Monthly Archives: August 2018

Blacktip Island Lighthouse Vandalized To Shine Bat Signal

lighthouse bat_signal

Blacktip Island’s northern lighthouse shines a Batman logo into an overcast sky Thursday evening. The navigational beacon was vandalized earlier in the week to display the signal. (photo courtesy of Simon Scarfe)

Vandals Monday modified Blacktip Island’s northern lighthouse to display the Batman-related Bat Signal, island authorities said.

“Someone got in the housing and blacked in a Batman logo on the lens,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “We blamed it on kids, but really, it could have been anyone. It was funny at first, but it’s caused some unforeseen safety issues.

“Passing ships are saying it’s confusing,” Marquette said. “Last night an oil tanker damn-near ran aground. Of course, the captain claimed he was Batman, and was wearing nothing but a black hood and cape, so there were extenuating circumstances.”

Community leaders have opted not to repair the light immediately.

“Our guests love it,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “They bike up to the north point before dinner just to see it. It’s the latest stop on the island tour.

“It’s drawing tourists up where most visitors don’t go, and word’s spreading quick,” Skerritt said. “We’re seeing an uptick in resort bookings the last few days.”

The vandalism has also boosted the island’s dive industry.

“Near as we can tell, the signal’s attracting batfish,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “They’re super rare, but the north-end reefs are lousy with them this week. We’re hauling divers up there morning, afternoon and night.”

The financial boom has some residents suspicious.

“The Tail Spinner bar up on the point is doing a bang-up business since that so-called prank,” Sally Port said. “I wouldn’t put it past old Harry Wrasse to have done it himself, just to sell more drinks.

“The Skerritts and Bottomses aren’t above pulling a stunt like that, either, to fill their resorts,” Port said. “Of course, it could’ve been Jerrod Ephesians, for a lark. He’s just crazy enough. And he has that tweak-your-nose artsy side to him.”

Others say the attention has ruined Blacktip’s small-island charm.

“The crowds have killed the Spinner’s laid-back vibe,” Gage Hoase said. “It used to be a great place to chill and watch the sunset. Now, it’s packed with 15, 20 tourists at a time. The Spinner, the island can’t handle that kind of crowd.”

Island officials say the light will be repaired by the end of the weekend.

“Batman’s a DC Comics character, and we have a sponsorship contract with Marvel Comics,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It’s been fun and games, but now there’s a bunch attorneys involved, and charging by the hour. If the pranksters wanted to bring money to the island, they picked the wrong way to do it.”

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Two-Bike Collision Sends Two To Blacktip Island Clinic

two-bike collision

Lee Helm’s bicycle rests in Blacktip Island’s booby pond after a late-night, head-on collision with cyclist Rusty Goby Wednesday. Both men have been charged with biking while intoxicated. (photo courtesy of gillfoto)

A nighttime, head-on collision between two bicyclists Wednesday night sent two Blacktip Island residents to the island’s medical clinic, filling the facility to capacity.

“Near as I can tell, Rusty Goby was racing north from the Sand Spit, and Lee Helm was headed south from the Tail Spinner,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Neither had any kind of headlamp or flashlight or signaling device, and BAM!

“They smashed into each other on that dark stretch north of Sandy Bottoms where there’s no street lights,” Marquette said. “Rusty was in a hurry to meet friends. Lee was rushing to get to karaoke. God only knows why. They hit so hard one bike flew into the booby pond.”

Medical authorities said both men were knocked unconscious, but escaped more serious injuries.

“They’ve both got some nasty road rash, and are nursing major headaches, but that’s it,” island nurse Marisa Pompano said. “They got lucky. They were both so rat-faced drunk their bones were all rubbery.

“I’m keeping them in the clinic for observation, and poking them every few minutes to make sure they don’t drift off to sleep while they’re concussed,” Pompano said. “We’re lucky no one else was hurt. I’m out of beds. We usually only get single-vehicle accident on Blacktip.”

The men were saved by a passing motorist.

“Antonio Fletcher was driving by, and thankfully he was sober enough to see them in the road in time to stop,” Pompano added. “The accident could have been way messier than it was.

Authorities say both cyclists will be charged with drunken biking, and bicycle safety ordinances will be more strictly enforced.

“A quick look-and-smell told me they had both been biking while intoxicated, so they’ll be charged with BWI,” Marquette said. “There’s been too much of this sort of thing lately. We’ll send a strong message that it won’t be tolerated.

“The bicycle headlamp ordinances on the books’ll be strictly enforced going forward,” Marquette said. “Headlamps and rear reflectors are required, and I’ll be doing regular inspections after hours and at bars.

Both bikes were totaled in the collision.

“I hauled both bikes to the dump so people can strip them for parts,” resident Clete Horn said. “One of the baskets was totally accordioned, but the other one’s salvageable. Both front rims are shot, though.”

Some in the community urged more streetlights for safety, but local officials shot that down.

“There’s no funds for more streetlights,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We have lights in the crowded areas, where they’re most needed, and that’s it.

“People on this island need to start taking responsibility for their own actions,” Cobia said. “We start putting lights on every power pole, people with think they’re in New York City.”

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‘Sub-Dudes’ Underwater Casino Skirts Blacktip Island’s Gambling Ban

JACQUES ROUGERIE

A pair of Blacktip Island visitors take a shuttle to the Sub-Dudes underwater casino off the Island’s east coast Wednesday for it’s grand opening. (photo courtesy of Jacques Rougerie Architecte)

Local entrepreneurs are betting their underwater casino, opened Wednesday off Blacktip Island’s east coast, will successfully dodge the Tiperon Island’s strict anti-gambling laws.

“The law clearly states no gambling may take place on Blacktip, or on the seas surrounding it,” said Felicia Skulkin, attorney for the newly-formed Blacktip Island Gaming Association said. “It doesn’t bar gaming under the water, and that’s where the Sub-Dudes Lounge comes in.

“We’re providing a service other business people and the government weren’t able, or wouldn’t take,” Skulkin said. “Sub-Dudes is simply one more place island guests can relax, unwind and blow off some cash . . . I mean, steam.”

The casino is built into the limestone seabed 50 yards offshore.

“It’s a big dome in about 20 feet of water,” financier and Eagle Ray Cove Resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “It’s accessed from shore via a Plexiglas tunnel that lets people watch the sharks and barracudas as they wander down.

“Guests can also access the facility via scuba,” Skerritt said. “Eagle Ray Cove dive boats’ll drop you off, or folks can shore-dive in if they want.”

Critics worry the casino will harm Blacktip long-term.

“Building it underwater is an end-run around a law put in place for good reason,” local resident and retired attorney Frank Maples said. “That casino won’t bring money to Blacktip, it’ll bring money to Rich, period. That’s money that could’ve been sent elsewhere on Blacktip.

“Rich and his cronies only revealed it was a casino at the opening yesterday. That’s textbook consciousness of guilt,” Maples said. “The last thing Blacktip needs is gambling and the organized-crime influence that goes along with it. It’s no secret Vinny Calamari from Tiperon is a big investor in this scheme.”

Local law enforcement questioned the legality of underwater gambling.

“The structure itself may bypass the law, but people coming to Blacktip with the intent to gamble do not,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “The same goes for anyone returning to shore with what will be considered illegally-obtained winnings.”

“There’ve also been rumors of casino staff denying air to non-gamblers and big winners,” Marquette said. “In-water or out, that’s extortion.”

Other officials supported the casino.

“I was shocked, simply shocked when I learned Sub-Dudes was a gambling facility,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Then Rich Skerritt dropped off that cash for the island’s widows-and-orphans fund, and I realized there was a quite the upside to underwater gaming.

“And I’ve known Vinny Calamari for years. He’s a reputable business investor,” Cobia said. “The only crime organized in all this is people slandering the place and making it sound unsafe.”

Skerritt allayed safety concerns by noting the casino is equipped with multiple hyperbaric options.

“The safety of our guests and their and enjoyment are our prime concerns,” he said. “Sub-Dudes is tricked out with a two-place barometric chamber for folks who let time get away from them. We also have a hyperbaric stretcher to get them to the surface in an emergency.

“Our staff’s well trained and knows denying treatment, or air, to a client is a big no-no,” Skerritt said. “There’s nothing to be afraid of at Sub-Dudes. Come on down. Trust us.”

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