Monthly Archives: January 2014

Divemasters Prohibitive Underdogs in Fish Bowl

The Divemasters will battle the Anglers in Sunday’s Fish Bowl grudge match, coinciding with the American Super Bowl.

The Divemasters will battle the Anglers in Sunday’s Fish Bowl grudge match, coinciding with the Super Bowl.

Blacktip Island sports fans are primed for Sunday’s Fish Bowl, pitting island dive staff against local fishermen in a game of American football.

“It’s a long-standing feud,” Anglers captain Jack Cobia said. “Divers think fish are just something to look at. We fishermen actually do something useful with them. The fish, not the divemasters. There’s nothing useful you can do with a divemaster.”

As ever, the Divemasters are prohibitive underdogs, with the Anglers winning all 17 past meetings.

“We’d love to beat the fish killers, but we’ll consider it a moral victory if we can finish the game,” Divemasters’ coach Ger Latner said.

“It’s hard to find enough dive staff sober enough to stand, much less catch a football. Three of them broke their noses in practice just trying.”

The Divemasters outscored the Anglers in last year’s match, but were disqualified for using performance-enhancing substances when large amounts of Red Bull and Midol were found in their water cooler.

As ever, smoking will be permitted on both sidelines.

“The NFL has oxygen tents. We have smoking benches,” Cobia said. “Coolers of beer, too. It makes timeouts more productive. Plus, it’s the only way we can get enough players to turn out.”

The Anglers are expected to run their usual I-Formation offense, with a brutal running game setting up play-action passes.

The Divemasters will experiment with a 1930s-era single-wing attack.

“We call it the ‘Wing-And-A-Prayer,’” Latner said. “We can’t throw. We can’t catch. We can’t block. But we can run like hell. In short bursts, anyway. Especially when someone’s chasing us.”

“The game’s great fun,” Divemaster fan Alison Diesel said. “It’s like one of those old electric football games where you’d flip the switch and the field would vibrate and the players would bash into each other until you switched it off again.”

Mascots will be banned from the sidelines after last year’s towel fight between Fisherman Freddy and Ben the Grouper that spread into the stands.

“That was unfortunate,” Cobia said. “It detracted from the game. The attention should be on the on-field fistfights, not on a couple of costumed yahoos.”

“Ben won fair and square,” Latner said. “And our fans beat the hell out of theirs. This mascot banning nonsense is just a red herring.”

The unofficial over/under line on how many minutes of game time elapse before the first player passes out is 7 ½ minutes.

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Blacktip Island To Break Free From Base

Winter waves threaten to break Blacktip Island from its base

Winter waves threaten to break Blacktip Island from its base

Scientists Thursday confirmed Blacktip Island will soon break free of its deep-sea base following recent winter storms.

“A combination of ocean acidification and deep ocean waves have been gnawing away at the island for years,” Tiperon University at Blacktip marine geologist Ernesto Mojarra said. “This is soft limestone. It doesn’t hold up.

“The erosion’s most noticeable around the 100-foot depth. If you took a cross-section of the island all the way up from the sea floor, the exposed land would look like a lollipop on a needle-thin stick. It’s only a matter of time, a very short time, geologically speaking, before that sucker breaks off,” Mojarra said.

“What happens then is anyone’s guess. The island could sink, what, 6,000 feet straight down. Or, given that it’s porous limestone with lots of air pockets, it could very well float. There’s no precedent.”

Island residents have feared this prognosis for some time.

“The water level’s been rising for months, you know,” Doris Blenny said. “Now university tests proved it.

“We’re not a bunch of Chicken Littles yelling, ‘The sky is falling.’ Far from it. We’re yelling, ‘The island’s sinking.’ It’s different.”

Government plans to chain the island to its base proved impractical. Instead, authorities have stitched together a giant sail, to be raised on the cell tower at the island’s center, and are submerging a warehouse door to act as a rudder at the island’s northern tip.

Blenny and other residents are stuffing island sinkholes with Styrofoam and boat fenders to increase the island’s buoyancy.

And if the island sinks?

“We all have skiffs lashed to our roofs,” Blenny said. “We just climb up, cut ourselves free. I, myself, sleep in my skiff, machete in hand. Just in case.”

Meanwhile, island scuba operators have been taking advantage of the geological anomaly.

“Tourists ask all the time how deep you have to go to see under the island,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Now we can tell them. Ninety-three feet. Then we take them down and show them.”

“We’re selling Under-Island Diving specialty courses like crazy,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager Finn Kiick said. “This is the only place on Earth you can be certified to look at the bottom of an island. We charge accordingly, of course.”

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Island Braces For Underwater Cage Chess Tourney

Blacktip Island’s Underwater Cage Chess Championship will be fought offshore from the Sand Spit bar.

Blacktip Island’s Underwater Cage Chess Championship will be fought offshore from the Sand Spit bar.

Underwater chess aficionados are flooding Blacktip Island for Saturday’s Seventh Annual Underwater Cage Chess Championship.

“Blacktip’s one of the top producers of underwater chess grand masters,” said island native and event founder Rocky Shores. “It’s also home to some tough SOBs. Having the tournament here was a no brainer.”

The world’s top Underwater Cage Chess masters will compete this year, including defending champion Cassia Nimzovitch, Jacques ‘Boom-Boom’ Fisher, Sea Itch Anand and local favorite Shores. Competitors will square off in 30 feet of water offshore from the Sand Spit bar.

“Think of it as scuba diving meets mixed martial arts meets blitz chess,” tournament director Roy Lopez said. “It’s the ancient fight for survival in the primordial goo, with the winner crawling onto dry land victorious.

“Sure, you can say ‘knight takes pawn on E7,’ but in UCC, that knight’s in for a fight. In past tourneys we’ve seen well-trained pawns take down knights, rooks, even a queen,” Lopez said.

Divers playing the Sicilian dragon defense usually employ some variation of sea dragon kung fu. French defense aficionados often opt for subaqueous savate.

“Last year’s winner used a deadly combination of the Albin Counter Gambit and a bite to her opponent’s regulator hose,” Lopez said. “The action was so thick all you could see was a cloud of bubbles and the odd fin or bishop flashing free.”

“For training, I watch a lot of Aquaman cartoons,” said Shores, last year’s runner-up. “Old Sea Hunt episodes are good, too.”

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Lopez added. “Some poor patzer last year opened with an old-school Giuoco Piano and a double-hose regulator.  We hauled up what was left of him after six moves.”

Matches last until checkmate, resignation or one competitor runs out of air.

“If your tank runs dry, you forfeit as soon as you tap out or pass out,” Lopez said. “Stalemate’s rarely an option.”

All matches will be shown live at the Sand Spit on closed-circuit television. The tournament champion will receive the coveted Golden Queen Triggerfish Belt and a $50 gift certificate redeemable at the Sand Spit.

“It is wonderful to see the younger generation get involved,” defending champion Nimzovitch said. “End of the day, we do this for the kids. Diving just now, I saw two children trying to drown each other on their safety stop. It was heartwarming.”

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Pygmy Sharks Return to Blacktip Island

One of the pygmy sharks (Carcharhinus pygmius) swarming Blacktip Island’s beaches.

One of the pygmy sharks (Carcharhinus pygmius) swarming Blacktip Island’s beaches.

The first wave of pygmy sharks has returned to Blacktip Island, signaling the unofficial end of hurricane season and the beginning of Shark Days pranks.

“It may be an old wives tale, but it holds true,” Sandy Bottoms, owner of Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort said. “We’ve had nasty blows after the official December 1 end-of-hurricane-season date, but never after the sharks show up.

“They’re a month late, but we’re happy to see them. Everyone can let our hair down and have some fun now that storm season’s past.”

The diminutive sharks (Carcharhinus pygmius) migrate past the Tiperon Island chain on their way to winter breeding grounds off coast of Central America.

Scientists speculate the end of storm season coinciding with the pygmy sharks’ return is due to seasonal weather patterns bringing cooler water to Blacktip Island, and the sharks along with it.

The sharks’ arrival is greeted with parties along island beaches.

“We bring the kids and make a day of it,” resident Edwin Chub said. “It truly brings the community together. No better way to welcome the New Year than with these little fellows . . . and some good-natured jokes.”

The sharks, trickster figures in island lore, also bring a time of island-wide practical joking.

“It’s a way to blow off steam without any long-term repercussions,” Chub said. “An island this small, neighbors have to get along. You can’t go having a confrontation every time there’s a disagreement – you do that you lose a friend, and quite possibly the help you need in the next storm. These pranks let us vent our frustrations in healthy, productive ways so we can all live happily together.”

“A couple years back, someone filled Payne Hanover’s place with live land crabs,” resident Nelson Pilchard said. “Big ones. Took Payne forever to get them all out. They tore up two oven mitts and a baseball glove before he was through. And he was days cleaning up the crab poop.”

“Last year someone left a pair of lacey red panties in Mickey Smarr’s glove box, with a note saying, ‘thanks for the good time,’” Bottoms said. “When Mickey’s wife found them, she beat him near-senseless. Only thing saved him was it was Shark Days. They’re still married, and Mickey’s scars are healing nicely. No one knows who did it. Could have been anyone – Mickey has a way of pissing people off. ‘The sharks got him,’ as we say.”

Island authorities could not confirm whether last night’s fire at the Customs house was related to a Shark Days prank.

“We’re lucky Shark Days only last a few weeks,” Chub said, “otherwise the celebrations might get out of hand.”

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Skeet Shooters Clash With Shoppers Over Delivery Drones

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A delivery drone similar to the ones being targeted on Blacktip Island. (photo by X-Javier)

 

The Blacktip Island Trap and Skeet Club’s recent use of online delivery drones as targets has sparked a bitter feud with island shoppers.

“Clay pigeons get pricey, when we can get them,” club president B.C. Flote said. “We lucked onto this, though, and it’s been a blast.

“First time was a mistake. Ol’ Doc Plank saw one of those things coming in low over the range, thought it was part of the sporting clay session, and blew it to bejesus. From there we were off and running.”

Customers awaiting drone deliveries on the isolated Caribbean island are not amused.

“It’s hard enough to get supplies on Blacktip,” resident Corry Anders said. “These drones were a godsend. Now our stuff’s getting blown away left and right. What is wrong with these people?”

Conservationists are up in arms as well.

“They’re blazing away at anything that flies – frigate birds, boobies, ospreys, even a flamingo,” said Waterfowl Warrior spokesperson Harry Pickett. “These are protected species, and they’re being blown to smithereens.”

Club members, however, are enthusiastic.

“It’s brilliant,” shooter Lee Helm said. “You order some knickknack online, prang it before it can land, then decline payment for non-delivery. You have to wait four to six business days for a target, but it’s free.”

“The coast is eat-up with sport shooters,” Flote said. “Some folks are even anchoring offshore in skiffs, or bobbing in scuba gear to get first crack at drones flying low under the radar. Right now, Blacktip Island has a tighter air defense system than North Korea.

“And the so-called flamingo incident was actually a delivery of pink feather boas,” Flote said. “No harm done there. We tell our folks, ‘if it’s flapping, let it pass,’ and they generally comply.”

Island shoppers like Anders, however, angered by lost deliveries, have launched a grassroots response aimed at ensuring the safe arrival of their goods.

“We’re bombarding the shooting blinds,” Anders said. “Hunting the hunters. As soon as a shooter raises a gun, we pelt them with coconuts. It’s crude, but effective. This would have been a bleak Christmas if it weren’t for our coconut barrages. They can’t shoot if they’re unconscious on the sand.

“It’s an all-for-one, united-we-stand situation. The goods you save may be your own.”

Island shooting enthusiasts have responded by donning bicycle helmets and wrapping themselves in beach towels for protection.

“It’s become a real cat-and-mouse game,” Flote said, “with us trying to get a clean shot and the shoppers trying to whack us. It takes the sport to a whole new level that I think benefits both sides.”

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