Monthly Archives: November 2020
Eagle Ray Cove divemaster Gage Hoase was named Blacktip Island’s scuba ambassador this week (photo courtesy of Marina DeLow)
The Blacktip Island Tourism Society Thursday announced Eagle Ray Cove resort divemaster Gage Hoase is the island’s first dive ambassador. The title is part of a larger effort to raise the small Caribbean island’s visibility among scuba divers worldwide.
“Our borders are closed because of COVID, but once they open up, we need to make up for lost time. Pronto,” de facto island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We need tourists champing at the bit to come here. Other islands have dive ambassadors. Why not Blacktip?
“Gage isn’t the sharpest ax in the shed, but he has that homespun cheerfulness folks respond to,” Cobia said. “The Society—and Chamber of Commerce—voted him the least-objectionable candidate. He was the least dirtbaggy-looking DM on the island. That’ll play well in photos.”
Hoase said he was both surprised and pleased by the honor.
“I’d never heard of a dive ambassador, now I am one,” he said. “There’s not much to it and it shouldn’t take much of my time. Mostly having my picture taken and signing stuff. And free beer.
“They want me to do a podcast or some such, too, but somebody’ll have to walk me through that,” Hoase said. “They were gonna gimme a shirt and a nametag, but that would’ve cost money, so they eighty-sixed the idea.”
Some residents were skeptical of the title.
“What’s the point? Tourists can’t come here now, and once they can, we don’t need a promotion—they’ll come flocking back anyways,” Val Schrader said. “I guess the vote did give people something to do. Now they can go back to drinking and fighting.
“Honestly, someone named Cousteau would have been better,” Schrader said. “But Gage was the best we could come up with. He was the only candidate no one hated.”
Others criticized the choice.
“It’s not fair, just forming a committee and taking a secret vote like that,” divemaster Lee Helm said. “Other deserving candidates weren’t notified. We weren’t given time to present our qualifications or campaign.
“People always liked Gage more than me,” Helm said. “It wasn’t an honest vote. We need a recount. And non-dive community members’ votes shouldn’t count.”
Others in the dive community dismissed Helm’s allegations.
“Lee needs to shut the hell up,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “The only votes he got were from non-scuba folks. People at the resorts, who know him, all hate his guts.”
Eagle Ray Cove, meanwhile, is making the most of Hoase’s new status.
“With Gage being the new face of Blacktip Island, that means more exposure for us,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “We won’t pay him any extra, of course, but his fame’ll make up for that. We’re gonna put a life-sized cutout of him at the airstrip, with a sign saying, ‘Eagle Ray Cove: home of the Scuba Ambassador.’”
Organizers hope a change in vocal format will once again fill the Eagle Ray Cove tiki bar with karaoke aficionados this Friday night. (photo courtesy of groothelm)
Blacktip Island’s Eagle Ray Cove resort will change its Karaoke Fridays to an all-Tuvan throat singing format tonight in an effort to revive dwindling attendance.
“Karaoke night’s always tied the island together, but with tourists still banned, it gets old, the same people singing the same songs,” resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “The last few Fridays we had three, maybe four people show up. That kills the vibe. And our alcohol sales.
“We tried doing a sing-in-the-language-of-your-choice version, but that was a train wreck,” Skerritt said. “Dermott Bottoms just got up there and babbled gibberish. Loudly. And off key. This way there’s no words. You just have to get the tune sort-of right.”
The karaoke DJ Alison Diesel said the idea is popular.
“We axed karaoke for two weeks to give everybody a chance to learn throat singing, and the response’s been bonkers,” she said. “We came up with the idea from a random online video. You can pick any song from the library, you just have to throat-sing it.
“It’s been a bonding experience, everybody learning a new skill at the same time,” Diesel said. “Folks are really looking forward to showing off on Friday night. And Gage Hoase’ll just sing in his normal voice.”
Island residents echoed Diesel’s sentiments.
“I’ve been practicing for weeks,” Christa Goby said. “It hurts to swallow right now, but my voice is spot on. People’re gonna hear ‘Strawberry Wine’ like they’ve never heard it.”
Some remained skeptical.
“I’ve always said there’s no way to make karaoke worse,” Reg Gurnard said. “Well, now Ali’s gone and done it. I’ll be down at the Ballyhoo, as far away from that nonsense as I can get.”
Diesel was unphased by the criticism.
“It’ll be cool to have a full tiki bar again,” she said. “Our sense of community’s been eroding lately. I’m way looking forward to the duets. I heard Marina and Cal practicing ‘Summer Nights’ yesterday and it sounded off-the-hook awesome.”
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Precipitation – none
Three Blacktip Island residents claim they saw a mermaid swimming off the end of the Eagle Ray Cove Resort dock Tuesday night. (photo courtesy of W. Carter)
Three Blacktip Island locals Tuesday reported sighting a mermaid swimming in Eagle Ray Cove, setting the small Caribbean island’s population buzzing this week.
“She was down at the end of The Cove’s dock, splashing around in them underwater lights,” longtime resident Dermott Bottoms said. “Long green tail and no top, just like all the books show.
“James Conlee and Lee Helm, they saw her, too. Just ask ‘em,” Bottoms said. “Soon as she saw us, though, she swam off right quick. Couldn’t get any photos. Always thought there was mermaids here. Now we have proof. And three eyewitnesses.”
The others supported Bottoms’ claim.
“We’d wandered down from the bar for a bit of fresh air,” Helm said. “We were standing there talking. James had just lit a smoke when we heard the splashing and looked over the edge. There she was, long, scaley tail and all.”
Some on the island questioned the story.
“Dermott and James wandered down from the bar and saw a mermaid?” Herring Frye said. “These are the same yahoos who claimed they saw a platypus behind the Sand Spit a while back. The common element here is heavy drinking. If it’s those two, you know alcohol was involved.
“They probably just some drunk tourist swimming in a long dress,” Frye said. “And as for her swimming away when she saw them, well Lee Helm has that effect on most women. Even when he’s not three-sheets-to-the-wind drunk.”
Others said the claim had merit.
“All kinds of old sailors’ tales about mermaids around Blacktip, y’know,” resident Antonio Fletcher said. “Got to be based on something. And no manatees or dugongs around there. Herring’s got no call to call Dermott and James wahoos.
“Not saying whether it was or wasn’t, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt,” Fletcher said. “No solid proof there’s a mermaid out there, but there’s no proof there’s not, either. And there’s three eye witnesses.”
The men vowed to produce evidence.
“We gonna take turns watching at the end of the dock, phone cameras ready,” James Conlee said. “Got some trail cams on order, too, so we can stake out all the docks in the cove.”
Eagle Ray Cove Resort, meanwhile, has launched nightly mermaid-lookout events on the dock. “We set up chairs and loungers right out at the end, where the underwater lights are,” ERC owner Rich Skerritt said. “The bar staff runs drinks and snacks down to anyone out there. And we have ‘I Saw the Mermaid’ t-shirts for sale in the lobby.”
Sunday, November 8, 2020
Precipitation – not today