Tag Archives: Caribbean fiction

Blacktip Island Author Releases New Humor Novel

Blacktip Island cover

Tim W. Jackson’s humor novel, Blacktip Island, was released Saturday.

Local award-winning author Tim W. Jackson Saturday released his second novel, Blacktip Island, via all major book distributors and his personal website.

Blacktip Island follows a bumbling embezzler who runs off to the Caribbean, a step ahead of the Feds and desperate to start life over as an anonymous divemaster in a tropical paradise. On Blacktip Island, though, he quickly discovers ‘tropics’ doesn’t mean ‘paradise,’ and rookie boat hands stick out like a reef at low tide.

“It’s a rollicking comedy for anyone who’s ever dreamed of trading the rat race for an exotic tropical locale,” Jackson said. “If Margaritaville and Northern Exposure had a love child, they’d call it Blacktip Island.

Early reviewers praised the novel.

The San Francisco Book Review said, “Five Stars. Blacktip Island’s storyline gets readers hooked, and the characters take this book to another level.” The Portland Book Review called Blacktip Island, “fun and funny, its characters vivid. Take your time and dive into this adventurous story.” IndieReader said, “Jackson has a strong voice that makes for an entertaining read from beginning to end.”

The novel’s first chapter is available as a free download below The Blacktip Times’ “World News” section and on the author’s website.

Blacktip Island is available for purchase at:

Amazon

iBooks

Smashwords

timwjackson.com

A portion of all proceeds from Blacktip Island go to the Nature Conservancy’s Coral Reef Preservation Fund.

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New Dinosaur Species Discovered On Blacktip Island

blacktiposaurus

The partial skeleton of the recently discovered Blacktiposaurus lies exposed in geologic sediment scientists have identified as from the early Flirtaceous period. The creature may be the missing link between extinct reptiles and modern birds. (photo courtesy of Ernesto Mojarra)

Two Blacktip Island hikers exploring the island’s rugged interior Wednesday discovered the fossilized remains of what experts believe is a new species of dinosaur linking the ancient reptiles to modern aquatic birds.

“We were fell-walking up on the bluff, and the nesting kingbirds kept dive bombing us, pecking at our heads,” divemaster Lee Helm said. “It was miserable. We were picking up stones to throw at them when Alison noticed an odd-looking pattern in the limestone.”

“You could totally tell it was something, or a couple of things all mooshed up together,” boat captain Alison Diesel said. “It took a few seconds to register. The thing’s about the size of a medium-sized goat.”

Specialists rushed to confirm the pair’s find.

“It’s pretty unbelievable, frankly,” said Ernesto Mojarra, head of Tiperon University-Blacktip’s paleontology department. “The skeleton shows a unique mix of reptilian scales and claws as well as avian feathers and beak structure. We’re calling it Blacktiposaurus.

“Preliminary guess, the creature was flightless, though a strong swimmer, and looked something like our modern booby birds, but with spines down its back,” Mojarra said. “With so many boobies and iguanas on Blacktip Island, this could be a common ancestor.”

Some locals were skeptical.

“The only dinosaurs anyone’s likely to find on Blacktip are at the bottom of a rum bottle,” the Reverend Pierre Grunt said. “Iguanas and boobies have always been here. In Earth’s 6,000-year history, nothing’s ever evolved on this island. Except drug-resistant social diseases.”

Others were eager to preserve the fossil for future study.

Blacktiposaurus rests in the sedimentary strata just above the K-T layer that marks the end of the Cretaceous period,” TU-B geologist Christina Grasby said. “With the bones smack on top of all that iridium-enriched dust and tektite spheres, this is the first evidence of saurian life surviving into the early Flirtaceous period following the Chicxulub asteroid impact in the Yucatan.”

Island entrepreneurs are backing the preservation efforts as well.

“That thing-gummy’s a gold mine,” said local businessman Rich Skerritt. “People’ll pay to see it, and they’ll pay more to watch Ernesto and his buddies fiddle with it. Excavate it. Whatever.

“An outdoor interactive museum is a natural, where folks can watch the dig,” Skerritt said. “Something tasteful. Then throw in food and beverage concessions, a gift shop, a couple of roller coasters, Blacktip’ll be a must-visit Caribbean destination in no time.”

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Divers Discover Fountain of Youth on Blacktip Island Reef

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A juvenile nurse shark swims through the shallows at Blacktip Island’s Ponce de Leon Reef Thursday, near the underwater vents believed to have restored youth to scuba diving visitors. (Photo courtesy of Marina DeLow)

Scuba divers on Blacktip Island’s Ponce de Leon Reef Wednesday discovered what local authorities say may be the famed Fountain of Youth.

“There’s always been a halocline up in the shallows where fresh water vents up through the hardpan,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “No idea why divers wandered up in there. The vis is manky and the coral’s just polyps.

“All the juvenile fish on that site should’ve been a tip off,” Diesel said. “Then when all those kids wearing adult-sized scuba gear climbed back on the boat, well, we knew something was up.”

Experts say the spring leaching out underwater may have helped keep it secret.

“Legend says the Fountain of Youth is in the Caribbean,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Explorers searched for it for centuries, but no one expected it to be underwater.

“We’re not sure what the source is, or why no one has noticed it before,” Altschul said. “It may be booby pond water, since no one’s ever tried to drink that stuff. Or the rejuvenating properties could be from booby pond muck catalyzing with seawater. We don’t even know if the effects are permanent.”

The discovery caused problems at Blacktip Island resorts.

“We had a boat full of guests at the bar demanding post-dive drinks,” Eagle Ray Cove resort manager Mickey Smarr said. “They talked like adults and all, but they were little kids. We had to turn them away. We’re not about to serve minors.”

Resort dive staffs have not been impacted by the water.

“Near as we can tell, divemasters are immune to the stuff,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Shouldn’t come as a surprise, I guess. It’d be hard to get any less mature than our dive staff.

“We’re selling kids masks and t-shirts and sun screen like crazy, too,” Latner said. “So there is a silver lining.”

Island resort owners, meanwhile, are promoting the dive site for its obvious benefits.

“We’re charging double to dive there, and folks are lining up to pay for it,” said Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt. “We’re working up a Fountain of Youth Diver specialty course to teach divers how to get close enough to take a few years off without zapping themselves back to pre-puberty.

“That first group all has to get recertified as Junior Divers,” Skerritt said. “Damn shame. We can’t let some of them dive past 40 feet. There was a bit of marital strife by the resort pool, too, when a little tyke came back from diving and tried to get frisky with his non-diving wife.”

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Booze Aerobics Targets Blacktip Island’s Health Woes

rum aerobics

An innovative exercise program will allow Blacktip Island’s most hard-core drinkers to increase their physical activity from the comfort of their barstools. (Photo courtesy of Palometa Fischer)

Blacktip Island fitness buffs this week launched an alcohol-based aerobics program, conducted in all three of Blacktip’s bars, to combat the Caribbean island’s growing obesity problem.

“Blacktippers are freakishly out of shape,” aerobics instructor Palometa Fischer said. “We can’t stop them from drinking – it’s the island pastime. Instead, we’re getting them active while they drink.

“We’re taking advantage of the captive audience,” said Fischer. “The only drawback so far was the couple of beer bottles thrown at us when we first walked in.”

Program participants were upbeat after the first session.

“We’re jumping up and down watching football anyway. This wasn’t all that different,” said James Conlee at the Last Ballyhoo bar. “Palometa jumping around in them shorts didn’t hurt, either, you know.”

Health professionals, however, questioned the program’s safety.

“This regimen will worsen Blacktip Island’s alcohol epidemic,” said Dr. Azul Tang. “And most of these people are in no shape for vigorous exercise. Palometa’s going to have her hands full with cardiac arrests and broken bones.”

Program organizers emphasized their safety protocol.

“We have a 2:1 instructor-to-student ratio so we can prop people up if they start to fall,” instructor Ginger Bass said. “And the nurse is on call for every session.

“We start slow so people can acclimate – stretching on a bar stool, that sort of thing – then graduate to standing stretches,” Bass said. “We have pool sessions, too, for the really wobbly ones. They can’t fall too far. And we put Water Wings around their necks so their heads’ll float if they do.”

Participants applauded the safety measures.

“So far, worst that happened is James spewed beer in the middle of jumping jacks,” Last Ballyhoo regular Dermott Bottoms said. “But he’d been drinking since breakfast, so you kind of expected it. That’s why they didn’t put him in the pool.”

Fischer, meanwhile, plans to expand the program in the future.

“We’re working up to a weekly Run for the Rum Bottle around a track,” Fischer said. “We put bottle on a pulley, like the fake rabbit they use for greyhound racing, and let everyone chase after it.

“For extreme cardio we’ll toss spiders on the bar when no one expects it,” Fischer said. “We beta tested that, and it got everyone’s heart rate right up into the fat-burning zone.”

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Blacktip Island Boaters Launch Dive-Sharing App

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Fishing skiffs sit ready to take Blacktip Island scuba divers to dive sites Friday morning.

Starting today, Blacktip Island scuba divers wanting a ride to or from a dive site can use a boat-sharing application launched by island boat owners. The app, modeled after similar land-based services, allows individual divers to hail private boats via their dive computer.

“We’re calling it ‘UBoat,’” founder Antonio Fletcher said. “You just punch your dive computer, and a boat picks you up.

“Divers like to sleep in, you know, and maybe only do one dive,” Fletcher said. “Or go places the resort boats won’t take them.”

Eight local fishermen have signed on for the service so far, most using fishing skiffs shorter than 20 feet.

“Going out fishing anyway,” local angler Dermott Bottoms said. “Might as well make a little side cash. And divers don’t mind the lines and hooks.

“Get extra money when sharks show up, too,” Bottoms said. “So long as the divers don’t catch me chumming.”

The app has already proved a hit with the island’s scuba diving guests.

“The little boats make it an adventure,” said diver Paula Plongeur. “And you never know who your captain’ll be. There’s nothing quite like hitting the surface, tapping your computer and seeing a half-dozen skiffs racing to get to you first.

“With UBoat, we dive where we want, as deep as we want for as long as we want,” Plongeur said. “Even late-night dives, though they do charge extra for those drop offs and pick ups. Especially the pick ups.”

Dive industry insiders, however, question UBoat’s safety.

“There’s no guarantee a boat’ll be there to pick you up,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “Some of these clowns are even dropping off solo divers.

“Sure, it’s a lower rate and personalized service, but what’s your life worth?” Latner said. “And you really want ‘Tonio or Dermott picking you up in the afternoon after they’ve been drinking all morning? Or worse, sleeping through the pick-up call?”

UBoat drivers were quick to defend the service.

“Tourists want to give me money for a boat ride, all right then,” Bottoms said. “Divers get on my boat ‘cause they want to, you know.

“They got a c-card and say they’re meeting a buddy on the reef, who am I to say they’re lying,” Bottoms added. “Not illegal. No one can tell me how I can make money.”

Divers defended the service as well.

“We see it as a kind of dive insurance,” Plongeur said. “People will fight to pick us up, even if a charter boat leaves us behind. Plus, Dermott lets us drink beer on the way to and from.”

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Guano Crayon Factory Solves Blacktip Island’s Health Woes

crayons

A batch of giant crayons sits ready for export at Diddley’s Landing public pier on Blacktip Island. The crayons, made from reclaimed booby bird guano, have boosted the island’s economy and eliminated a public heath crisis.

Blacktip Island government and business leaders teamed up this week to solve an island public health concern and calm unemployment worries by opening a factory to make wax markers from booby bird guano.

“Droppings from all these birds was a making folks sick,” said public health chief Herring Frye. “It dries into dust, then the wind blows it everywhere. Folks all over the island were hacking and coughing and whatnot.

“We collected a bunch of it, it was too expensive to ship off island,” Frye said. “And the reef huggers wouldn’t let us chuck it in the sea. That’s when ol’ Doc stepped in and saved our bacon.”

Island entrepreneur Piers “Doc” Plank had recently patented a process that turned bird waste into multi-colored wax.

“It started as a gimmick to sell for writing underwater,” Plank said. “When I saw the mountain of bird poop Herry’d collected, well, the light bulb went off. What do you do with a giant pile of poo? Turn it into crayons, of course.

“Island unemployment dropped to zero when we hired staff for processing, distribution and sales,” Plank said. “And there’s a whole lot less wheezing now, too.”

Plank noted the facility manufactures markers of all sizes for a variety of uses.

“We started with industrial-sized ones to use for striping the road and landing strip,” Plank said. “They’re even coloring navigational beacons with them. The wax is brighter than paint, and holds its color longer.

“Of course, we also make the standard-sized crayons you’d expect, for underwater slates and kids’ coloring,” Plank said. “We’re marketing those as ‘Poopons.’”

Many islanders have embraced the markers.

“It’s kind of nasty, using crayons made from bird poop,” said local Olive Beaugregory. “But Doc’s factory separates outs the impurities. They don’t smell much, I’ve never seen such vivid colors, and knowing they’re made from poop keeps the kiddos from eating them. Well, most of the kiddos.”

Not all residents are happy with the factory, though.

“When the wind’s from the east, you’d think something died over there,” said Palometa Fischer, who lives next door. “Our eyes water, and the dogs have a nasty cough now. Mr. Plank did give the kids free crayons, though, so we make the best of it.”

Other locals are concerned the manufacturing masks a more sinister product.

“One of the little-known byproducts of Doc’s ‘cleaning’ process is trinitrotoluene,” said island political activist Harry Pickett. “You think it’s a coincidence those big markers look like warheads? TNT on Blacktip Island’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Officials denied the claim.

“All this missile talk is pure crap,” Frye said. “We’d only use crayons for defensive purposes.”

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Blessing of the Regulators Returns To Blacktip Island

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Scuba diving regulators of all types and ages will be prayed for at Blacktip Island’s Blessing of the Regulators Sunday. (photo courtesy of Jerrod Ephesians)

The Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral will host the Caribbean island’s annual Blessing of the Regulators Sunday morning, safeguarding scuba divers and their equipment for the busy summer diving season.

“It’s a non-denominational ceremony open to all divers, regardless of religious beliefs, or lack thereof,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians. “We do it on behalf of St. Dervil, Blacktip Island’s patron saint, who blessed the island’s first divers back in the 1550s.

“The ceremony’s totally inclusive,” Ephesians said. “We welcome single- and double-hose regs as well as rebreathers, Spare Airs and even snorkels.”

As ever, local divers are excited about the ceremony.

“I trust my training and all, but I’ll take any backup I can get,” said Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel. “‘God’s my alternate air source,’ you know? Whichever god’ll listen.

“Using Dervil’s original Canticle for Regultors is what makes the Blessing stick,” Diesel said. “The whole ‘Bless me that I may not so much breathe, as to continue to breathe’ thing. And sprinkling us with rum.”

Others questioned the ceremony’s efficacy.

“There’s no proven cause-and-effect relationship between praying over your regulator and diving safely,” said long-time resident B.C. Flote. “Folks want this superstitious shtick, let ‘em do it on their own time. This’s a religious ceremony and the bars can’t open until it’s over.”

Church officials take a pragmatic view of the service.

“Hand of the Divine or self-fulfilling belief, it amounts to the same thing,” Ephesians said. “We administer the Blessing. People have safe dives. Boom. Done.

“We ran a couple of double-blind test Blessings a few years back, but the results were inconclusive,” Ephesians said. “It’s metaphorical, anyway. The Blessing covers not just regs, but all scuba gear. Except dive knives. That’d be inappropriate, since Dervil was hacked to death by Norse raiders.”

Island business leaders have embraced the Blessing for more secular reasons.

“The resort’s chock-a-block full this weekend, and we’re selling Blessing t-shirts like crazy,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “Mumbo jumbo or not, it fills our bank account every year. That’s a result you can measure.”

The Blessing will be administered en masse rather than individually to avoid the scuffles that marred last year’s ceremony.

“There was a rumor the regs that got blessed first got more oomph than the later ones,” Ephesians said. “Next thing we knew, divers at the back of the line were about killing each other to get to the front. We had to replace a bunch of pews and three stained-glass windows.”

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