Blacktip Island scuba divers can be competitive on dives now thanks to the new ‘conchhole’ underwater weight-toss game developed by a local divemaster. (photo courtesy of Gage Hoase)
A Blacktip Island divemaster disassembling weight belts on a resort dock this week created an underwater version of the popular ‘cornhole’ bag toss game for scuba divers wanting competitive activity on dives.
“I was stripping weights off belts at the end of the week, and chucking them in the bins, like always, when it hit me,” Eagle Ray Divers’ Gage Hoase said. “Resort guests play cornhole all the time. It’s all the rage. Now they can play underwater, right here in the lagoon. I’m calling it ‘conchhole.’
“You use the same slanted boards with holes in them, but toss dive weights instead of bean bags,” Hoase said. “The added heft lets them travel through the water. We’re experimenting with which weights work best. Consensus is three-pounders, though some prefer the twos. Of course, crazy-ass Finn from Club Scuba Doo likes the curved sixes.”
Players say the game’s mechanics are slightly different underwater.
“You have to wear a ton of weight to stay down and to give the tosses momentum,” Jessie Catahoula said. “Lee Helm tried wearing a pair of weighted boots from a hard-hat diving outfit. He got stuck in the sand, no one would help him and he damn-near drowned. It was Lee, so we all got a good laugh before we helped him.
“The tricky part’s compensating for whatever current there is,” Catahoula said. “It can switch mid-game, too, so you have to be alert for that. Things can also get interesting when visibility drops. Jerky Bottoms got knocked out yesterday when Alison Diesel launched a weight without being able to see where she was throwing and whacked him on the head.”
Island resorts say the game is already proving popular.
“We got divers lining up to play, even folks from other resorts,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “We’re already selling ‘Underwater Cornholer’ shirts and caps, and we should have rash guards in later this week. And we’re also putting in underwater lights so folks can play at night.”
Other resorts are joining the craze.
“Got us our own boards and weights, set up off Diddley’s Landing where the water’s clearer and there’s less current,” Blacktip Haven dive operations manager Booger Bottoms said. “Launched a new Underwater Cornhole specialty course, too, teach folks how to play safely and responsibly. For a modest fee.”
Hoase predicts the game’s popularity will explode.
“Divers’re always trying to come up with ways to make scuba competitive,” he said. “Now, with conchhole, they can. Diving’s not a Type B personality activity anymore, and people love it.”