Sunday, April 9, 2023
Precipitation: Not a chance
Sunday, April 9, 2023
Precipitation: Not a chance
A Blacktip Island entrepreneur this week released the ‘Jacques,’ a line of self-driving underwater diver propulsion devices, sparking controversy among the small Caribbean island’s scuba-diving guests and dive staffs.
“This is the wave of the future,” Bamboo You owner Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said. “We can either get out in front of it, or drown in it. Divers today don’t want to kick. They just want to look at fish. The ‘Jacques’ scooter lets them do that.
“With this new generation of DPVs, you just carabiner yourself to it with the included ‘Jacques Strap,’ and it’ll take you on a tour of the reef at whatever speed you want,” Plank said. “It’s got terrain sensors, and all the island dive sites have been programmed into its GPS. And they’re made of 100-percent-recycled water bottles, and use green batteries.”
Dive staff had mixed opinions about the devices.
“Doc gave each dive company one of these new gizmos so we could lead dives with ‘em,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “They’re pretty bad-ass, looks- and performance-wise. Even if he is just using us for marketing. I can chase king-hell out of any fish on the reef.”
Others were alarmed by the scooters.
“These things’ll put us all out of jobs,” Blacktip Haven divemaster Booger Bottoms said. “Pretty soon all the guests’ll have them and they won’t need us. Ol’ Doc’s already working on an app that’ll give a running commentary about what critters they’re seeing on the dive. This’s an existential threat to our way of life.”
Some users complained of safety issues.
“I was out on Wahoo Reef this morning on a Jacques, and it self-steered me into three, four coral heads,” Joey Pompano said. “BAM! I’m still bleeding from the last one. You have no idea where that thing’ll take you. It ran into other divers, too. I tried to explain it was the scooter, not me, but folks weren’t having it.
“The really scary thing, though, was Finn up at Club Scuba Doo had a Jacques blow up mid-dive,” Pompano said. “Not sure what a ‘green battery’ is, but you overload ‘em, they’ll explode, right in your face. There’s also been people hacking these things and sending divers all over creation.”
Plank brushed aside those concerns.
“Sure, we’re working out a few kinks, but this is still a better DPV that anything else on the market,” he said. “As for putting folks out of work, they just need to take advantage of the new opportunities the Jacques will create.”
Plank would neither confirm nor deny reports of Jacques ramming multiple snorkelers, and singling out young children in particular.
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Local business leaders Thursday announced plans for an underwater amusement park off Blacktip Island’s sheltered west coast as a way to attract more scuba diving guests to the small Caribbean island.
“Guests keep complaining diving’s too much of a Type-B-personality activity,” de facto island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Problem is, they keep trying to make it more exciting by going too deep and getting hurt. That’s bad for business.
“Others have just stopped diving because they say it’s boring,” Cobia said. “Either way, our diver numbers are down the last few years. We had to do something to make scuba exciting again. That’s when we reached out to local engineers to install thrill rides on our reefs.”
Island ride designers jumped at the challenge.
“This is a great opportunity to do something that’s never been done before,” island handyman Alf Flagg said. “We’re working on underwater-specific prototypes now, and hope to begin construction by year’s end. We’ll start with a carousel, and whack-a-jawfish booths, then add a channel crab-themed Scrambler and an anemone-themed Tilt-A-Whirl.
“The capper will be a tubular steel coaster with loops and spirals,” Flagg said. “The rides’ll move slower underwater, sure, but we’ll be chumming with fish guts to attract sharks, so the adrenalin rush’ll still be there. We’ll have dive staff shooting spear guns at the rides, too, to add more excitement.”
Opponents focused on the plan’s potential environmental impact.
“Silt from drilling pylons for all these rides will kill coral,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “Plus, the construction noise’ll scare away all the fish. Then there’s the issue of petroleum grease leaching from the rides and devastating the reefs. Short term, it may attract divers, but long term, it’ll utterly destroy the environment. And get divers hurt.
“They’re trying to turn the reefs into a playground,” Schrader said. “Despite what Jack says, people don’t come here for that. They come to Zen out underwater. And it’s no coincidence Alf is Jack’s cousin. And uncle.”
Cobia refuted those claims.
“Try to find someone on this little rock that’s not related to someone else. I’ll wait,” he said. “And as for safety, reef sharks aren’t really dangerous, and staff’ll be trained to shoot spears near—not at—divers. And all the divers will have signed waivers, so we’re covered there.
“If Val thinks folks come here to Zen out, she’s never met our divers,” Cobia said. “They’re competitive as hell. Our bariatric chamber stats prove it. We just need to harness that. This market tested of the charts.”
Island residents were cautiously optimistic about the project.
“For all the talk of excitement, I like that they’ll have a relaxing Nautilus submarine tour down the deep wall,” Chrissy Graysby said. “And a Captain Nemo’s mine train in the shallows for the kiddos. Me? I plan to kneel in the sand next to the rides and watch all the fish that come in every time a diver pukes through their regulator.”
Filed under Scuba Diving, Caribbean, best scuba diving novels
Sunday, March 26, 2023
Precipitation: Meh. Probly not
An unauthorized radio signal, transmitted underwater from an unknown source, angered scuba divers on Blacktip Island this week due to its use of unpopular pop music standards.
“It’s a constant stream of Bananarama, Justin Bieber and the Spice Girls,” visiting diver Chip Pompano said. “If there’s a jukebox in Hell, this is it. And it doesn’t stop, even on night dives. I’m to the point I’d rather not dive than be subjected to that crap.
“I’d rather just stay on Tiperon, even though the reefs are trashed there,” Pompano said. “The diving sucks, but at least it’s quiet.”
Island authorities are aggressively investigating the transmissions.
“Whoever’s broadcasting this music is doing so illegally without a broadcasting license,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Our immediate goal’s to locate the transmission source and shut it down. It’s proving difficult to trace, though, and we’re convinced the source is in motion offshore. We’ve got Marine Parks helping out, but they’re just as stymied as we are.
“We’re also investigating the motivation behind flooding the reefs with bad music,” Marquette said. “Who would benefit from that and why they would do it are significant questions.”
Local officials say stopping the transmissions is the top priority.
“It’s terrorism, pure and simple,” de facto island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’ve tried jamming the signal, to no avail. This keeps up, it’ll chase all our diving guests away. For good. And when that happens, it’s good bye Blacktip.
“Best guess is it’s those rat bastards over on Tiperon,” Cobia said. “They’ve always been jealous of us and all the divers liking us better than them. We need to figure out where they’re transmitting from. If it was a boat, we’d see it, so it has to be a sub or some kind of underwater drone. We asked the Coast Guard for depth charges, but they wouldn’t go for it.”
The music also has local dive staff on edge.
“If I hear the Little Mermaid one more time, I’m gonna hurt somebody,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Same for that damn Pina Colada song and Margaritaville. This stuff makes your teeth hurt. You can’t hear it on shore, but underwater, there’s no escape. A bunch of us are ready to quit.”
Some visiting divers, however, claimed to enjoy the music.
“It’s cool in a morbid sort of way, like walking across the street to get a better view of a car wreck,” Marlin White said. “It’s like there’s a reciprocity of crap, where the song is so bad it hits bottom and starts to head up toward ‘good’ again. Just this morning I heard Richard Harris singing that ‘someone left the cake out in the rain’ song, and I almost spit my reg I was laughing so hard. It’s great, like watching ‘Love Boat’ reruns.”
Filed under best scuba diving novels, Caribbean, Scuba Diving
Sunday, March 18, 2023
Precipitation: Not anytime soon