Monthly Archives: June 2016

Craft Distillery Plumbs Rum To Blacktip Island Homes

rum plumbing

Barry Bottoms demonstrates a newly-installed Bottoms Up rum-delivery faucet in a Blacktip Island home. (photo courtesy of Bottoms Up Distillery)

A Blacktip Island distillery’s plan to pipe rum to every home on the island came under fire Thursday from an unlikely alliance of the island’s religious community and bar owners.

“Drinking’s already out of control on this little rock,” said the Rev. Pierre Grunt. “This plan will let people sit at their sink and drink until they pass out.

“Before, at least they had to get up and go to a bar,” Grunt said. “And what’s to keep little children away from the tap?”

Brewery owners defended their plan.

“Our market’s tiny. We’re fighting to survive financially,” Bottoms Up Distillery president Barry Bottoms said. “The idea’s to make our new Bottoms Up dark rum readily available to everyone.

“I don’t understand why Pierre’s got his shorts in such a wad,” Bottoms said. “The taps have child-proof locks. And with so many people drinking at home, this’ll cut down on drunk driving, too.”

Grunt found support from the island’s bar owners.

“Barry’s playing dirty pool, siphoning customers away from us,” said Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt. “Before, we’d buy booze from Barry, mark it up, sell it to our patrons. This plan cuts us out of the loop.

“Don’t know what kind of pipes Barry’s using, but they better be sturdy,” Skerritt said. “No telling what kind of damage a burrowing iguana or land crab might do to those lines, if you take my meaning.”

Many residents, however, are excited about the plan.

“It’ll be great, never being out of hootch,” divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Unless you don’t pay your bill and they cut you off. And the monthly billing’s like running a bar tab, really. Plus, they give volume discounts.

“The only hitch I can see is a pressure drop if too many people go for a drink at the same time,” Hoase said. “Like halftime during the Super Bowl or something.”

Bottoms, meanwhile, said Bottoms Up is sensitive to residents who oppose the plan.

“Getting your house rum plumbed is 100 percent optional,” Bottoms said. “It does increase the home’s resale value, though, so we’re suggesting church goers and A.A. types get the line installed and then just cap it off.

“We have plans to run separate lines for light and dark rums, eventually,” Bottoms said. “And if it works well on Blacktip, we’ll branch out to the other Tiperon islands.”

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Vintage Scuba Enthusiasts Face Opposition On Blacktip Island

antique diving

Blacktip Island Mossback Club president Jay Valve’s vintage 1961 double-hose regulator at Diddley’s Landing public peir after a recent club shore dive. (photo courtesy of Jay Valve)

A vintage scuba diving club on Blacktip Island came under fire Thursday from dive operators and medical professionals who claim the group’s activities undermine public safety.

“No one’ll let us use our older gear on the dive boats, so we got together to dive on our own,” said Jay Valve, president of the Blacktip Island Mossbacks. “ I’ve been using this reg for 55 years, and it still works great. Why should I ditch it just because some 20-something dive bum tells me it’s out of date?

“I service my kit like clockwork. It’s as safe as any modern rig,” Valve said. “Next thing you know they’ll tell me a have to use a dive computer.”

Dive professionals say the mid-century equipment is inherently dangerous.

“Jay’s regulator’s older than my dad,” said Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick. “Makes the same noises Dad does, too. There’s no way we’re letting Jay on our boat. That reg doesn’t even have a pressure gauge.

“Knuckleheads want to go out and drown themselves, they’re welcome to it,” Kiick said. “Just don’t make us fill out any paperwork or talk to lawyers. Blacktip has boats and beaches. Beaches are good for them.”

Public safety officials want the group’s activities banned altogether.

“These are antiquated divers, trudging in from shore with antiquated equipment,” Public Health Director Herring Frye said. “It’s multiple coronaries waiting to happen. We don’t have the staff or infrastructure to handle that kind of thing.

“And what happens when youngsters see them and want to dive like that, too?” Frye said. “The police need to shut this down before someone dies.”

Island police say their hands are tied.

“No law about what kind of scuba equipment you can use, so long as you have a dive flag,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Looks kind of cool, too, all those ‘Sea Hunt’ rigs getting used. Reminds me of my Daddy’s gear.”

Club members, meanwhile, vowed to dive on.

“We’re all in better shape than most of the guests on the dive boats,” Mossback Clete Horn said. “And there’s a simplicity to this older equipment, an authenticity, if you will, that modern gear lacks. We’re not hung up on technology. We just dive.”

One resort, meanwhile, has embraced the club and its philosophy.

“They want authentic, we’ll take ‘em out on that old P.O.S. boat we can’t sell,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “It’s older than some of those museum pieces they’re diving with.

“If it sinks with them on it, well, that ads to the realism, doesn’t it?” Skerritt said. “We charge an up fee for an adventure dive and write the boat off on insurance.”

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Divers Discover Fountain of Youth on Blacktip Island Reef


A juvenile nurse shark swims through the shallows at Blacktip Island’s Ponce de Leon Reef Thursday, near the underwater vents believed to have restored youth to scuba diving visitors. (Photo courtesy of Marina DeLow)

Scuba divers on Blacktip Island’s Ponce de Leon Reef Wednesday discovered what local authorities say may be the famed Fountain of Youth.

“There’s always been a halocline up in the shallows where fresh water vents up through the hardpan,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “No idea why divers wandered up in there. The vis is manky and the coral’s just polyps.

“All the juvenile fish on that site should’ve been a tip off,” Diesel said. “Then when all those kids wearing adult-sized scuba gear climbed back on the boat, well, we knew something was up.”

Experts say the spring leaching out underwater may have helped keep it secret.

“Legend says the Fountain of Youth is in the Caribbean,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Explorers searched for it for centuries, but no one expected it to be underwater.

“We’re not sure what the source is, or why no one has noticed it before,” Altschul said. “It may be booby pond water, since no one’s ever tried to drink that stuff. Or the rejuvenating properties could be from booby pond muck catalyzing with seawater. We don’t even know if the effects are permanent.”

The discovery caused problems at Blacktip Island resorts.

“We had a boat full of guests at the bar demanding post-dive drinks,” Eagle Ray Cove resort manager Mickey Smarr said. “They talked like adults and all, but they were little kids. We had to turn them away. We’re not about to serve minors.”

Resort dive staffs have not been impacted by the water.

“Near as we can tell, divemasters are immune to the stuff,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Shouldn’t come as a surprise, I guess. It’d be hard to get any less mature than our dive staff.

“We’re selling kids masks and t-shirts and sun screen like crazy, too,” Latner said. “So there is a silver lining.”

Island resort owners, meanwhile, are promoting the dive site for its obvious benefits.

“We’re charging double to dive there, and folks are lining up to pay for it,” said Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt. “We’re working up a Fountain of Youth Diver specialty course to teach divers how to get close enough to take a few years off without zapping themselves back to pre-puberty.

“That first group all has to get recertified as Junior Divers,” Skerritt said. “Damn shame. We can’t let some of them dive past 40 feet. There was a bit of marital strife by the resort pool, too, when a little tyke came back from diving and tried to get frisky with his non-diving wife.”


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Booze Aerobics Targets Blacktip Island’s Health Woes

rum aerobics

An innovative exercise program will allow Blacktip Island’s most hard-core drinkers to increase their physical activity from the comfort of their barstools. (Photo courtesy of Palometa Fischer)

Blacktip Island fitness buffs this week launched an alcohol-based aerobics program, conducted in all three of Blacktip’s bars, to combat the Caribbean island’s growing obesity problem.

“Blacktippers are freakishly out of shape,” aerobics instructor Palometa Fischer said. “We can’t stop them from drinking – it’s the island pastime. Instead, we’re getting them active while they drink.

“We’re taking advantage of the captive audience,” said Fischer. “The only drawback so far was the couple of beer bottles thrown at us when we first walked in.”

Program participants were upbeat after the first session.

“We’re jumping up and down watching football anyway. This wasn’t all that different,” said James Conlee at the Last Ballyhoo bar. “Palometa jumping around in them shorts didn’t hurt, either, you know.”

Health professionals, however, questioned the program’s safety.

“This regimen will worsen Blacktip Island’s alcohol epidemic,” said Dr. Azul Tang. “And most of these people are in no shape for vigorous exercise. Palometa’s going to have her hands full with cardiac arrests and broken bones.”

Program organizers emphasized their safety protocol.

“We have a 2:1 instructor-to-student ratio so we can prop people up if they start to fall,” instructor Ginger Bass said. “And the nurse is on call for every session.

“We start slow so people can acclimate – stretching on a bar stool, that sort of thing – then graduate to standing stretches,” Bass said. “We have pool sessions, too, for the really wobbly ones. They can’t fall too far. And we put Water Wings around their necks so their heads’ll float if they do.”

Participants applauded the safety measures.

“So far, worst that happened is James spewed beer in the middle of jumping jacks,” Last Ballyhoo regular Dermott Bottoms said. “But he’d been drinking since breakfast, so you kind of expected it. That’s why they didn’t put him in the pool.”

Fischer, meanwhile, plans to expand the program in the future.

“We’re working up to a weekly Run for the Rum Bottle around a track,” Fischer said. “We put bottle on a pulley, like the fake rabbit they use for greyhound racing, and let everyone chase after it.

“For extreme cardio we’ll toss spiders on the bar when no one expects it,” Fischer said. “We beta tested that, and it got everyone’s heart rate right up into the fat-burning zone.”

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