The beer taps at Blacktip Island’s Last Ballyhoo bar, and all other island taps, are fully operational thank to the quick actions of a visiting scuba diving guest. Buddy Swill was awarded the Island’s Order of the Iguana, the highest citation available to a non-citizen. (Photo courtesy of abruellmann)
A Blacktip Island tourist was named a Tiperon Islands national hero Wednesday after he voluntarily repaired numerous broken beer taps at the small Caribbean island’s four bars.
“The salt air’s horrible on anything metal here,” said Sand Spit bartender Cori Anders. “Every beer tap but one on the island had corroded shut or gummed up. The Tale Spinner was the only place you could get draft beer, and that was some manky wheatgrass-and-lime lager crap.
“We’d order parts, but they’d get waylaid on Tiperon,” Anders said. “And the repair people said it wasn’t worth their time to come over from the big island. We were on our own.”
Community leaders had declared an island-wide emergency.
“Folks were getting desperate,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “They were drinking bottled beer. Canned beer. N.A. beer. Anything they could get.
“Beer-related scuffles were breaking out all over creation,” Cobia said. “And what with the big spring haiku tournament coming up, we’d reached crisis point. Things were about to get really ugly.”
Help came from an unlikely source.
“One of the guests up at Blacktip Haven owned a brew pub in the U.S.,” Last Ballyhoo bar owner Ferris Skerritt said. “He happened to have a tap in his bag. And a faucet wrench to swap it out.
“Then, on his own dime, he overnighted a bunch of taps down as ‘plumbing supplies,’ and everybody was back in business,” Skerritt said. “As far as I’m concerned, he can drink free for life at the Ballyhoo. With a reasonable daily limit, of course.”
The guest denied he was a hero.
“I just did what any beer lover would do,” Buddy Swill said. “Thankfully, I always travel with a spare tap and wrench. It’s bailed me out a bunch of times in the past.
“As for swapping out all the taps on the island, well, it was just the right thing to do,” Swill said. “I mean, if I hadn’t stepped in, how would I have been able to sleep at night?”
After a unanimous vote, officials scrambled to find a physical Order of the Iguana medal-and-ribbon for Swill.
“We don’t give out many of those things,” Cobia said. “Last time was the septic tank debacle back in ’03. I managed to find a dusty medal in the archives and we gave that to Buddy.
“The commendation reads: ‘His timely intervention averted widespread riots and preserved public peace,’” Cobia said. “Whether he likes it or not, Buddy’s a member of the realm now, with all the rights, honors and whatsits that go with it.”
To celebrate the award, and the return of draft beer, the island council is sponsoring a Drain the Keg island-wide festival for Friday night. All work is cancelled on Saturday.