Divemaster Reality Show To Film On Blacktip Island

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Club Scuba Doo will be the focal point of the upcoming reality television series ‘Real Divemasters of Blacktip Island, which began filming on the small Caribbean island this week. (photo courtesy of André Héroux)

A new scuba-themed reality television show about the daily lives of Caribbean dive staff on Blacktip Island began filming this week, show producers said.

“We were looking for the bat-shit-craziest island in the Caribbean, and Blacktip blew the metrics off the chart,” Leah Shore said. “It’s like this island has a crazy magnet buried somewhere. Professional actors couldn’t have done better.

“We’re calling it ‘Real Divemasters of Blacktip Island,’ and it’ll show on what goes on at a scuba resort when the guests aren’t around,” Shore said. “Or when the staff thinks they’re not around. There’s a huge untapped TV market of scuba geeks who can’t get enough scuba talk and who love drama.”

The show will focus on dive staff at one of the island’s four dive resorts.

“They liked the look of Eagle Ray Cove, but the staff there’s actually pretty decent to each other,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It needed the nastiest staff possible to showcase all the behind the scenes griping, backstabbing and sandbagging that goes on after the guests go to their rooms.

“They picked Club Scuba Doo instead,” Cobia said. “We had no idea, but the staff there’re truly vicious to each other. They’re over-the-top passive-aggressive about their divers, too, when guests turn their backs. The first dailies had jaws dropping. It’s great TV.”

Club Scuba Doo dive staff are enjoying the spotlight.

“They’ve got hidden cameras, body cams, Speedo cams, you name it,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “We had no idea people’d want to watch this stuff. For us it’s just business as usual, only now we’re gonna be semi-famous for it.

“You work at CSD, you’re in the arena. If it’s your day off, the knives come out,” Kiick said. “But then it’s you doing the stabbing when someone else isn’t there. Yeah, we may hack off some customers, but for every guest we scare off, we’ll gain three more.”

Some on the island worry the show will send the wrong message.

“Our business is hospitality, and here’s a program showing staff being as inhospitable as they can be,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort general manager Kay Valve said. “It paints a totally unrealistic picture of life in the scuba industry. Snarky divemasters playing it up for the camera will do more harm than good.”

Kiick was quick to belay those concerns.

“If it jams the boats, where’s the down side?” he said. “Sure, the tank-filling scene was harsh, but it’s all for show. Kay’s just chapped they didn’t choose her resort.

“People’ll come here just to meet the jerks they saw on TV,” he said. “We’re celebrities. As long as they pronounce my name right and tip well, I’m good.”

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Proposed Underwater Bar Draws Blacktip Residents’ Ire

underwater bar

Resort owner Sandy Bottoms’ plans for a mobile underwater bar off Blacktip Island’s west coast met opposition from many Blacktip Island residents concerned about the project’s safety and environmental impact. (photo by Charlie Noble/BTT staff)

A Blacktip Island entrepreneur’s plans for an underwater drinking establishment hit an unexpected snag Wednesday when island residents protested the proposed bar.

“The bar scene’s damned competitive on this island, and we’re trying to get ahead of the curve,” Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “It’ll be the only place in the Caribbean you can dive down, sit in a Plexiglas dome and have a drink. It’ll have little electric servo motors, too, so it can cruise around the reef.

“For safety, we’ll only serve freedivers, not anyone on scuba,” Bottoms said. “And it’ll only be in about six, eight feet of water, so decompression sickness won’t be a factor. It’s only a prototype so far, but we’ve been encouraged. I don’t know what all the fuss’s about.”

Many opponents say those precautions don’t go far enough.

“Sandy’s talking about serving people alcohol at depth, then having them leave the bar underwater and swim back to the surface inebriated,” Sally Port said. “One inhalation, or hiccup, at the wrong time, a bar patron drowns.

“And if you stay down there for multiple drinks, maybe make an afternoon of it, DCS will definitely come into play. People’ll get hurt,” Port said. “He’s chasing a dollar today that’ll cost him multiple dollars tomorrow. That’s a black eye for Blacktip.”

Others questioned the structure itself.

“There’s no way they can build a plastic bar sturdy enough to withstand pressure at depth and a bunch of drunks banging around in it,” Harry Blenny said. “Dermott spends one evening there and the place’ll be demolished.

“Sandy got the idea from him and his buddies taking beers down in wreck wreck and drinking them in an air pocket,” Blenny said said. “There’s a world of difference between a steel hull and a plastic bubble. And how much coral will it destroy into while it’s scooting around the reefs?”

Not all residents opposed the concept.

“It would be lovely to slip down, have a glass of wine and watch the fish go by,” Paloma Fairlead said. “And sunsets would be incredible. You’d just have to drink responsibly.

“And Sandy, or someone, would have no problem coming up with a shuttle of some sort to get people down and back without the danger of drowning,” Fairlead said. “I’ve seen that sort of thing in movies.”

Others said they would avoid the bar.

“Don’t have to worry about me trashing it because there’s no way I’ll go down there,” Dermott Bottoms said. “I’ll go on the sea to fish, but won’t go in it, much less under it. There’s sharks and such. And plenty of rum right here where it’s dry.”

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Charity Pumpkin Carvers Destroy Blacktip Island’s Heritage House

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A screen grab from a pumpkin carver’s phone shows the mayhem at Thursday’s charity pumpkin carving contest that severely damaged the Caribbean island’s Heritage House. (photo courtesy of Ginger Bass)

A Thursday afternoon jack-o-lantern carving contest to raise money for a local charity devolved into a brawl that seriously damaged Blacktip Island’s Heritage House community center, organizers said.

“It was supposed to be a low-key event to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity,” Heritage House director Doris Blenny said. “We shipped in all kinds of pumpkins, provided the necessary carving tools, set out snacks and lemonade and were set for some relaxing Halloween fun.

“Problem was the chocolates,” Blenny said. “Somebody put out booze-filled ones inadvertently and none of the carvers said anything. We knew the chocolates were popular, but didn’t realize something was wrong until it was too late.”

Attendees described a chaotic scene.

“It started off with giggling and shooting pumpkin seeds at each other,” carver Val Schrader said. “It escalated pretty quick to chucking pumpkin guts across the room.

“Things got ugly when Lee Helm put a big jack-o-lantern around Gage Hoase’s head,” Schrader said. “Gage took a swing at Lee, missed, and the carved pumpkin fell on Marina DeLow. From there it was an all-out pumpkin fight. There were pumpkins going through windows, knocking holes in drywall and whacking blades off ceiling fans.”

Organizers say the building might have survived if not for a second wave of violence.

“Some carvers came dressed in costume, it being for Halloween and all,” carver Ginger Bass said. “Jerrod Ephesians was dressed as an angel, and he must’ve gotten into the tequila-filled candy, because the next thing we knew he was shouting he was the Archangel Gabriel.

“He was hollering about ‘smiting’ people, and swinging a big push broom like it was a pole ax,” Bass said. “People were scrambling for the doors and diving out windows. Then he hit Dermott Bottoms, Dermott tackled him and that’s when the structural damage occurred. Rafe Marquette had to take them both down with tranq darts.”

Construction experts say the building is not repairable.

“Dermott’s a big guy. And Jerrod’s crazy-strong when he goes into smiting mode,” Stoney MacAdam said. “They broke half the wall studs and a dozen roof beams. A corner of the roof’s missing, too.

“We can strip it down to the foundation and build new for less than the repairs’d cost,” MacAdam said. “It’s a shame to lose the historic building, but it’s also a blessing in disguise. The place was full of termites, and the electric work’s always been dodgy.”

Habitat for Humanity officials say they will host a Christmas charity event far from any structures to raise funds for a new Heritage House.

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Mayor Launches Blacktip Island Motto Contest

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Blacktip Island leaders hope an island slogan contest, open to all, will give the Caribbena island a competitive advantage in the growing tourism wars. (photo courtesy of Wendy Beaufort/BT staff)

Blacktip Island leaders Friday announced a contest to create a motto for the small Caribbean island to use in promotions in order to stand out among other vacation destinations in the region.

“With so many islands, we get lost in the shuffle,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Our resorts have seen a drop in occupancy across the board. Most people get to Tiperon and stop. We’ve got a whizz-bang marketing plan to address that, but it all hinges on a catchy slogan.

“The Bahamas have ‘Life Is Grand.’ Saint Lucia has ‘Simply Beautiful.’ Greater Tiperon has, “Surface With A Smile.’ They’re all eating our lunch, tourism-wise,” Cobia said. “We made a suggestion box for anyone on the island, local or visitor, and as soon as we get enough entries, we’ll pick the best ones and have an island-wide vote.”

Organizers say the contest is off to a spirited start.

“We’ve had more suggestions than expected, and you can tell people are taking the contest to heart, no matter how misguided,” contest chair Kay Valve said. “We’re anticipating more, and more appropriate suggestions this week.

“We’re keeping the process as democratic as possible, within reason,” Valve said. “We’ll disqualify anyone stuffing the box, and anything too malapropos, but at this point we’re letting the public have its say.”

Valve said the leading entries so far are:

  • I’ve Been Drinking and Probably Shouldn’t Say This, But . . .
  • Two Roads To Nowhere
  • Well, I Heard
  • Discover Our Blacktip
  • If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
  • Welcome to Blacktip. Leave Your Money and Go Home

Some in the community say the contest is misguided.

“We’re a small island with incredibly limited resources,” environmental advocate Harry Pickett said. “The dump’s overflowing. Resort septic fields are killing the reefs. Blacktip needs to go backward, un-develop, if you will. More tourists mean more infrastructure, more waste, more dying coral.

“Popularizing the island will be the worst disaster since building that electrical power plant,” Pickett said. “We need to be tearing down resorts and sending people away, not encouraging more. The next thing you know, we’ll have paved roads and we’ll have lost our charm.”

Contest backers disagreed.

“Progress doesn’t have reverse gears,” Cobia said. “We’re looking to the future. We can’t afford to fall further behind those Tiperon rat bastards on this one.”

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Illegal Iguana Cullers Injure Dozens On Blacktip Island

iguana culling

An invasive green iguana lurks in the underbrush at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort Thursday. Over-aggressive culling of the non-native species has created a public safety crisis on Blacktip Island. (photo courtesy of Christian Linder)

A rash of mishaps involving over-zealous green-iguana cullers this week has created a groundswell public backlash against unlicensed cullers on Blacktip Island.

“The green iguanas don’t belong here and need to be checked, but things’ve gotten out of hand,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “Every yahoo and his cousin’s running around with slingshots, golf clubs, cricket bats, lionfish spears, you name it.

“Thank God guns are illegal. And bows and arrows,” Skerritt said. “James Conlee took out a whole row of bar stools—guests still on them—with a croquet mallet at the tiki hut yesterday. Sent five people to the clinic.”

Authorities blamed the rogue hunters on the bounty placed on iguanas.

“It’s only supposed to be a handful of licensed cullers, but with the government paying $5 a lizard, everyone wants in on the fun and profit,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Folks’re throwing common sense out the window trying to kill as many iguanas as they can. And most aren’t trained to cull safely.

“We tried only paying licensed cullers, but they just brought in iguanas their unlicensed buddies killed and split the take with them,” Marquette said. “I’m arresting illegal cullers. And drunk cullers, legal or otherwise. But I only have the one jail cell. To them it’s a laugh. To the rest of us it’s a public safety nightmare.”

Many island residents support the crackdown.

“It’s scary going outside these days, not knowing if you’ll be caught in a culling melee,” Peachy Bottoms said. “Nighttime’s the worst. You don’t dare wander out with all the spears and bats and sand rakes flying. People are whacking first and checking their target afterwards. Our little Shelley caught a stray lionfish spear in the buttocks Wednesday.”

Island nurse Marissa Graysby voiced safety concerns as well.

“The clinic’s in shambles,” she said. “There’s only one of me, and I’m out of medical supplies. We’re not equipped for a dozen injuries a day. Sure, the iguanas are bad, but all these people with cuts and bruises and cracked skulls are worse. It doesn’t help that most of the cullers are three-sheets-to-the-wind drunk, either.”

Many cullers defended their actions.

“Doing a service to the island’s what we’re doing,” longtime resident Dermott Bottoms said. “Jack Cobia and them said green iguanas were bad, so we’re taking care of them, on our own time and at our own expense. We sit in some stupid class, that’s time we could be killing iguanas.

“And alcohol’s a help, not a hindrance,” Bottoms said. “Couple glasses of rum, I start to think like an iguana. That’s where the magic happens. And that third glass, well, that just sharpens my aim.”

Marquette, meanwhile, is focusing his crackdown in the island’s more populated areas.

“I’m concentrating on the resort strip where most of the injuries are occurring,” he said. “Away from the resorts, it’s pretty much a free-for-all, but it’s mostly culler-on-culler injuries. If I can keep the tourists safe, I’ll call it a victory.”

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Blacktip Island Scuba Retailer Launches Steampunk Gear Line

Steampunk scuba

A gear-driven dive computer is one of many steampunk-themed scuba accessories released by local retailer Bamboo You this week in response to a growing demand for high-end steampunk gear among scuba diving visitors. (photo courtesy of Abraham Parseghian)

Blacktip Island scuba equipment manufacturer Bamboo You released a new line of steampunk-themed scuba accessories this week to capitalize on the growing popularity of the science fiction genre-inspired fashion among scuba divers.

“The whole alternative history with steam engines and metal gears is a natural for diving,” Bamboo You owner Piers “Doc” Planck said. “Divers are showing up with homemade cosplay-looking get ups, but none of it’s very polished. This’s an untapped market, and we’re going after like a duck on a June bug.

“Anyone can strap on an underwater top hat, or trick out their mask to look like a dirigible captain’s brass goggles, but we’re making high-end accouterments that capture an authentic steampunk aesthetic,” Planck said. “We’ll kit you out like you’re an underwater Jules Verne or Sherlock Holmes. Without the cocaine, of course.”

Steampunk aficionados are eager to use the equipment.

“You can make your own faux-riveted wetsuits and pith helmet dive beanies, but this stuff goes way beyond that,” Kenny Chromis said. “Leather fins with brass buckles up to your knees? Steam-powered dive computers with visible gears? That’s some bad-ass gear.

“That level of detail’s critical if you respect the genre,” Chromis said. “You can’t very well be Lord Archibald Clankenshaft-St. Giles at 80 feet without clockwork mechanisms and a skeleton pocket watch, now can you?”

Island dive staffs are concerned about the new equipment’s safety.

“Most of our divers, with standard scuba rigs, are lucky to finish a dive without hurting themselves,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “They strap on all these funky gizmos, it’s gonna get ugly underwater.

“It’s job security for us, though,” DeLow said. “More than ever, our divers’ll need us to get them back to the boat alive and in one piece.”

Other resorts are requiring divers to familiarize divers with their new gear before entering open water.

“We’re making steampunkers do a full skill circuit in the pool so we can see what we’re dealing with,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “They have to know what they’re doing with whatever contraption they strap on before they jump in real water.”

Planck is planning to expand the line if it proves popular.

“We’ve got plans for all sorts of gear-driven diabolical devices—smoothbore spear pistols and zeppelin-shaped underwater scooters and the like,” he said. “They’re scuba accessories. The more useless they are, the better they sell, and we’re making our stuff plenty useless.”

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Ruins Off Blacktip Island Coast May Be Atlantis Remnants

underwater city

Cori Anders and other divers take measurements of the upright slab walls of the underwater ruins they discovered this week off Blacktip Island’s south coast. (photo courtesy of Vincent Lou)

Scuba divers exploring off Blacktip Island’s southern tip Wednesday discovered rocky formations some marine experts say could be the remains of a sunken city.

“We were out diving for fun and stumbled across these cool architectural features,” Cori Anders said. “They were totally obvious, but it’s right out from Mango Sound, where the currents are ripping and people don’t dive much. That’s got to be how it stayed hidden for so long.

“The vertical slabs with super tight seams between them reminded me of that Yonaguni site by Okinawa,” Anders said. “There were way too many straight lines for it to be natural—that doesn’t happen in nature. Much. And there’s weird figures scratched into them, too. They’re absolutely man-made.”

Island scientists were skeptical.

“Judging from the video, the slabs are most likely layers of sedimentary rock and the joints are natural, parallel fractures,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine science professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “Those vertical walls likely used to be horizontal layers before the softer rock beneath them eroded and they settled upright. There’s plenty of straight lines in nature, and Cori’s photos prove that.”

Some locals say ruins off the island’s coast are no surprise.

“Always been stories about ancient civilizations on Blacktip, other cultures that thrived here ages ago,” amateur Atlantologist Antonio Fletcher said. “Ruins out there could be part of Atlantis, you know. We’re in the Western Hemisphere, and close to the Bimini Road—we know that’s part of Atlantis.

“Close to the Bermuda Triangle, too,” Fletcher said. “Could be something similar, that zaps you to another dimension. The Blacktip Trapezoid, maybe. That’s why folks on this island get so crazy sometimes. The university already did thorium tests that show the ruins are 10,000 years old. Ernesto just won’t release the results. And how does he explain the drawings?”

Mojarra rebutted Fletcher’s claims.

“No tests were done because no tests are needed,” he said. “Those ‘drawings’ are natural scratches where parrotfish nipped at the algae. And the only place those rocks are zapping anyone is to the bottom of a rum bottle.

“It’s more likely to be a part of Atlanta than Atlantis. At least Atlanta’s real,” Mojarra said. “Why don’t we exhaust natural, scientific explanations before we jump to UFOs, aliens and Bigfoot?”

Dive operators, meanwhile, are primed to capitalize on the find.

“We got Ruins Diver and Atlantis Diver specialty courses drawn up,” Sclub Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “Plus special ‘Dive Atlantis’ trips. For an up charge, of course. And t-shirts. Nothing like this anywhere else in the Caribbean. We’re all over that.”

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