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Blacktip Island To Elect New Village Idiot

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The Sand Spit bar will be the sole polling location for Blacktip Island’s annual Village Idiot vote this weekend. (photo courtesy of Cori Anders) – Oct 2017

Blacktip Island residents this Saturday will choose the small Caribbean island’s 2022/23 Village Idiot, the annual event marking the end of the dog days of summer, organizers said.

“This time of year, everybody gets a little goofy,” Idiot vote organizer Lefty Wright said. “It was an unofficial title for the longest time, then we decided to formalize it, make it a kind of honor. The person with the most votes wins one get-out-of-jail-free card and a reserved seat at each of the island bars. And a t-shirt.

“Voting’s based on an individuals’ behavior over the last 12 months,” Wright said. “Emphasis is on the stupidest actions, ideas and suggestions people come up with. It’s a great way to boost everybody’s spirits during these hot days.

As ever, competition is expected to be fierce.

“Most years, the hard part’s sorting through all the options,” Wendy Beaufort said. “Honestly, half the people on this island are worthy of the title. It usually comes down to who commits the most memorable idiocies, though some winners earn the title through their entire body of work.

“Right now, Dermott Bottoms is favored to keep the title,” Beaufort said. “He has some serious competition, though: Lee Helm’s always a contender, and Linford Blenny’s making a late surge. His peeing in the wall outlet last month may have put him over the top.”

Some expect dark horse candidates to make strong showings.

“It’s a wide-open field,” Billy Ray said. “In addition to the favorites, you have Gage Hoase trying to walk across the booby pond with tennis rackets on his feet. There’s Alison Diesel who got bit hugging a shark on a dare. And Angela Fisher’s telling everybody the Nassau groupers can control people’s thoughts.”

Others were critical of the contest.

“People are celebrating others having serious mental health issues,” Helen Maples said. “Many of these people need counseling, or medication, or both. Instead they’re being lionized. I don’t know whether this island attracts the mentally unstable, or if it creates them, but we have more than our fair share. That needs to be addressed in a responsible manner, not by everyone getting falling-down drunk.”

The voting will take place at the Sand Spit bar.

“I’ll be on duty all day, making sure folks only vote once,” bartender Cori Anders said. “Last year Vinson Noboddie tried to stuff the ballot box by voting for himself five times. Luckily, his crappy handwriting gave him away.” Votes will be counted publicly at the end of the night. In the case of a tie, those with the most votes will be declared co-idiots.

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Sing along if you know the words:

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Scientists To Unleash Robotic Fish On Blacktip Island Reefs

robot fish

The teeth of Tiperon University-Blacktip’s biorobotic shark have been covered with plastic tubing after an incident that injured two research assistants Wednesday. (photo courtesy of Z22)

After a recent reef survey revealed declining fish numbers, Blacktip Island civic leaders this week launched a controversial plan to repopulate the small Caribbean island’s reefs with robotic fish island, officials said.

“We’re seeing drops in the number of species as well as overall population of fish on our reefs,” de facto mayor Jack Cobia said. “That really dings our tourism product, so we had to do something before folks take their scuba vacations someplace else. Since the fish aren’t breeding fast enough, it makes sense to boost their numbers with robots.

“The pointy-heads down at the university’ve been working on micro technology, and this project’s the perfect opportunity to see if that stuff actually works,” Cobia said. “They’re making everything from little pike blennies up to sharks and manta rays. Our world-class scuba diving is about to get supercharged.”

Tiperon University-Blacktip scientists have embraced the task.

“This is a chance to really put our biorobotic technology to the test,” TU-B engineering department chair Sally Port said. “We’ve combined biological tissue with mechanical systems to create news forms of fauna. Releasing them on the reef is an exciting next step. These aren’t fake fish. They’re better fish.

“Natural tail movement was simple enough,” Port said. “Now we’re fine tuning the motion of the pectoral fins, eyes and gills to make the creatures as realistic as possible. So far we’ve only had one mishap, with our mechanical reef shark. But the two interns are healing nicely.”

Some ecologists objected to the plan.

“Long term, this will actually do more harm to the reefs than good,” ecologist Harry Pickett said. “These gizmos may look like fish, but they’ll wreak havoc on the underwater ecosystem. They’re hundreds of Frankenstein’s monsters with fins.

“The big concern is all these cyborgs will scare off the real fish,” Pickett said. “That could start a spiral that ends with there being more fake fish than real ones. And what happens when they turn on the divers, like that shark did to the two researchers? Sally and her team have no control over these things. This a nightmare in the making.”

Dive operators were generally supportive.

“Frankly, most of our diving guests won’t know the difference between the Franken-fish and real ones,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “And if they have to fight off one or two, well, that makes their dive more exciting. When they have fun, they’re happy. And if they come up smiling, we’re happy.”

Port echoed that sentiment.

“We’re creating new life forms,” she said. “That inherently enhances the dive experience. I’m hoping our babies can breed with each other. And with other fish, to create even more new species.”

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Aaah . . . made it to Wednesday. Here’s dolphins: 

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Blacktip Island Weather


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Temperature: 95

Humidity: 78%

Precipitation: Zero chance

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Blacktip Island Braces For The Running Of The Skeeters

running of the skeeters

Dozens of nude Blacktip Island residents will brave swarms of voracious mosquitos at dusk Saturday in the small Caribbean island’s annual Running of the Skeeters, celebrating summer on the island. (photo courtesy of James Gathany)

Blacktip Island residents this week stocked up on running shoes and cortisone cream in preparation for Saturday’s 23rd annual Running of the Skeeters, celebrating the height of summer, when dozens of residents will sprint nude down a jungle trail at dusk when the island’s mosquitos swarm the thickest.

“Started years ago as a drunken dare, and it’s grown every year since,” RotS organizer Wade Soote said. “The aim is to run from the west coast road, down an overgrown path through the mangroves 100 yards to the beach, then race back out, wearing only shoes or boots.
“It’s become a rite of passage for locals, a way to surrender yourself to the island, and for the island to accept you,” Soote said. “Everybody does it at least once. Some folks do it every year. It’s like a blood sacrifice to the island gods.”

Runners echoes that sentiment.

“It tests your fortitude. Your resolve to live here,” Corie Anders said. “Anybody can come to Blacktip and sit in the air conditioning. Or just go out midday, when the mozzies aren’t feeding. But to be a real Blacktipper, you need to get well-bitten, like our pre-air con ancestors did.

“The secret’s to keep moving—they don’t bite you too much until you stop, usually on the beach or at the road,” Anders said. “Hydrate beforehand and wear good running shoes – you fall, they’ll suck you dry, and no one will stop to help you.”

Some residents voiced concerns about the event.

“They make ‘No Malaria, No Worries’ t-shirts for the runners, to make light of it,” Vera Cuda said. “But that’s ingenuous, at best. Blacktip may not have malaria, but the region has dengue, yellow fever, zika, chikungunya and elephantiasis circulating all around us. It’s utterly irresponsible to purposely get bitten by mosquitos and potentially spread those deadly diseases.”

Island health authorities are prepared for the uptick in bites.

“I’ll be ready at the clinic with cortisone, Benadryl and epi-pens,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “And most of the bars will be offering discounted rum for all runners, to help ease the pain. I won’t be on site, of course. If people want to get bug bit, that’s their affair. I’ll be comfortable inside away from the mosquitos.”

Most runners brushed aside concerns.

“Getting bit 80, 100 times, it helps build your immunity to mosquito saliva and to whatever viruses they carry,” Jack Cobia said. “Sure, you feel like a human pincushion, but after the first few minutes, you start to kind of like it.”

“We encourage first-time runners, and’ll give them any pointers we can,” Cobia said. “And nobody’s ogling each other—folks’re running too fast, and swatting too wildly. And it’s not cheating to rub DEET over your sensitive parts.”

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Iguana Pox Forces Blacktip Island Divemasters To Work Remotely

Eagle Ray Cove divemasters deploy one of the surveillance drones used to monitor scuba diving guests, allowing dive staff to work remotely to combat a surge in iguana pox cases on Blacktip Island. (photo courtesy of Eagle Ray Cove)

Due to an uptick in iguana pox cases on Blacktip Island, the small Caribbean island’s dive operations have implemented a plan for divemasters to lead and supervise dives remotely to avoid acquiring, or transmitting, the virus.

“We had so many folks getting the pox, we almost had to shut down,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “We were in a bind ‘til Alison Diesel came up with the idea of using underwater drones to keep an eye on divers from the comfort of her apartment. We also have captains driving our boats remotely from home, so there’s no direct interaction with guests at all.

“We tried using reef cameras, but after a couple of out-of-air incidents, realized we needed the mobility drones provide,” Latner said. “We can follow problem divers, block their path if they’re about to do something stupid and, as a last resort, yell at them through an underwater speaker.”

Other resorts have followed Eagle Ray Divers’ lead.

“The drone thing rocks,” Club Scuba Doo’s dive manager Finn Kiick said. “All our video game skills are totally paying off. We rigged drones with big-ass hooks so we can snag yahoos going too deep or trashing coral and drag them back to safety.

“It also means our DMs can work with zero chance of getting bent or blowing an eardrum,” Kiick said. “The only in-person work we do is filling the tanks, and we do that at night when no guests are around.”

Some dive staff, though, were not happy with the new procedures.

“Can’t really show guests cool sea critters with a drone,” Blacktip Haven divemaster Booger Bottoms said. “Tried to point out a sea slug yesterday and like to took out a whole coral head. Even talking to guests while you guide them scares the fish.

“Makes it hard to teach students, too,” Bottoms said. “‘Til this virus wave passes, we just have ‘em watch videos and hope for the best. If they’re strong, they’ll survive.”

Others worried about diver safety.

“The big worry’s there’ll be an accident we can’t really respond to,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “You can’t supervise 20-plus divers with one drone, even a fast one. And if anybody gets hurt, all we can do is call the clinic. And, more importantly, not being on the boat in person really cuts into your tips.”

Latner said guest response to the initiative has been generally positive.

“Folks seem to like being on their own,” he said. “They also get an ego boost when they realize they have darker tans than any of our staff.”

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Happy Dolphinday!

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Blacktip Island Weather


Sunday, July 10, 2022

Temperature: 93

Humidity: 78%

Precipitation: No chance

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Blacktip Island Restauranteurs Launch Underwater Food Carts

underwater snack carts

Rusty Goby delivers an order of fish tacos to scuba divers on Blacktip Island’s Jawfish Reef Thursday. The small Caribbean island’s divers now have the option of mid-dive dining thanks to restauranteurs selling small meals delivered via diver propelled vehicles. (photo courtesy of Wreckdiver08)

A group of Blacktip Island restaurant professionals banded together this week to bring the popular food cart concept to hungry scuba divers underwater on Blacktip Island’s reefs.

“Food carts are all the rage, and we figured why not make the logical jump to have carts catering to scuba divers while they dive?” Blacktip Haven chef Jessie Catahoula said. “Each of us has our own themed specialty, and in place of vans, we use underwater scooters to deliver pre-cooked meals.

“Obviously, we can’t cook underwater, but we’re using Zip-Loc baggies to keep the pre-cooked meals dry,” Catahoula said. “The plan is to eventually put meals in sealed, squeezable bags with straws, like the astronauts use. We’re already using commercially-produced boxed juices.”

Local retailers have seized on the idea.

“Divers have to pay by tapping their credit card on the payment gizmo, so we came up with waterproof gizmo housings,” scuba retailer Bamboo You owner Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said. “Problem was, people kept having their cards float off mid dive without realizing it. That’s when we introduced the underwater credit card holder that straps on your wrist. Now divers can charge underwater to their heart’s content and not have to worry about losing their cards.”

Divers raved about the variety of offerings.

“Jessie’s rogan josh was great,” Sally Port said. “So was Cori’s callaloo. Sure, it’s all gooshy and puréed so it squirts out of the bags better, but it has all the flavor of regular food. It makes the perfect mid-dive snack. The only negative experience I’ve had was the Yorkshire pudding was way too lumpy.”

Environmentalists, however, worry about the meals’ effect on the reefs.

“What happens to all those empty pouches after divers finish their meals?” marine science professor Goby Graysby said. “This’ll create more underwater pollution and kill coral. Also, what’s to stop people from feeding fish? Liquified tacos al pastor can’t be good for grouper. We spent so long getting people to stop feeding fish canned cheese, now this.”

Others worry about diver safety concerns.

“What if a diver has their reg out to eat and swallows at the wrong time?” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Or when someone aspirates their lasagna at 80 feet? We actively discourage divers from buying from the carts, but we can’t stop them. Or the vendors. Someone’s gonna get hurt, though. Or worse. Just this morning we had to rescue a guy who got his reg clogged with lo mien.”

Catahoula said the problems would work themselves out.

“We have faith the divers can walk and chew gum at the same time, figuratively,” she said. “They have to take personal responsibility and figure it out for themselves—we’re not gonna be down there spoon feeding them. This is the cutting edge of a new frontier in dining.”

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