Monthly Archives: January 2020

Blacktip Island Divers To Swim Underwater 5K For Charity

Underwater 5K

The Blacktip Island Running Club will host the inaugural underwater 5K fun dive Saturday morning to raise money for charity. (photo courtesy of Summitandbeach)

Race-minded Blacktip Island scuba divers are slated to swim a five-kilometer underwater course around the Caribbean island’s west coast reefs Saturday morning to raise money for charity, race organizers said.

“It’ll be like any other 5K, just underwater,” Blacktip Island Running Club president Val Schrader said. “We figured since most diving guests kick non-stop and cover that much territory every dive anyway, why not turn that to good and raise money for a much-beloved charitable organization?

“Anybody who’s certified is welcome to join in,” Schrader said. “It’s about participating and having fun for most participants. Only a few are actually fast enough to win, and they’ve been training ever since we announced the race last month. All ages are encouraged, and there’ll be awards for the winners of each age division. We’ll even have an under-10 division snorkeling category.”

Organizers said the logistics were more challenging than with a terrestrial race.

“For a road race you just measure out five kilometers on your car’s odometer and call it good,” club member Clete Horn said. “Underwater, though, distance measurement gets trickier. We had a team out with big tape measures plotting out a course around multiple dive sites. And a second team following behind, double-checking their math.

“We also had to steer the course away from coral as much as possible,” Horn said. “We’ve got 5K of dive reel line held up by stakes in the sand, in a meandering loop from Jawfish Reef to Hammerhead Ledge and back again.”

The race will start and end at Diddley’s Landing public pier.

“Racers’ll line up at the pier’s edge, and when we blow the whistle, they’ll all giant stride in at once,” Schrader said. “It’s about a nine-foot drop, so that entry may be the most exciting part of the race.

“We’ll post judges underwater at each turn to make sure no one cuts corners,” Schrader said. “The first diver to climb back up the steps beside the pier will win the coveted Golden Flipper award. Well, we’re pretty sure it’ll be coveted. Eventually.”

Spectators will be able to watch the race from the pier.

“We threw up some scaffolding in case people want a better view, but we’re really not expecting a huge crowd, what with the race starting at seven in the morning,” Port Authority head Rocky Shore said. “We’ll be serving hot coffee and cold bloody Marys for spectators in need, and after-race divers.”

Participants are using a variety of strategies to prepare for the race.

“Lee Helm’s blabbing about greasing himself up, like for an English Channel swim,” Alison Diesel said. “But, knowing Lee, that’s just an excuse to rub Crisco all over himself and wear his Speedo in public.

“Me, I’ve doing wind sprints on every dive this week, covering as many sites as possible,” Diesel said. “My thighs are screaming, but my cardio’s killer. Carb up big time tonight, and I’ll be taking home that Golden Flipper tomorrow.”

Proceeds from the race will go to the Helping Hands Monkey Hands service-animal providers.


Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving

Blacktip Island Entrepreneur Releases Seasonal Affective Disorder Panels

SAD panels

Blacktip Island sustainable scuba gear manufacturer Bamboo You is marketing retired restaurant chalk boards as ‘Sol-Less’ reverse-seasonal-affective disorder panels for overstimulated island visitors. (photo courtesy of Scottb211)

Blacktip Island entrepreneur Piers ‘Doc’ Planck Wednesday unveiled a new product line of black matte, light-absorbing panels to help island visitors manage their reverse-seasonal-affective disorders.

“People think of SAD only affecting folks in northern, low-sun latitudes, but the sunlight here can overwhelm newcomers,” Planck said. “Sometimes people need a downer, but they don’t know it. Or want to admit it. And our Sol-Less panels provide that.

“Visitors can get too upbeat and burn themselves out, what with all the sun and the light reflected from the water and the sand,” Planck said. “A lot of people overdose on sun and fun and crash by the third day or so. Next thing you know, they’re going to bed at 8:30.”

Planck associate Christina Mojarra explained how the panels counteract tropical sunlight.

“It’s based on the concept of subtractive lighting, like you’d use in photography,” she said. “Originally, we had test subjects sit inside for a bit, but no one wants to do that on a nice day. And the blacklights just made them hungry.

“Then we noticed people sitting by the blackboard at the Sand Spit bar were way chill, and the lightbulb went on,” Mojarra said. “In trials, overstimulated subjects sat beside our black matte panels for 20 minutes and it calmed them right down. They went from being out carousing and annoying the more low-key guests, to being low key themselves.”

The island’s scientific community is skeptical.

“Whatever Doc and Christina are doing may calm people down, but I’ve seen no causal relationship between sedate individuals and repurposed blackboards,” Tiperon University-Blacktip biology chair Catalina Luxfer said. “I think it’s more than coincidental their original test subjects were sitting at a bar mid-afternoon.”

Others objected to the panels’ marketing.

“Doc’s had some damn-fool ideas before, but this one takes the cake,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “He wants people to be less happy? How do you pitch ‘less happy’ as a good thing to potential island visitors?

“Tourists plan all year to come down here and get happy,” Cobia said. “It’s great he’s making money, but at what cost to the rest of us? Blacktip’s a 24-7 party, and he’s selling a buzz kill.”

Despite the criticism, end-users praised the panels.

“Sometimes the party, party, party side of a Caribbean scuba vacation can take its toll,” Eagle Ray Divers guest Quinn Blenny said. “The Sol-Less panels don’t squelch your fun, they just dial it back a notch or two. They let you enjoy your vacation in moderation and not need a vacation when you get back home.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Island Uses Fin-Kick Technology To Generate Electricity

fin-kick energy

Blacktip Island scuba divers now have the option of generating electricity for the Caribbean island’s power grid by attaching modified wave converters to their fins. (photo courtesy of jqpubliq)

Scuba divers on Blacktip Island this week began generating energy for the Caribbean island’s electric grid with their fin kicks to augment the island’s electrical infrastructure, public works officials said.

“Electricity’s expensive on this little rock, and burning diesel to generate it is hell on the environment,” Department of Public Works chief Stoney MacAdam said. “We’re going green and sustainable by strapping mini wave energy converters to divers’ fins and offloading the power they produce into the power grid.

“We don’t have the funding to launch a large-scale offshore facility, but the dive operations have helped defray the cost of these person-scaled oscillating surge converters,” MacAdam said. “Volunteer divers clip them on their fins, run a wire up their legs, and the energy produced gets stored in a battery pack on their BC. They turn the batteries in to the dive shops, the shops offload the electricity and the divers get discounted diving.”

The program is not without its hitches.

“We’re still in the pilot stage, but it’s been good overall, with only a couple of minor electrocutions” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Participating guests get a discount on their diving commensurate with how much electricity they generate, and volunteers are lining up despite the occasional zap.

“The big worry was how the batteries would hold up, but they’re doing fine,” Latner said. “With the lithium-ion puppies we’re using, you can slam power into them, then pound it back out without any negative effect. And the battery packs come with a quick-release buckle in case they overheat.”

Island visitors hailed the program.

“We’re helping the environment and getting a discount,” Gina Marlin said. “My husband and I made a game of it. We kick as big as we can, as fast as we can, to create as much power as possible. Then on safety stops, we race around the boat to make sure our batteries are jam packed.

“The only drawback so far is my collector battery drained some, and I didn’t get full credit for all the juice I produced,” Marlin said. “Whether that was a glitch or a bait-and-switch, I didn’t get nearly the credit I should have. Trip Advisor’s getting a smoking review about that.”

Some island dive staff are unhappy with the program.

“Clean energy’s good, but now we have yahoos doing big-ass flutter kicks to get their mondo discounts,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “The punters are blasting up sand and kicking the crap out of the reef just to save a few bucks. End of the day, this is worse for the coral.

“We beg people to use smaller kicks, to scull, so they don’t silt up the reef” Diesel said. “Now this is electric fin BS has them doing the opposite. What’s next, overweighting everyone so they kill even more coral?”

Officials remained optimistic.

“The scuba hippies can complain about damaged coral all they want, but this is good for the island overall,” MacAdam said. “The upside of this far outweighs some isolated reef damage.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving