Monthly Archives: June 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Precipitation – Rain soon come
Blacktip Island hopes to boost its flagging economy by luring vaccinated office workers to work remotely on the island during the pandemic. (photo courtesy of Leah Shore)
To boost its economy, Blacktip Island leaders this week announced a plan to allow international office workers who are fully-vaccinated against the COVID virus to work remotely on the small Caribbean island without a work permit.
“We’ve got to jumpstart things, financially, pronto,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “No telling when tourism’s coming back, so with all these folks around the world working from home, why not live in the Caribbean and soak up some sun while they’re at it?
“If they’re vaccinated, and can prove they don’t have The ‘Vid, they’re welcome,” Cobia said. “We’ll waive all visa and permit requirements, just come down, rent an apartment and spend money at the store and bars. And the restaurants. Both of them.”
Island businesses welcomed the plan.
“Blacktip’s COVID-free, and we need to make the most of that before we go bankrupt,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “We’re all tested and safe. As long as you are, too, ERD’s your huckleberry. Work in the morning, then dive in the afternoons. Hopefully we can fill our boats, or at least cover expenses.”
Many residents, though, questioned the idea for public health reasons.
“Any yahoo can get a fake vax card,” Angela Fisher said. “And just ‘cause you pass a screening doesn’t mean you can’t still carry the stuff. We’re safe now, but these immigrants could bring the plague down on us.”
Others were more concerned about emergency scenarios.
“Thing is, once you’re here, you’re stuck—you can’t just pop back to your country of origin,” Harry Wrasse said. “Sure, you get to work in paradise, but it’s a bit of a Hotel California situation—you can get here anytime, but your home authorities won’t let you leave.
“Also, what happens if you hurt or sick?” Wrasse said. “Marissa at the clinic is great, but she has limited supplies. You need a hospital, you’re screwed.”
Emergency planners criticized the plan’s timing.
“Height of hurricane season, and we’re bringing more people onto a small island?” Molly Miller said. “If a big storm comes, they, none of us, can get away. Never mind these extra folks putting a strain on our limited resources. The store shelves’re already half empty.”
Local merchants were not concerned.
“I can always order more food,” Peachy’s Groceries and Sundries owner Peachy Bottoms said. “Problem is, there’s not enough people on-island to buy what I have. Hell, send down all the people as you can. I’ll feed ‘em. And sell ‘em hurricane supplies, too.”
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Precipitation – Not happening
A cluster of condemned scuba cylinders was at the heart of a dump-wide fight Wednesday at Blacktip Island’s annual Dump-Off Repurposing Challenge at the small Caribbean island’s landfill. (photo courtesy of Jay Valve)
A melee among contestants at Blacktip Island’s 17th annual Dump-Off Repurposing Challenge Wednesday sent four people to jail, nine to the medical clinic and caused event organizers to cancel the contest.
“Everything was fine—we let contestants scope out the dump the day before, and off they went when we dropped the flag at dawn,” DORC chairperson Jay Valve said. “Then Linford Blenny and Edwin Chub, of all people, got in a scuffle over some condemned scuba cylinders and things spiraled from there.
“Next thing we knew, all the other contestants had joined in, whacking each other with bike wheels, bits of rotted roof tin, and anything else they could get their hands on,” Valve said. “It took us, and Rafe Marquette, a quarter of an hour to get everybody disarmed and disengaged. Dump-Offers are always keyed up and competitive, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Bystanders were shocked by the unexpected violence.
“We bring the kiddos every year so they can watch the DORCs in action,” Chrissy Graysby said. “It inspires them to be engineers. And garbage collectors. But now, they’re hiding under their beds and won’t stop crying. It’s frightening how a community event like this could erupt into a riot.
“Usually it’s quite Zen-like, with folks working all day to make something new and useful out of stuff someone else threw away,” Graysby said. “Last year, Clete Horne won with his lightsaber. Well sort of a lightsaber. It looked the part, but all it did was glow. And zap mosquitos. The little ones were so impressed. Now this.”
Island authorities arrested the riot’s instigators.
“Linford and Edwin were the first two I handcuffed,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “And Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee weren’t far behind. Other folks were just defending themselves, but those four lit the fuse by initiating multiple assaults.”
Blenny and Chub claimed innocence.
“I seen that scuba tank first and had my hand on it,” Blenny said. “Eyeballed it yesterday, then made a beeline to it when they dropped that flag. Next thing I know, little Edwin Chub’s walloping me with a set of handlebars and yelling I was taking what was his. Well, I walloped back, but good, with a busted rake. He had it coming, cheating like that.”
Chub denied the allegations.
“Linford was clearly in the wrong. I called dibs on the entire stack of cylinders as soon as the flag fell,” he said. “That counts. Yes, I pummeled him with the handlebars. And he’ll get an encore pummeling if he tries claim-jumping again.”
Event organizers are already studying safety measures for next year’s contest.
“Gonna come up with a hard-and-fast list of rules covering dibs, firsties and what have you for claiming items,” Valve said. “We want to get back to the days when folks’d calmly make a nice cooler out of an old fridge, or a fire pit from a washer drum. This is why we can’t repurpose nice stuff in the dump.”
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Precipitation – On the way
Cycling enthusiasts this week unveiled the Caribbean’s first underwater bicycle track, which winds through coral reefs on the island’s sheltered west coast, Blacktip Island Cycling Society officials announced Thursday.
“We all like biking, but Blacktip’s a tiny little rock and it gets awful boring after a while,” BICS president Billy Ray said. “Most of us’re scuba divers, too, so we figured, why not combine the two? I mean, folks ride bikes underwater as stunts all the time. We just expanded the idea to take full advantage of it.
“Started with us jumping bikes off Diddley’s Landing, then trying to pedal across the sand,” Ray said. “That put us in mind of a cross-country sort of course, only underwater. Pedaling in sand, you get bogged down pretty damn quick, so we laid out a crushed shell track. You can get some good speed up looping around them coral heads, depending on your bike and tank configuration.”
Group members are still refining their racing gear.
“People’re strapping dive weights to bottoms of their frames to keep the bikes on the track,” Chrissy Graysby said. “We’re wearing big-ass weight belts, too, for added traction. It’s a fine line between weighting and drag reduction.
“Skinny riders do best, duh, but we’re all monkeying with hydrodynamic suits and smaller scuba cylinders,” Graysby said. “Some racers are going with just a Speedo and a pony bottle. That can bite you though—you run out of air before you finish the course, you’re disqualified. And’ll probly drown if you don’t ditch your weights quick-like-the-bunny.”
Environmental activists decried the race course.
“This track is an absolute nightmare,” Blacktip Island REEF president Harry Pickett said. “We’re trying to protect the reefs, now there’s yahoos tearing around it on bikes, ripping up the ecosystem and trashing thousands of years of coral growth. You should see the ruts those damn tires are cutting across the reef.”
Other locals complained about the racer’s effect on underwater wildlife.
“Used to go out in the evening, catch dinner,” James Conlee said. “Now, Billy and them’ve scared off all the fish with this dumbassery. Had to buy dinner from the store all this past week. Cost me a bloody fortune.”
Club members say that criticism is unfounded.
“We don’t get close to coral. We made sure of that when we set up the course,” Leigh Shore said. “And any ruts get filled in with sand every time a storm comes through. Sure, the fish were spooked at first, but now they’re kind of curious and come check us out. There’s more fish than ever now. James’ll see. Eventually.
“Right now our focus’s on expanding the track,” Shore said. “We’re building bikes with steel frames so you don’t need to weight them down. And we’re gonna extend the course all the way around the island so we can have Tour de Blacktip races.”
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Precipitation – Not today