Blacktip Island’s Pirate Festival celebrations turned ugly Wednesday when festival-goers accidentally burned the island’s only supply barge.
“One minute we’re drinking rum and shooting flare guns at each other,” resident Dermott Bottoms said. “The next, KABOOM!”
“Dermott did shoot a squib, didn’t quite clear that barge,” Bottoms’ friend Jesse Conlee said. “No idea they hadn’t offloaded all that gasoline.”
No one was injured in the blast.
“It does put us in a bind,” local businessman Rich Skerritt said. “That’s the only boat that hauls essential supplies like food, fuel and beer.”
The Tiperon Heritage Society, sponsors of the Pirate Festival, has mobilized a grassroots provisioning effort and is using the accident as a teaching opportunity.
“We’re demonstrating all the old crafts we used back before there was a supply barge,” Heritage Society president Doris Blenny said. “We’ve transformed the area around the wreckage into a hands-on teaching exhibit, showing folks how to braid rope, weave cloth and hijack passing ships.
“The Tiperons, and Blacktip in particular, have a rich history of piracy. We’re simply shifting the Festival’s emphasis from pretend-piracy to real-life piracy. This isn’t some ‘Captain Philips’ Hollywood show. No, no. This is authentic, parrot-on-your-shoulder stuff.
“There’s boats out as we speak, raiding relief convoys bound for Haiti,” Blenny said. “Sure, it’d be easier to just fly stuff in, but this lets us reconnect with our roots. And it’s way more fun.”
“We got the Youth Scouts involved,” Scout leader Samson Post said. “They’re fearless in their little sailboats. And with their cutlasses. They can get right up close to a supply ship without anyone getting too worried – they’re just kids dressed up like pirates, after all.
“They’re slated to make a raid tomorrow, give them the chance to earn merit badges in Sailing, Cannoneering, Cursing and Scallywagging.”
In related news, officials are asking for volunteer scuba divers to help recover any undamaged goods from the barge that may have sunk due to the explosion.
“There’s probably 50 cases of beer got blown all over the reef,” salvage coordinator Ger Latner said. “We’re hauling up lots of bottles. Problem is, after being in salt water, those bottle caps are all rusting off. We’re having to drink the beer quick as we can before it goes flat. We need volunteers for that, too.”