Blacktip Haven divemaster Peachy Bottoms takes a break Thursday before briefing a group of resort guests about an upcoming dive on a Blacktip Island reef. (photo courtesy of Christopher Brown)
A Blacktip Island scuba resort began offering silent, mime dive briefings this week to accommodate as diverse an array of divers as possible in the Caribbean island’s competitive scuba market.
“We want to be totally inclusive,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “We already offer briefings in Spanish, French, German and American Signing so it’s really just a matter of adding one more language to serve our growing number of mime divers. Plus, it calms some non-mime guests who aren’t comfortable with spoken briefings or eye contact.
Dive staff say the briefings have proved popular.
“You get the guests’ complete attention when you mime all the fish they’ll see. And all the coral,” Blacktip Haven dive guide Rusty Goby said. “They love it when you do the ‘walking against the current’ bit. And when the invisible box of dive time gets smaller and smaller around us.”
“You don’t need the striped shirt and beret, but they help,” Goby added. “Quinn Blenny has a striped wetsuit that totally rocks. And when he smears white sunscreen all over his face, you’d swear you were on a Parisian street corner. In a good way.”
The briefings are not without their critics.
“Some non-mime guests love the briefings, but others have zero tolerance,” divemaster Peachy Bottoms said. “And, boy, do they take it out on us. We had to put in new safety rules. There’s no dive knives allowed on board now. Or spears. Or pointed sticks.
“Staffing can be tricky, too,” Bottoms said. “Some DMs flat-out refuse to work on a mime boat. It’s . . . well . . . we’ve had a lot of turnover this week.”
Other Blacktip resorts applauded Blacktip Haven’s decision.
“I think it’s a great thing Elena’s doing,” said Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt. “ERC’s chock-a-block full right now with Haven guests getting as far away as they can from those damned mimes.
“That kind of thing may play well up there, but the folks we attract won’t stand for it,” Skerritt said. “We’re pushing The Cove as a ‘mime-free zone’ on our website, and the bookings are already piling in.”
Havens shrugged off the criticism, saying she’ll promote the new service aggressively.
“We heard all the jokes and all the scoffing, and we asked ourselves, ‘what would Marcel Marceau say?’” she said. “Long story short, we’re doubling down. We’ll have the best briefing options on the island.
“We’ll have staff offering evening mime classes for guests as well,” Havens added. “We even have two of our scuba instructors working up a Mime Diver specialty course, complete with confined water exercises for practice.”