Category Archives: best scuba diving novels

Local Author Releases New Novel’s Cover and First Chapter

SRF cover - high res

Blacktip Island author Tim W. Jackson’s new novel, available for preorder, will be released September 18. The first chapter is available free via the the cover/link to the right. –>

Blacktip Island author Tim W. Jackson today unveiled the cover image of his forthcoming novel, The Secret of Rosalita Flats, in anticipation of the book’s mid-September release.

The book is Jackson’s second Blacktip Island-based humor novel. His first, Blacktip Island, was a Best Book Awards finalist for humor.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats continues the whackadoodle island adventures started in Blacktip Island,” Jackson said. “This cover gives everyone a taste of what the book’s like before it comes out. A literary amuse bouche, if you will.

“No one’s innocent on this little rock, but the names have been changed anyway. Hopefully everyone’ll get a good laugh.”

Early reviews have been positive.

Reader Views says, “From the first few sentences, Jackson’s sense of humor hooks you, and you know it’s going to be a fun ride.” The Manhattan Book Review calls The Secret of Rosalita Flats “a humorous, slow-burn mystery that will consume the reader.”

Local reaction, however, was mixed.

“I’m guess looking forward to reading this one,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “I don’t really have anything else to do. Worst case, I can use it as a coaster.”

Others were less upbeat.

“Author? That guy’s not an author,” Rosie Bottoms said. “He’s just some half-crazy dive hippy who sits around and makes up lies about us. Can’t believe he’s doing this again, y’know. That last book had the whole island looking for tar and feathers.”

Others concurred.

“I’m still peeved at how he portrayed me in that last book,” Payne Hanover said. “He casts me as some dissolute dilettante again, well, I know where that miscreant lives.”

A few residents dismissed the cover reveal as cheap showmanship.

“Don’t see no book. Just a pretty picture. That somebody else did,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Man wants to impress me, he needs to show the whole damn book he claims he wrote.”

The Secret of Rosalita Flats will be released September 18.

Ebook preorders are available via Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BQCH6TJ) and other online retailers. Physical preorders are available via Jackson’s website (http://www.timwjackson.com/ ).

The first chapter is available free via The Blacktip Times (click cover/link to the right –>).

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Wednesdays suck. Dolphins make them better!

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👀

SRF

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August 25, 2020 · 2:12 pm

Blacktip Island Divers Encounter Kraken During Night Dive

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A photo of the creature  Blacktip Island night divers claim was a juvenile kraken responsible for attacking them Wednesday night. (photo courtesy of Richard Zerpe)

Scuba divers off Blacktip Island’s Diddley’s Landing public pier Wednesday night claim to have encountered a kraken, a giant, squid-like creature long thought a legend.

“There’s been stories of krakens in the deep water off that coast, but nobody really believed them,” Angela Fisher said. “But that night, during the dive, a couple of us felt something squishy grabbing at our legs. Then, right by the pier, this big squid-thing appeared out of nowhere, all tentacles flailing and beak snapping.

“Joey Pompano pulled out his knife, and me and Alison Diesel purged our alternate airs at it,” Fisher said. “It freaked at the bubbles and inked, and we dragged ourselves up the pier steps quick-like-the-bunny. Scariest thing that ever happened to me on a dive.”

Divers say the creature matched what they know of kraken.

“It was textbook kraken, just smaller and more skittish,” Alison Diesel said. “It must’ve just hatched out. That’s why it was so small. And why no one’s seen it before. And why it spooked so quick. It had to have been behind us during the dive, testing us with its tentacles. Then it went full-Cthulhu when it realized we were getting out.

“I it’ll learn as it grows. That’s the scary part,” Diesel said. “Before long before it won’t b safe to dive on Blacktip. And it’ll go after boats, too. This is way-spooky stuff.”

Some on the island, however, questioned the sighting.

“A kraken? Crack of their butts is more like it,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “If there were a giant squid, and if one were on the reef, there’d be no fish left. And this was a night dive. They probably just saw some reef squid or an octopus.

“And knowing that bunch, they’d been smoking God-knows-what before they jumped in the water,” Mojarra added. “Tentacles brushing their legs? That was probably them kicking the hell out of sea plumes.”

The divers defended their claims.

“I know octopus, and that was no octopus,” Pompano said. “It charged us. Eyes flashing. I could see the beak snapping two, three feet in front of my face. It was like that scene from ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’

“We reckon it just got here, that’s why no one else’s seen it,” Pomano said. “We got lucky. What if purging a reg doesn’t scare it off next time?”

Several dive resorts plan to capitalize on the sighting once tourists return to the island.

“Sure, there’s no such thing as a kraken and divers are safe on our reefs,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “But Eagle Ray Cove’s gonna run special Kraken dive charters. For an upcharge, of course. And Finn down at Club Scuba Doo, he sent off a proposal for a Kraken Diver specialty course. He’s just waiting for approval.

“God bless Angela and those knuckleheads,” Cobia said. “When tourists come back, we’re gonna make up for lost time. And income.”

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Blacktip Island Sports Fans Build Human Foosball Court

human foosball

After Blacktip Island’s sole table soccer set was destroyed, game enthusiasts created a life-sized court to accommodate human players strapped to PVC poles. (photo courtesy of Alex Proimos)

A group of Blacktip Island game enthusiasts this week constructed a life-sized foosball court designed to use people as the on-board figures after the island’s sole table-soccer table broke.

“The table football game at Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort finally disintegrated from the salt air, but lots of people still wanted to play,” Payne Hanover said. “Also, a lot of us were looking for a quarantine project, so rebuilding the game in life-sized proportions seemed like the logical way to go.

“Peachy Bottoms at the store donated the plywood for the walls and the poles,” Hanover said. “We set it up by the landing strip—that was the only cleared spot that was big enough.”

Rules are much the same as traditional table football, organizers said.

“We Velcro the on-court players’ arms to the horizontal poles and chuck a soccer ball in with them,” Dusty Blenny said. “They can’t kick the ball unless one of the players outside whacks the pole they’re strapped to.

“We wanted to be able to spin the poles, but we haven’t figured out the mechanics of that yet,” Blenny said. “It’s still on the drawing board, but it involves ropes and pullies and lots of Dramamine.”

Players say the games have gone well so far.

“We use standard pick-up team rules,” Wendy Beaufort said. “Whoever turns up plays, with each ‘player’ taking turns picking team members and assigning them to whichever poles.

“We take regular beer breaks, too, since this is still, at heart, a drinking game.” Beaufort said. “And if more people show up than there are spots on the field, we allow substitutions, too.”

The game is not without its drawbacks, some said.

“Your arms get damned tired strapped to that pole,” Hugh Calloway said. “There’s also nothing you can do to block a ball to the crotch. We keep punking Lee Helm that way, but the dumbass hasn’t figured it out yet and keeps coming back for more.

“With the wall, it’s also tough to light the court to play at night,” Calloway said. “We lined up cars and turned on the headlights, but those 4-foot-high walls block most of it. Payne’s working on scaffolding to hang reflectors to angle the light in.”

Some on the small Caribbean island scoffed at the idea.

“I don’t really see the point, but at least it keeps them off the road. For the most part,” Frank Maples said. “End of the day, I guess it doesn’t make any less sense than anything else does on this crazy island. So long as it doesn’t interfere with airplanes taking off or landing, I suppose it’s harmless.”

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Blacktip Island Kicks Off Inaugural Mosquito Day Festivities

mosquito day

Blacktip Island residents will celebrate the small Caribbean island’s recent surge in mosquito to boost community spirits after months of cursing the insects. (photo courtesy of James Gathany)

Blacktip Island residents, inundated by the rising number of mosquitos on the small Caribbean island, will join together midday Saturday for the inaugural Mosquito Day festival at Diddley’s Landing public pier, festival organizers said.

“With the COVID quarantines in place, the bug spray plane can’t get over here from Tiperon,” chamber of commerce president Led Waite said. “A few months without spray and the island’s just eat-up with skeeters. You got to slather on two layers of repellant just to go outside. It got damned depressing.

“We figured if we can’t beat them, we might as well embrace them,” Waite said. “And there’s usually a nice onshore breeze at Diddley’s Landing, so that’ll keep the worst of them away. Folks’ll be able to relax and enjoy actually being outside without getting bit.”

Organizers say the festival will appeal to all ages.

“We’ll have food and drink stands, of course, and live music. But we’ll have games for the kiddos, too,” Dusty Blenny said. “There’ll be DEET misting stations to make sure everyone’s protected. The little ones just love running through that. And zipping down the bug repellant slip-n-slide and into the sea.

“There’ll also be a ‘pin the proboscis on the belly’ game, where blindfolded kiddos wear a pointy nose and see who can get best poke on a rubber mannequin from the clinic,” Blenny said. “We expect everyone will have a cracking good time.”

In the evening, the festival will shift to more adult-oriented activities.

“We will have tables set up all ‘round, with every sort of liquor available, for a mosquito-themed cocktail-making contest,” Reg Gurnard said. “The drinks may contain anything the contestants want, with the stipulation they must be sipped through a straw. Preference will be given to red cocktails. Extra points will be awarded to any drinks that buzz.

“Mid-afternoon the live music will commence,” Gurnard said. “Local favorites Effing Zeagles and The Social Morays, and Young Jacques and the Double Hose will all perform. There will also be door prizes for attendees with the most mosquito bites, the biggest welt, and the worst allergic reaction.”

Some residents said the festival might be a sign of things to come.

“If this gig picks up peoples’ spirits like I think it will, we could make it a regular thing,” Palometa Fischer said. “The no-see-ums are hell, too—we’ve been spraying our window screens with diesel to keep the little suckers out. We could have a no-see-um festival next month. Or an all-inclusive pain-in-the-butt biting insect fête to cover all the bases.”

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Blacktip Island Scuba Divers Create Underwater Sharks-and-Minnows League

uw sharks and minnows

Scuba diver “minnows” Gage Hoase (left) and Ginger Bass race for the safety of a nearby coral head Thursday afternoon during a game of “sharks and minnows.” (photo courtesy of Diego Delso)

Blacktip Island’s scuba-diving residents, deprived of tourists and other island visitors since March, this week created an underwater sharks-and-minnows league to add variety to their diving activities.

“We’re all doing lots of recreational diving these days to stave off boredom, but diving the same sites was getting pretty stale,” Gage Hoase said. “For a laugh one day, Jerrod tried to keep Joey Pompano from getting to the boat’s boarding ladder. Other people laughed and joined in and it turned into an impromptu keep-away game.

“Next day, everybody started playing tag underwater, so we formalized some rules and voila, we had a thing,” Hoase said. “It’s the same rules as above water, or in a pool. Mostly. Divers try to get from one coral head to the next, with the ‘shark’ in between. When the shark bangs his tank it’s ‘shark attack’ time, and the minnows have to get past him without getting tagged.”

Players say the action can get intense.

“It gets damned competitive down there,” Ginger Bass said. “People you’d never suspect of being gamers get super aggressive. And there’s always arguments about whether somebody was actually tagged. It’s hard to tell, sometimes, when you’re wearing a wetsuit. A couple of times we had to end the game so people could go to the surface and argue over who did, or didn’t get tagged.”

Some on the small Caribbean island raised safety concerns.

“These people are grabbing and clawing at one another 30 feet underwater. Eventually someone’ll get hurt,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “Somebody accidentally snags a regulator hose or bumps someone’s tank valve while they’re playing grab-ass, that could mean serious trouble.

“The only medical infrastructure on this little island are me and the clinic, and we have no way to evacuate anyone off island, Grasby said. “Blacktip is not the place you want to get hurt. Especially now, and for such a silly reason.”

Others said the nurse’s fears were unfounded.

“People get into the game, sure, but we’re all careful not to be stupid,” Jay Valve said. “If a reg comes out, all action stops until the diver gets it back. And we do air checks between each round.

“The real medical issue is what would happen if we all didn’t play this game,” Valve said. “it’s social interaction that doesn’t involve drinking, and folks blow off a ton of steam with this.  Marissa’s not trained to deal with the mental health issues if we all sat around doing nothing. Or diving the same old sites the same old way.”

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Blacktip Island’s Stargazers Launch Island’s First Astronomy Club

BI astronomy society

The Milky Way’s galactic arm stretches across Blacktip Island’s Eagle Ray Cove Wednesday night. A group of amateur astronomers has banded together to form the island’s first astronomy club. (photo of Kristian Pikner)

An informal group of astronomy enthusiasts this week joined forces to form the small Caribbean island’s first official astronomy club to alleviate boredom while tourism is derailed due to COVID-related border closings.

“Everybody was sitting around, just staring into space one night after the Ballyhoo closed, and the idea hit us,” Blacktip Island Astronomy Society president Cal Batten said. “We figured we might as well watch stars together since we were doing it anyway after the bars close.

“There’s too many lights around buildings, though, so we meet out on the airstrip,” Batten said. “Everybody brings a folding lounge chair and their beverage of choice and we stay up most of the night watching the stars, hoping for a comet, that sort of thing.”

Society members say the club is a way to better themselves.

“I was going to learn a language, but this is less stressful and more useful,” Cori Anders said. “Plus, you can drink while you do it. It’s encouraged, actually. And it’s an opportunity to learn something new.

“Like, I know I’m a Sagittarius, but wasn’t sure what that meant,” Anders said. “So hopefully this’ll give me some insight into that.”

Others echoed Anders’ sentiments.

“I’m never sure which stars are which, or what people are talking about,” Lee Helm said. “But I do like laying on my back and watching the stars spin. You feel safe in a group. Unless the constable shows up.”

Island authorities are tolerant of the group’s activities, to a point.

“Club members are free to use the landing strip, provided they police all garbage when they leave,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “They also have to be gone at first light so they don’t interfere with arriving aircraft. Anyone laying on the runway at dawn will be arrested, be they conscious or otherwise. And they have been. Not to mention anyone by name, but his initials are Dermott Bottoms.”

Club officers include: Cal Batten, president; Marina DeLow, vice president; Peachy Bottoms, secretary; and Reg Gurnard, bartender.

The club’s informal structure is its greatest strength, members said.

“Folks who know about stars and stuff teach the rest of us,” Alison Diesel. “The other night, Cal brought out his big telescope to give us all cool views of Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. And James Conlee, he swears he saw Uranus.”

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Blacktip Island Scuba Operation Touts Underwater COVID Cure

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Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick claims his mix of exotic breathing gas and deep dives has eradicated the COVID19 virus on the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of Rusty Goby)

A Blacktip Island scuba company Wednesday began administering what it calls prophylactic COVID19 treatments to island residents via compressed gas combined with hyperbaric activity.

“We use a special breathing mix that zaps the virus,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “Then we take you down to around 120 feet, and the pressure squeezes what’s left of it out of your body.

“We charge extra for the charter, but it’s well worth it,” Kiick said. “University tests prove this works, and so far we have a 100 percent success rate.”

Some in the island’s scientific community disputed Kiick’s claims.

“There’s no test from any university in the world that supports Finn’s snake-oil treatment,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip biology chair Ernesto Mojarra. “He’s giving people who-knows-what to breathe, then taking them down deeper than he’d ever take a dive guest. He’s going to get people hurt. Or worse.”

Other contested Kiick’s success rate.

“He’s claiming a perfect cure rate after he’s tried his boondoggle on what, four, five people?” Elena Havens said. “That’s an awfully small sampling. Oh, and no one on Blacktip’s tested positive for the virus. Pretty easy to claim success when there’s no virus on the island to begin with. It’s like me saying snapping my fingers keeps tigers away.”

Kiick defended his claims

“Elena’s right: there is no virus on Blacktip,” he said. “That just proves the treatment works. We’re keeping the island virus free. And there’s been no complaints, so that says we’re doing something right.”

Most treatment recipients were pleased with the results.

“I could feel the gas working right away,” Rusty Goby said. “A couple of breaths and I got all lightheaded. Then Finn took me down deep and all the colors brightened and swirled and held me close. I could feel the dead virus oozing out of my pores. Or something oozing out, anyway.

“And I’ve felt great ever since,” Goby said. “I went back for three more treatments, just like Finn prescribed. Whatever’s in that breathing mix really works. I may make it a weekly thing.”

Others questioned the treatment efficacy.

“Finn talks about the gas mix being a trade secret, but I think he just shoots a little flavored oxygen in the nitrox,” Alison Diesel said. “Then he charges triple the rack rate for a one-tank dive. I mean, I was goofed and all, but I can’t say I feel any different than before. Except I have weird dreams now. And that was after just one session.”

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Blacktip Island Foil Man Race Will Social Distance Runners

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Eagle Ray Cove will be the site of the first leg of Saturday’s delayed Blacktip Island Tin Man mini-triathlon. (photo courtesy of Christina Mojarra)

Blacktip Island’s annual Foil Man mini-triathlon, postponed due to COVID19 quarantine orders in May, will take place Saturday morning with social-distance protocols in place, organizers said.

“Racers are eager to compete, but we had to find a way to do it safely,” Rum Runners athletic club president Kay Valve said. “We were going to do it remote on Zoom, but that seemed pretty hollow. What we’re doing instead is having one individual start every five minutes. This way racers can sort of see each other, but not get too close.

“We’ll also have marshals all along the course to make sure racers maintain their distancing throughout the race,” Valve said. “The big concern is one racer getting in another’s slipstream and getting a snootful of any kind of germs that person’s carrying.”

Racers had mixed emotions about the protocols.

“It’s not ideal, but at least we can still have the race in person,” Rocky Shore said. “We’re still racing against each other, just not neck-and-neck. The only other option was to cancel an island tradition. And at this point, we all really need a pick-me-up.”

As ever, the race will feature a swim across Eagle Ray Cove, a bike ride from Club Scuba Doo to Diddley’s Landing public pier, then a run to the Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort bar.

“We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible, or as normal as things get on this little rock,” race marshal Ernestine Bass said. “We’ll have GPS trackers on all contestants to ensure distancing, and proctors on motorcycles will be able to zip to the site of any distancing issues. If someone starts to overtake, they’ll have to run in place, with their personal timer stopped, to re-establish a safe distance.

“There won’t be any big, dramatic finish, but there will be adrawn-ourt award ceremony that’ll build lots of tension before the winners are announced,” Bass said. “We’ll set the trophies out by the pool and let the winners go get their own when their name’s called.”

Organizers said there are also protocols in place to protect spectators.

“There’s giant fans installed on parts of the course where people are likely to gather or where trees grow close to the road,” proctor Christina Mojarra said. “Any place where there’s a potential for low air movement, we’ll create our own wind to diffuse any potential airborne virus hot spots.”

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