event co-chair Christina Mojarra said. “Frigates, they can do anything they want, and it’s usually mean and nasty.

“There’s all sorts of strategies,” Mojarra said. “Usually, the Boobies cluster up in one big wedge and try to bull their way through. Others’ll try an end-run, solo, while that’s happening. It’s a free for all, really. The nurse gets paid double-time for the next few days.”

The contest ends when all the supplies have been either transported to the airfield or seized by the Frigates.

“As soon as that last bag’s secured, the party starts,” Beaufort said. “As ever, Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resorts hosts, what with it being right there, but the party always spills over all up and down the coast.

“A lot of people stay in character all night,” Beaufort said. “You’ll see Frigates at the bar trying to steal money from Boobies, and Boobies squawking about spilled beer and running down the road trying to get a moment to take a drink.

“Sure, some Boobies overindulge and end up barfing in the bushes, but that just adds to the realism,” Beaufort said.

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New Scuba Periscopes Will Save Blacktip Island Divers’ Egos

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A new Wood Eye scuba periscope takes shape at Bamboo You’s Blacktip Island workshop Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of Doc Plank / Bamboo You)

A Blacktip Island entrepreneur has created a new collapsible viewing tube that allows lost scuba divers to locate their dive boat without having to surface, local scuba retailer Bamboo You announced Thursday.

“Divers get lost all the time. They’re embarrassed to surface and find the boat,” inventor and Bamboo You owner Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said. “Everybody sees you, everybody knows you got lost and everybody takes the piss out of you. Our new Wood Eye lets you avoid all that.

“It’s a pocket-sized periscope that zips out to five feet when deployed,” Plank said. “Slip it in your BC pocket and no one knows it’s there. When you get lost, the Wood Eye lets you stay out of sight while you take a look around.”

Scuba guests who tested early models were impressed.

“I get lost a lot, and my wife always makes me prairie-dog up to find the boat,” Blacktip Haven dive guest Buddy Brunnez said. “Man, the grief I get. With the Wood-Eye, though, I can stay underwater, spot the boat and no one’s the wiser. This gizmo’s changed my life.”

Island dive staff liked the device as well.

“It looks like some random piece of bamboo poking up out of the water, if you even notice it,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “Our bottom line is if it gets divers back to the boat without us having to search for them or rescue them, we’re all for it.

“And, to be honest, several of our navigationally-challenged dive staff are using Wood Eyes,” DeLow said. “Most guests don’t even notice. Except when Lee Helm’s leading the dive. That idiot’s about as subtle as a punch in the face.”

Island leaders were dubious, but supportive.

“I really don’t see the point, but that describes most scuba gadgets I see,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “If Doc can get people to give him money for the things, though, good on him.

“Commercially, it’s a win for Blacktip,” Cobia said. “It expands our manufacturing sector, creates jobs and God knows it keeps the beaches clear of bamboo.”

Plank said Wood Eye embraces the company’s all-natural philosophy.

“Along with our bamboo triple-split Diablo fins and our bamboo nitrox snorkels, Wood Eye’s 100 percent green and eco-friendly,” he said. “They come in all kinds of colors so you can coordinate with your scuba gear. They’re available in natural bamboo, as well, for the purists out there.”

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Blacktip Island Braces For End-Of-Season Celebrations

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The Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort pool deck was the site of an impromptu chicken rodeo on scooters during last year’s shut-down celebrations on Blacktip Island. (file photo by Wendy Beaufort)

Blacktip Island officials are bracing for the annual end-of-tourist-season chaos this weekend when all island resorts close Saturday afternoon for the height of hurricane season.

“It happens every year at shut-down,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “People’re worked out and stressed out and ready to blow off some steam. The tension’s been building these last few weeks.

“There’s no telling what’ll happen. Fights, pranks, property damage, you never know,” Cobia said. “We urge folks to take it easy, but some don’t listen. Last year Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee about destroyed the Eagle Ray Cove bar bo-staff fighting with kayak paddles.”

The island’s police officer has been busy preparing.

“I cleared the stored junk out of the jail cell, so it’s ready for occupants,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Just got it repaired after last year’s arrestees tore it down. We reinforced the walls and doors this time.

“Most people celebrate in moderation, but there’s consequences for taking things too far,” Marquette said. “People herd chickens around the Sandy Bottoms pool deck on scooters again, they’ll definitely see the inside of the cell.”

Most locals are taking the impending chaos in stride.

“I make sure all my stuff’s either inside or locked down, then pull up a chair to watch,” Val Schrader said. “Jack Cobia urging moderation is a hoot. He’s the one who knocked out cell service last year bungee jumping off the cell tower.

“And they’re still trying to figure out who ran the two dive boats up the beach,” Schrader said. “That far up in the Scuba Doo hammocks, they had to have been doing 18, 20 knots when they hit the sand.”

One local is continuing his traditional end-of-season beach party to keep the misbehavior self-contained.

“I have a pig roasting and booze on ice at my place,” Payne Hanover said. “As soon as that last plane with the last tourist leaves, the lids come off. Everyone’s invited. It’ll go all night. Maybe into the next night.

“And anyone gets in a condition they can’t drive, or walk, there’s plenty of beds and lounge chairs,” Hanover said. “Anyone who looks like they might get sick, there’s spots on the beach.”

Others are taking a more preemptive approach.

“I restocked the entire first-aid and medical supply section,” store manager Peachy Bottoms said. “I learned my lesson last year.

“I also brought in a double order of pregnancy tests,” Bottoms said. “We’re not having a replay of that fiasco.”

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Pedestrian Bridge To Protect Blacktip Island Drunks

drunk overpass

One of multiple chutes erected outside Blacktip Island’s Sand Spit bar to funnel drunken bar patrons onto a pedestrian overpass over the island’s road. (photo courtesy of Dash Goby)

A Blacktip Island bar owner, concerned about a spate of near-accidents outside the Sand Spit bar, this week installed a pedestrians-only overpass to get drunk patrons to their vehicles safely.

“Customers were getting clipped crossing the road, walking into passing cars, you name it,” Sand Spit owner Dash Goby said. “Our customers get run over, we’ll be out of business in no time. I had to do something.

“The answer was a footbridge over the road, like those wildlife crossing over highways,” Goby said. “A bunch of waist-high walls funnel people from the bar doors out to the bridge, then over to the car park. We tried a tunnel a few years back, but people kept going in there and passing out. And peeing. And barfing. It made things worse, really.”

Sand Spit patrons applauded the move.

“You don’t even notice you’re using it,” James Conlee said. “It slopes up, then back down so gentle you don’t know if it’s a bridge or what you’ve been drinking.

“Got eight-foot-high walls up top, so you can’t fall off, and they’re slick, so they don’t scuff you up so bad,” Conlee said. “And there’s lights every 20 feet so you don’t get lost. Stagger out the bar, and next thing you know, you’re at your car.”

The overpass has alarmed others in the community.

“How about not letting drunks drive?” Lucille Ray said. “Maybe take their car keys, or, I don’t know, don’t over serve them. It’s already not safe to be on the road after dark, and here’s Dash making matters worse.”

Goby was quick to defend the overpass.

“I’m keeping people alive and safe, period,” he said. “What they do across the road is their business. Hell, most of them pass out in their cars anyway.

“And on Blacktip everyone leaves their keys in the ignition,” Goby said. “People on this island drink. A lot. I can’t change that. I’m just helping them do it safely.”

The island’s police had mixed feelings about the overpass.

“It’s not adding to the drunk driving problem. These people are going to do that anyway, bridge or no,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If it keeps drunks from being hit by cars, that’s a good thing.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Marquette said. “This is a ‘when a donkey flies, you don’t fault it for not staying up too long’ situation. And I’m working with Dash on building similar chutes to funnel drunk drivers to the police station. Or at least away from the booby pond. There’s been way too many one-car accidents lately.”

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Blacktip Island Lighthouse Vandalized To Shine Bat Signal

lighthouse bat_signal

Blacktip Island’s northern lighthouse shines a Batman logo into an overcast sky Thursday evening. The navigational beacon was vandalized earlier in the week to display the signal. (photo courtesy of Simon Scarfe)

Vandals Monday modified Blacktip Island’s northern lighthouse to display the Batman-related Bat Signal, island authorities said.

“Someone got in the housing and blacked in a Batman logo on the lens,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “We blamed it on kids, but really, it could have been anyone. It was funny at first, but it’s caused some unforeseen safety issues.

“Passing ships are saying it’s confusing,” Marquette said. “Last night an oil tanker damn-near ran aground. Of course, the captain claimed he was Batman, and was wearing nothing but a black hood and cape, so there were extenuating circumstances.”

Community leaders have opted not to repair the light immediately.

“Our guests love it,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “They bike up to the north point before dinner just to see it. It’s the latest stop on the island tour.

“It’s drawing tourists up where most visitors don’t go, and word’s spreading quick,” Skerritt said. “We’re seeing an uptick in resort bookings the last few days.”

The vandalism has also boosted the island’s dive industry.

“Near as we can tell, the signal’s attracting batfish,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “They’re super rare, but the north-end reefs are lousy with them this week. We’re hauling divers up there morning, afternoon and night.”

The financial boom has some residents suspicious.

“The Tail Spinner bar up on the point is doing a bang-up business since that so-called prank,” Sally Port said. “I wouldn’t put it past old Harry Wrasse to have done it himself, just to sell more drinks.

“The Skerritts and Bottomses aren’t above pulling a stunt like that, either, to fill their resorts,” Port said. “Of course, it could’ve been Jerrod Ephesians, for a lark. He’s just crazy enough. And he has that tweak-your-nose artsy side to him.”

Others say the attention has ruined Blacktip’s small-island charm.

“The crowds have killed the Spinner’s laid-back vibe,” Gage Hoase said. “It used to be a great place to chill and watch the sunset. Now, it’s packed with 15, 20 tourists at a time. The Spinner, the island can’t handle that kind of crowd.”

Island officials say the light will be repaired by the end of the weekend.

“Batman’s a DC Comics character, and we have a sponsorship contract with Marvel Comics,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It’s been fun and games, but now there’s a bunch attorneys involved, and charging by the hour. If the pranksters wanted to bring money to the island, they picked the wrong way to do it.”

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Two-Bike Collision Sends Two To Blacktip Island Clinic

two-bike collision

Lee Helm’s bicycle rests in Blacktip Island’s booby pond after a late-night, head-on collision with cyclist Rusty Goby Wednesday. Both men have been charged with biking while intoxicated. (photo courtesy of gillfoto)

A nighttime, head-on collision between two bicyclists Wednesday night sent two Blacktip Island residents to the island’s medical clinic, filling the facility to capacity.

“Near as I can tell, Rusty Goby was racing north from the Sand Spit, and Lee Helm was headed south from the Tail Spinner,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Neither had any kind of headlamp or flashlight or signaling device, and BAM!

“They smashed into each other on that dark stretch north of Sandy Bottoms where there’s no street lights,” Marquette said. “Rusty was in a hurry to meet friends. Lee was rushing to get to karaoke. God only knows why. They hit so hard one bike flew into the booby pond.”

Medical authorities said both men were knocked unconscious, but escaped more serious injuries.

“They’ve both got some nasty road rash, and are nursing major headaches, but that’s it,” island nurse Marisa Pompano said. “They got lucky. They were both so rat-faced drunk their bones were all rubbery.

“I’m keeping them in the clinic for observation, and poking them every few minutes to make sure they don’t drift off to sleep while they’re concussed,” Pompano said. “We’re lucky no one else was hurt. I’m out of beds. We usually only get single-vehicle accident on Blacktip.”

The men were saved by a passing motorist.

“Antonio Fletcher was driving by, and thankfully he was sober enough to see them in the road in time to stop,” Pompano added. “The accident could have been way messier than it was.

Authorities say both cyclists will be charged with drunken biking, and bicycle safety ordinances will be more strictly enforced.

“A quick look-and-smell told me they had both been biking while intoxicated, so they’ll be charged with BWI,” Marquette said. “There’s been too much of this sort of thing lately. We’ll send a strong message that it won’t be tolerated.

“The bicycle headlamp ordinances on the books’ll be strictly enforced going forward,” Marquette said. “Headlamps and rear reflectors are required, and I’ll be doing regular inspections after hours and at bars.

Both bikes were totaled in the collision.

“I hauled both bikes to the dump so people can strip them for parts,” resident Clete Horn said. “One of the baskets was totally accordioned, but the other one’s salvageable. Both front rims are shot, though.”

Some in the community urged more streetlights for safety, but local officials shot that down.

“There’s no funds for more streetlights,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We have lights in the crowded areas, where they’re most needed, and that’s it.

“People on this island need to start taking responsibility for their own actions,” Cobia said. “We start putting lights on every power pole, people with think they’re in New York City.”

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