Tag Archives: Blacktip Island

Rude Dive Staffs Prompt Blacktip Island Cotillion Class

cotillion

Alison Diesel and Gage Hoase practice their quadrille Thursday evening at the Blacktip Island Heritage House. Dancing is one of many social skills being taught to island dive staff in a new cotillion class aimed at boosting tourism on the island. (photo courtesy of Silar)

Faced with a growing number of complaints about rude dive staff, Blacktip Island community leaders and etiquette activists have joined forces to create a cotillion program aimed at the Caribbean island’s divemasters.

“We got loads of guest complaints from every resort on the island,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “It ranged from not saying ‘hello,’ to sarcastic remarks, to snatching food from guests’ hands. Dive ops fire the bad apples, but the replacements’re just as bad.

“When word hit travel review sites, we knew we had to do something drastic,” Cobia said. “It was killing our tourism product.”

The solution was to recruit the island’s gentry.

“Jack could have been describing wild animals,” long-time resident Helen Maples said. “He asked if I might teach the rascals manners, deportment, dancing and other social graces.

“I was delighted! I’ve wanted to institute a regimen like this for years,” Maples said. “The next evening I lined up a dozen hostile scuba hippies, and whacked them with a ruler if they didn’t stand up straight.”

Cobia is cautiously optimistic about the course.

“Honestly, it’s a pilot project,” he said. “But if it works, we may expand it to include all resort workers, then airfield staff, then anyone else in the tourism industry.

“If it doesn’t work, it’s still fun to watch,” Cobia said. “Helen tells them to imagine their granny’s standing next to them. Then, if they so much as look sideways, TWHACK! Bruce Lee’d be jealous of how fast that ruler moves.”

Predictably, many divemasters were critical of the class.

“That bloody ruler hurts,” said Eagle Ray Divers’ Lee Helm. “It’s not right, requiring us to go there and be physically abused. Mrs. Maples is a sadist, she is.”

Maples was unapologetic about her methods.

“It’s a time-honored tradition. Or should be,” she said. “The ruler reminds them to wear shoes, to speak in complete, non-obscene sentences and to pass the salt and pepper together when a tablemate requests, “Would you please pass the salt?”

Some dive staff, though, say they enjoy cotillion.

“Lee’s a whiner,” said Eagle Ray Divers’ Alison Diesel. “It’s so cool when Gage, umm, I mean Mister Hoase, comes up and says, ‘Miss Diesel, may I have this dance?’ and I say, ‘Certainly, Mister Hoase.’”

Attendee Finn Kiick, of Club Scuba Doo, sees other positives.

“It’s goofy, sure, but you learn proper, formal dancing,” he said. “Women dig that crap. You’ll see DMs out cutting a rug at the Sand Spit pretty much any night of the week now, practicing.

“It’s value-added on the boats, too,” Kiick added. “Run out of stories to tell during a surface interval? Now you can entertain the guests with a waltz. Or a quadrille.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving

It’s Sharks vs. Jetfins in Blacktip Island Players’ “West Side Story”

sharks-vs-jets

Marina DeLow, right, performs ‘I Feel Pretty’ during the dress rehearsal of the Blacktip Island Community Players’ “West Side Story,” celebrating 50 years of recreational scuba diving from resorts on the Caribbean island’s west coast. (photo courtesy of Doris Blenny/BICP)

The Blacktip Island Community Players will perform their take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “West Side Story” Saturday evening at the island’s Heritage House. The performance celebrates 50 years of the recreational scuba industry on the Caribbean island.

“We usually go for something original,” director Doris Blenny said. “But this year we decided to reimagine a classic to honor the founding of Muddy Bottoms’ Double-Hose Divers all those years ago.

“We’re casting the Sharks and Jets as rival dive operations,” Blenny said. “It speaks to the competition between resorts that defines Blacktip Island. And with all the island’s scuba charter companies on its west side, well, it adds an extra layer that truly resonates.”

Many locals are eager to see the show.

“This is the sort of thing that really spotlights Blacktip’s vibrant thespian scene,” said island theater aficionado Frank Maples. “And Doris’ casting, as ever, is spot-on.”

Blenny chose this year’s performers exclusively from island dive staffs.

“We wanted realism,” she said. “And really, who can put all the yearning, the anger, the lusts of a young divemaster into a performance better than a divemaster, young or otherwise. You can see that especially in the Act I dive knife fight scene.

“Marina DeLow as Maria was an obvious choice, what with her beautiful, if off-key, lyric contralto voice,” Blenny said. “And the jump from ‘Marina’ to ‘Maria,’ well, it’s just one letter isn’t it?”

Other cast members include:

  • Lee Helm as Tony
  • Finn Kiick as Bernardo
  • Alison Diesel as Anita
  • Gage Hoase as Riff

“We respected the original score as much as we could, but we also tweaked some songs to be scuba-themed,” DeLow said. “We do the standard ‘Maria’ and ‘I Feel Pretty,’ but then we get jiggy a little with ‘Tonight’s Dive,’ and ‘(I Like To Be On) Blacktip.’ When Gage sings, ‘When you’re a Bottoms, you’re a Bottoms all the way,’ the crowd’ll go bonkers.”

The producers are encouraging audience members to dress in scuba-themed attire.

“Come as a divemaster, a tourist or even in vintage dive gear,” Blenny said. “We want theater-goers to become part of the spectacle. Muddy would have liked that.

“As ever, though, alcohol will not be allowed, and attendees will be frisked and given breathalyzer tests prior to admission,” Blenny added. “We’re not having a redux of the ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’ melee of three years ago.”

Proceeds from the show go to the Heritage House and to the Blacktip Island Divemasters Retirement Fund.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving

Blacktip Island Erupts In Decades-Long Family Feud

little-seoul

Some of the flare pistols confiscated by Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette during the current Bottoms-Conlee feud in Blacktip Island’s Little Seoul neighborhood. (photo courtesy of Sustructu)

A long-simmering family feud erupted in violence Thursday evening in Blacktip Island’s Little Seoul district, leaving three persons injured and several others emotionally scarred, island officials said.

“Things get ugly fast up in Koreatown,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Usually what happens there stays there, but this started at the public pier, then the fight spread to bars and work sites. I confiscated every flare gun on the island and they’re still shooting at each other.

“It started with James Conlee fishing at Diddley’s Landing, only he was in Dermott Bottoms’ corner spot,” Marquette said. “The families have unwritten rules for that kind of thing, to keep the peace. But James got him a snootfull of white rum and the veneer cracked.”

Community members say the feud brings back bad memories

“This is how the gang wars started ten years ago,” ­­­­­­­­­­local Cori Anders said. “Dermott’s daddy tossed his hand line too close to James’ daddy’s. Would’ve been no big deal, but Booger Bottoms ended up catching a big, fat snapper. Took months to end the violence, and grudges smoldered for years.”

Island authorities say residents should avoid the neighborhood until the violence can be contained.

“We don’t want bystanders injured by crossfire or drive-bys,” Marquette said. “Well, technically pedal-bys, since all the Bottoms and Conlees have had their driver’s licenses revoked for drunk driving.

“I’m up there half the day and all the night to keep a lid on it,” IPC Marquette said. “We’re trying to broker peace, but James and Dermott aren’t making it easy.”

Each side claims the other is to blame.

“Insult to my family, you know. Things were settled, now this,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Daddy’s rolling over in his grave right now. That’s his hard-won fishing spot.”

“We won’t forgive and we won’t forget,” James Conlee said. “Them Bottoms crossed our lines years ago. I just balanced the scales.”

Locals worry about safety island-wide.

“Rosie and Peachy Bottoms were at the Ballyhoo last night, minding their own business, when Jesse Conlee busted in with a flare pistol,” resident Val Schrader said. “Popped a flare straight down the bar at them. No one was hurt, but it cleared the Ballyhoo right quick.

“My heart goes out to Rosie Bottoms and ‘Cephus Conlee.,” Schrader said. “They got married a month ago, they live in the middle house in Little Seoul and’ve been catching pure hell from both sides. Habitat for Humanity’s sitting on ‘G,’ waiting on ‘O’ for the gunfire to stop so they can go in and rebuild.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Divers Scour Blacktip Island Reefs To Save Lead Weights

reef-cleanup

Some of the lead scuba diving weights retrieved Friday from Blacktip Island’s Pinnacle Reef by volunteer cleanup divers. (photo courtesy of Finn Kiick)

Blacktip Island environmentalists Friday launched a schedule for weekly volunteer reef cleanups aimed at ridding the Caribbean island’s dive sites of lead scuba weights.

“December starts high season for dropped weights,” cleanup organizer Ham Pilchard said. “Resort divers tend to be heavy anyway, and when the water temps dip, they squeeze into their thick wetsuits and grab a ton of weights.

“There’s lead dropping all over the reef, crashing coral and leeching poison into everything down there,” Pilchard said. “Integrated weight pockets? Try ‘weight dispensing units.’ We get divers whacked by falling lead at least once a week.”

The initiative given a boost by island dive operations complaining about a shortage of weights for their guests.

“Coral gets damaged, sure, but it got to the point where we didn’t have enough lead to get all our divers underwater,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “People can’t dive, we have to refund their money.

“The Marine Parks folks couldn’t keep up with all those sunken weights,” Latner said. “Then Ham had the idea of making a game of it and things really took off.”

Blacktip Island dive operations let weight collectors dive free on their dive boats.

“We give ‘em a mesh sack and a lift bag and let ‘em go to town,” Club Scuba Doo dive chief Finn Kiick said. “We can count it as a Search and Recovery dive for an Advanced or specialty card, too. Plus, we pay a 10-cent-per-pound bounty.

“The hot dive sites are the most target rich,” Kiick said. “You find other stuff, too. Cameras. Knives. Wedding rings. Gold teeth. Glass eyes. We return what we can to the owners. What they can’t return gets sold at resort gift shops. Or online.”

The cleanups’ profit motive has drawn sharp criticism from some.

“Put all the lipstick on it you want, these people are scavengers,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort guest Buddy Brunnez said. “They’re selling stuff that isn’t theirs after, at best, a half-assed search for the owners. How hard do you really think they’re looking for who lost a gold ring?”

Industry professionals were quick to defend the sales.

“Ten cents a pound doesn’t really turn many heads,” Latner said. “But add the incentive of being able to make some real money through an online auction? Our boats are full, and so are our weight bins. Is that legal? That’s the divers’ concern – we get our weights back.

“We have one of our instructors working up a Weight Retrieval Diver distinctive specialty course, too,” Latner said. “Four dives, and bring back at least 50 pounds of lead, and the card’s yours. People are lining up to take it.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving

Mud-Slinging Contest Winner Will Be Blacktip Island’s Mayor

mud-slinging

A hastily-dug mud pit outside Blacktip Island’s Heritage House will be the site of today’s tie-breaking mayoral mud-slinging contest. (Photo courtesy of Led Waite/Blacktip Island Elections Office)

A constitutional crisis was averted Thurssday when election officials invoked a little-known amendment to make literal mud-slinging determine who will be Blacktip Island’s mayor after the candidates tied in the popular vote.

Incumbent Jack Cobia and challenger Antonio Fletcher finished the election with four votes each. At noon today the men will strip to their shorts, stand 10 paces apart in a mud pit at the island’s Heritage House and throw sludge at each other.

“Blacktip Island’s founders knew these races would get ugly,” Elections Supervisor Ledford Waite said. “They put in an appropriate tie-breaker that would reflect a messy political campaign and entertain the voters at the same time.

“The constitution say the mayor needs ‘to have a strong arm,’” Waite said. “It also states that, in the event of a draw, throwing mud establishes that ability, as well as the grit to take a shot to the face and stay standing.”

The last-minute announcement had community leaders scrambling.

“We had to dig a mud pit quick-like-the-bunny,” said Public Works chief Stoney MacAdam. “The tricky part was mixing the mud to the right consistency. Too wet, it won’t throw. Too dry, it won’t stick.

“Had to slap together stands for 100 people, too,” MacAdam said. “Legally, we have to provide a clear viewing opportunity for the entire population so they can witness the electoral process first-hand and see the election’s not rigged.”

The last candidate standing will be declared the winner. Election observers have been on site since Wednesday to ensure no rocks, coral or other contraband are hidden in the mud.

“Last recorded mud-off was the infamous Skerritt-Bottoms contest of 1804,” Waite said. “Booger Bottoms’ supporters snuck loads of iguana guano into his section of the pit so he could throw that at Ferris Skerritt.

“The plan backfired, though, since Booger had to get hip-deep in the muck to throw it,” Waite said. “He ended up with more on him than he got on Ferris. It cost him the election.”

Antonio Fletcher was confident in his chances Friday.

“I’m not scared, you know,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Jack, he cheats at dominoes and everything else, but no way he can cheat at this in front of God and everyone.”

Jack Cobia was equally optimistic.

“If ‘Tonio thinks I’ll take it easy on him ‘cause he’s an old man, he’s got another thing coming,” Cobia said. “It’s my duty to whomp him. No way some non-alcoholic-beer drinker’s gonna represent this island.”

Island voters are eager for the contest.

“It’s perfect,” said resident Finn Kiick. “Jack and Antonio’ve been slinging figurative mud at each other for months. Time they finally used the real stuff.

“I voted for ‘Tonio, but my money’s on Jack in this one,” Kiick said. “He played Little League back in the day, and he’s still got that outfielder’s arm. He throws with his fingers together, ‘Tonio’s toast.”

1 Comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Islanders Say ‘Whatever’ To Passive-Aggression Workshop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A pink railroad vine blossoms at Blacktip Island’s Blacktip Haven resort, site of the cancelled passive-aggression management workshop. (photo courtesy of Leigh Shore)

A Blacktip Association for Mental Health-sponsored passive aggression and sarcasm retreat this weekend at Blacktip Haven resort has been cancelled due to local indifference, organizers said.

“Passive aggression is the monster on Blacktip Island, gnawing away at the community’s well being,” psychologist and BAMH facilitator Leigh Shore said. “This retreat was supposed to be a lifeline for islanders identify to and properly deal with hostility regulation.

“Now, with everyone boycotting, we’re stuck in the same old snarky mess,” Shore said. “What can I say? You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped.”

Some locals said the lack of turnout was due to confusion about the workshop’s goals.

“”I don’t know why Leigh’s so upset,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “The flyer read ‘Passive Aggressive Workshop.’ You couldn’t tell whether it was for or against passive aggression.

“I mean, if she was gonna teach how to get better at it, I was all in,” Diesel said. “But two days of being nice to a roomful of jerks? Whatever.”

Other locals voiced broader criticism.

“Some yahoo gonna tell us how to live better? Not happening, you know,” local handyman Dermott Bottoms said. “It attacks our culture, our way of life.”

Island mayor Jack Cobia agreed.

“We Blacktip Islanders don’t suffer from passive aggression. We quite enjoy it,” Cobia said. “It’s not a disorder. It’s a coping mechanism, the survival skill that allows us to get along.

“As for no one going to this seminar-thingy, I’m not losing any sleep over it,” Cobia said.

Workshop organizers, meanwhile, still hope to attract participants.

“I’m not mad,” Shore said. “All it takes is one attendee to make this a success. If the workshop doesn’t go this weekend, we’ll do it next weekend. And the next. We’ll run it every weekend until someone shows up.”

Locals were not swayed.

“No one’s got time for that damn class,” Bottoms said. “And if Leigh tries to make us go, well, she’ll see some active aggression.”

1 Comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Island To Get Traffic Signals

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A motorcycle speeds past one of Blacktip Island’s intersections at rush hour Thursday.

The Blacktip Times offices are closed this week in honor of The Battle of Blacktip Remembrance Week. The editors are reposting an earlier story that addresses a still-unresovled safety issue on the small Caribbean island. – the editors

Citing growing safety concerns, the Department of Public Works will install traffic lights at both of Blacktip Island’s intersections this week.

“This has been a critical situation for a while,” Public Works director Dusty Rhodes said. “There’s the road around the island, and there’s the one across it. Where they come together, you’ve got disaster waiting to happen.”

Not all locals are happy with the decision.

“We hardly use the existing stop signs,” long-time resident Frank Maples said. “There’s what, 20 motor vehicles on island? I don’t recall any of them smashing into one another. If these lights go up, the next thing you know the government will be paving the roads, then painting stripes on them, then giving them names. It’s a slippery slope. People come to Blacktip to get away from that sort of rubbish.”

Rhodes disagreed.

“The stop signs aren’t working. Last year alone we had three near-misses . . . that we know of. We don’t want that to escalate, especially with the holiday season on us. These roads may not have names, but I assure you they’ll have traffic signals. We’re installing cameras, too, so we can keep an eye on things.

“Our job is to bring this island into the 21st Century, kicking and screaming if necessary. If we step on a few toes in the process, well, so be it.”

Police officials confirmed the Caribbean island has seen an uptick in the number of vehicle accidents in recent months.

“All have been one-car affairs, usually on Friday and Saturday nights, but you can’t argue with the statistics,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “The trees and power poles are taking a terrible beating.”

The most recent incident involved a lone scooter rider who ran a stop sign and sped into Eagle Ray Sound, IPC Marquette said.

“He blew through the intersection full tilt. Zoom! Splash! We had to call scuba rescue to pull him out. He nearly drowned.”

Rhodes would not comment on rumors his department would also be erecting nets beyond each intersection to contain other wayward motorists before they reached the water.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean