One of the last parking chocks still above water on Blacktip Island, with an underwater giant Jenga team’s lift bag and mallet, in the Blacktip Haven resort parking lot.
Members of a newly-formed underwater giant Jenga league have illegally cleared Blacktip Island’s parking lots of cement parking chocks for use as game blocks, island authorities said Friday.
In conventional Jenga, players take turns removing one wooden block at a time from a tower of blocks, then balance that block on top of the stack to create a progressively taller but less stable structure.
“It started with bored divemasters and a load of sunken chocks that fell overboard out from the public dock,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Next thing you know, they’re dragging chocks from resort parking lots and chucking them into the sea.
“After a YouTube video, it really took off,” Marquette said “Now they’ve hauled off every parking bumper that’s not bolted down so they can make a regulation 54-block set. I’d arrest them all, but there’s no proof who committed the actual thefts.”
Players preferred to focus on the intricacies of the game.
“It’s giant Jenga, only with more adrenalin,” said divemaster Alison Diesel. “Each block weighs, like, 200 pounds. Two-person teams use lift bags to make a block neutrally buoyant, then tap it out of the pile with rubber mallets.
“Both people have to be in synch, or things get ugly,” Diesel said. “Personal buoyancy control’s a biggie, too. You’re down in the sand when a six-foot tower crashes down, you’re crab food.”
League organizers brushed aside talk of the game’s illegality.
“We’ve done nothing wrong and no one stole anything,” de facto league president Jerrod Ephesians said. “The blocks were underwater debris. We’re simply using them. And we never have matches when the barge is due. That’d create a navigational hazard.
“The only problem we’ve had is a couple of ugly incidents involving husband-and-wife teams,” Ephesians said. “Kitty Smarr swore she dumped her lift bag by accident, and that she was yelling for help, but Mickey damn-near got crushed, and it sure sounded like Kitty was laughing through her regulator.”
Police, meanwhile, are concerned the missing bumpers imperil public safety.
“There’s not a single chock in any of the island’s car parks,” Marquette said. “That creates a dangerous situation. I can seize the ones that’ve been sunk, but I have no way to get them out of the water. Meantime, motorists are damaging vehicles, buildings and themselves without chocks to stop the cars.”
One local business owner is using the Jenga matches to cover the cost of new parking bumpers at his resort.
“We put in underwater cameras at Diddley’s Landing,” said Rich Skerritt, owner of Eagle Ray Cove resort. “We’re charging folks to watch the live feed at the bar. That, and the alcohol sales, should recoup the cost of chocks. And when we get new ones, we’re gonna pound them in place with five, six feet of rebar so these scuba hippies can’t steal them.”