Tag Archives: Caribbean

Island Startup Launches Line of Bamboo Scuba Gear

Bamboo logs slated to become Bamboo You scuba fins.

Bamboo logs slated to become Bamboo You scuba fins.

Blacktip Island entrepreneur Piers “Doc” Plank has launched Bamboo You, an island-based manufacturer of scuba equipment made completely of bamboo.

“Bamboo’s the ultimate renewable resource,” Plank said. “We’re as green as it gets. And when your kit wears out, send it back for recycling and a discount on new kit.

“Our materials are all locally sourced. The stuff washes up on shore by the ton. Our supply chain’s a combination of beach cleanup and power walking.”

“Snorkels were the obvious starting point,” said Bamboo You sales manager Christina Mojarra. “Then fins and slates. But we quickly expanded our line to include bamboo mask frames, regulator housings and BCDs woven from bamboo fiber.

“We’ve also patented Bambooprene wetsuits, made from thin layers of cross-cut young bamboo,” Mojarra said. “It insulates better than neoprene, and it’s not nearly as buoyant. We’re beta-testing our Big Bamboo dive knife, as well. Our goal is to outfit divers completely in bamboo, from hood to fin tips.”

“First stage regulators have been a challenge,” Plank said. “The trick is getting the stuff to stand up to 3000 psi. The 150-psi IP in the second stages is a cakewalk, but we’re still picking splinters of our first-stage prototype out of the walls. And Christina’s eyebrows.”

“Bamboo You’s a shot in the arm for the local economy,” Blacktip Island Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Bottoms said. “Ol’ Doc’s created jobs where there weren’t any, splinters be damned. I don’t know what half the stuff he makes does, but, by God, folks are buying it.”

“Our experience is the more useless the gizmo, the better it sells,” Plank said. “That’s the guiding principle behind our bamboo tank bangers, octo holders and clip-on D-rings.

“Our pièces de résistance, though, are the bamboo weights. Anti-weights, really. They come in quarter-pound increments and can be positioned anywhere on your body to trim you out perfectly. They’re stupid. Maybe the stupidest thing we’ve come up with. But we can’t keep them in stock – there’s two months of back-orders right now.”

“Satisfaction’s guaranteed,” Mojarra said. “Any problem with a Bamboo You product, return it and we’ll send your money back. No questions asked. We don’t want our customers feeling bamboozled.”

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Pygmy Sharks Return to Blacktip Island

One of the pygmy sharks (Carcharhinus pygmius) swarming Blacktip Island’s beaches.

One of the pygmy sharks (Carcharhinus pygmius) swarming Blacktip Island’s beaches.

The first wave of pygmy sharks has returned to Blacktip Island, signaling the unofficial end of hurricane season and the beginning of Shark Days pranks.

“It may be an old wives tale, but it holds true,” Sandy Bottoms, owner of Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort said. “We’ve had nasty blows after the official December 1 end-of-hurricane-season date, but never after the sharks show up.

“They’re a month late, but we’re happy to see them. Everyone can let our hair down and have some fun now that storm season’s past.”

The diminutive sharks (Carcharhinus pygmius) migrate past the Tiperon Island chain on their way to winter breeding grounds off coast of Central America.

Scientists speculate the end of storm season coinciding with the pygmy sharks’ return is due to seasonal weather patterns bringing cooler water to Blacktip Island, and the sharks along with it.

The sharks’ arrival is greeted with parties along island beaches.

“We bring the kids and make a day of it,” resident Edwin Chub said. “It truly brings the community together. No better way to welcome the New Year than with these little fellows . . . and some good-natured jokes.”

The sharks, trickster figures in island lore, also bring a time of island-wide practical joking.

“It’s a way to blow off steam without any long-term repercussions,” Chub said. “An island this small, neighbors have to get along. You can’t go having a confrontation every time there’s a disagreement – you do that you lose a friend, and quite possibly the help you need in the next storm. These pranks let us vent our frustrations in healthy, productive ways so we can all live happily together.”

“A couple years back, someone filled Payne Hanover’s place with live land crabs,” resident Nelson Pilchard said. “Big ones. Took Payne forever to get them all out. They tore up two oven mitts and a baseball glove before he was through. And he was days cleaning up the crab poop.”

“Last year someone left a pair of lacey red panties in Mickey Smarr’s glove box, with a note saying, ‘thanks for the good time,’” Bottoms said. “When Mickey’s wife found them, she beat him near-senseless. Only thing saved him was it was Shark Days. They’re still married, and Mickey’s scars are healing nicely. No one knows who did it. Could have been anyone – Mickey has a way of pissing people off. ‘The sharks got him,’ as we say.”

Island authorities could not confirm whether last night’s fire at the Customs house was related to a Shark Days prank.

“We’re lucky Shark Days only last a few weeks,” Chub said, “otherwise the celebrations might get out of hand.”

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St. Dervil’s Fever Sweeps Blacktip Island

A likeness of St. Dervil from the present-day Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral.

A likeness of St. Dervil from the present-day Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral.

Blacktip Island is bracing for today’s 441st St. Dervil’s Day festivities, honoring St. Dervil of the Iguanas, patron Saint of scuba diving and iguana husbandry.

A Rosicrucian monk fleeing colonial authorities, Dervil landed on Blacktip Island in 1542.

“He built the island’s first monastery from conch shells, coral rock and marl mortar,” island historian and museum curator Smithson Altschul said. “Dervil tried to remove himself from the secular world, but good luck with that on this island, even back then.

“His first documented miracle was driving all the Caribbean saltwater crocodiles from the island,” Altschul said. “He did it in a drunken haze, but it saved the islanders, who were on the verge of being eaten out of house and home.”

A study in contrast, Dervil also raised iguanas in his one-room monastery.

“He was barking mad,” Altschul said. “He lived with dozens of rock iguanas. Called them his monks. Tried to teach them Gregorian chants. But he had banished the man-eating crocs, so he was golden with the locals.

“The coconut mead he brewed helped gild that lily as well. Dervil first served it at Communion when he ran out of wine. That proved so popular he started offering Communion four, five times a day. Then he cut out the services altogether and just served mead. He eventually converted the monastery’s storehouse into a tavern.”

Dervil’s ministry was cut short December 27, 1557 when Norse raiders, blown off course on their way to Greenland, sacked the monastery. The church bestowed sainthood in 1572, making St. Dervil the Tiperon Islands’ first, and only, martyr.

“Several of the iguanas that died with him were up for sainthood, too,” Altschul added. “Church politics got in the way of that, though.”

Modern observances focus on Dervil’s life rather than his death.

“He was a raging drunk, so the celebration centers on everyone wearing paper mitre caps, getting absolutely potted and trying to catch iguanas,” event organizer Jay Valve said. “The last one standing gets to wear the iguana-skin mitre in the coming year.”

The highlight of the day, as ever, will be the mead brew-off, with residents trying to reproduce Dervil’s original mead recipe, lost when the Norsemen torched the island. Some are more successful than others.

“We’ve had some brews that tasted quite heavenly,” Valve said. “Most just smell of old socks. Or worse. The good news is Led Waite, our master of ceremonies, has his sight back after judging last year’s entries, so he’s good to go.”

The winner of the brew-off will receive an iguana.

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Blacktip Island To Get Traffic Signals

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

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

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.

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Booby Trot A Rousing Success

Blacktip Island's red-footed boobies were the beneficiaries of Thursday's Booby Trot.

Blacktip Island’s red-footed boobies were the beneficiaries of Thursday’s Booby Trot.

In conjunction with American Thanksgiving, the Blacktip Booby Bird Benevolence League staged Blacktip Island’s 13th annual 5K Booby Trot Thursday, with entry fees going to preservation of red-footed booby habitat on the island.

The foot race followed its usual course from Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort to Eagle Ray Cove.

“It’s not quite 5K, but our attorneys advised us not to ask anyone on this island to run five kilometers,” event organizer Sula Beakins said. “Blacktip doesn’t have enough medical staff or infrastructure to handle anything like that. Nowhere in the Caribbean does.

“It’s a delicate business picking a starting time, as well. It has to be late enough for last night’s partiers to participate, but not so late in the morning to interfere with the next day’s parties.”

Running in costume was optional, but strongly encouraged. Only one of the 24 contestants arrived at the starting line dressed as a booby, but was unable to compete due to an unidentified woman dressed as a frigate bird pouncing on him and forcing him to disgorge his breakfast.

As ever, all participants were required to wear red sneakers, boots or flip-flops. Barefoot runners were required to dye their feet red.

The top finishers were:

  • 1st Place            Reg Gurnard
  • 2nd Place            Christina Mojarra
  • 3rd Place            Edwin Chub

Special Mention went to Billy and Lucille Ray, who completed the run in three-legged race fashion – with Mr. Ray’s right leg tied to Mrs. Ray’s left leg – in full scuba gear.

“I’m proud to run for the boobies,” Reg Gurnard said after winning. “This island’s boobies need all the support we can give them.”

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