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Rum Bottles Help Find Blacktip Island Missing Persons

missing persons

Rum bottles at all Blacktip Island bars will have photos of missing persons placed on them under a new volunteer effort to reduce the number of people missing on the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of Stefan Giesbert)

Inspired by missing persons milk cartons, a Blacktip Island citizens group began placing missing residents’ faces on rum bottles at island bars Monday.

“We tried milk cartons, but no one on Blacktip gives a damn about milk,” Keen to Eliminate Lost People founder Harry Wrasse said. “But rum bottles? Blacktippers spend most of their free time staring at them.

“We don’t get a ton of missing people, but when we do, it’s a big deal,” Wrasse said. “Just last week Antonio Fletcher went missing for three days. The bottles got the word out, and we found him in a palm tree on top of the bluff. Said he flew up there. Jerrod had to fly up and get him down.”

The effort is funded by a local crowdsourcing effort.

“‘Groupsourcing’s’ more accurate, as few people as there are on the island,” Wrasse said. “And we rely on a stable of volunteers. We need as many as possible to make sure we have at least one sober at any given time.”

Bar rum bottles have been fitted with clear plastic sleeves that allow bartenders to change photos as needed.

“When someone goes missing, we send photos to all the bars and resorts,” KELP volunteer Rosie Blenny said. “As soon as we find the person, we send word out and everyone takes that photo off their bottles.”

The project has draw opposition from locals concerned about misuse and privacy issues.

“Less than a week and it’s already a train wreck,” resident Reg Gurnard said. “First, Kitty Katz posted a photo of her husband Mickey. That didn’t end well.

“Then Lee Helm posted a picture of his girlfriend when he thought she was off with someone else,” Gurnard said. “Problem is, she was. A bunch of folks tracked us down and all hell broke loose. Someone wants to be lost, that’s no one’s business but their own. All this does is get a bunch of drunks out snooping on people.”

Organizers are not daunted by the criticism.

“There’s been a few hiccups, sure. But we’ve done a lot of good, too,” Blenny said. “We found a missing tourist just yesterday. He’d taken a resort bike for a ride around the island, only he kept taking the crossover road and kept circling the south end. He’d still be out there if it wasn’t for KELP.

“Dermott gets lost all the time, too,” Blenny added. “Most of the bottles have his photo on them and a note telling him to go home. We’re saving lives here.”

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Craft Distillery Plumbs Rum To Blacktip Island Homes

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Barry Bottoms demonstrates a newly-installed Bottoms Up rum-delivery faucet in a Blacktip Island home. (photo courtesy of Bottoms Up Distillery)

A Blacktip Island distillery’s plan to pipe rum to every home on the island came under fire Thursday from an unlikely alliance of the island’s religious community and bar owners.

“Drinking’s already out of control on this little rock,” said the Rev. Pierre Grunt. “This plan will let people sit at their sink and drink until they pass out.

“Before, at least they had to get up and go to a bar,” Grunt said. “And what’s to keep little children away from the tap?”

Brewery owners defended their plan.

“Our market’s tiny. We’re fighting to survive financially,” Bottoms Up Distillery president Barry Bottoms said. “The idea’s to make our new Bottoms Up dark rum readily available to everyone.

“I don’t understand why Pierre’s got his shorts in such a wad,” Bottoms said. “The taps have child-proof locks. And with so many people drinking at home, this’ll cut down on drunk driving, too.”

Grunt found support from the island’s bar owners.

“Barry’s playing dirty pool, siphoning customers away from us,” said Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt. “Before, we’d buy booze from Barry, mark it up, sell it to our patrons. This plan cuts us out of the loop.

“Don’t know what kind of pipes Barry’s using, but they better be sturdy,” Skerritt said. “No telling what kind of damage a burrowing iguana or land crab might do to those lines, if you take my meaning.”

Many residents, however, are excited about the plan.

“It’ll be great, never being out of hootch,” divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Unless you don’t pay your bill and they cut you off. And the monthly billing’s like running a bar tab, really. Plus, they give volume discounts.

“The only hitch I can see is a pressure drop if too many people go for a drink at the same time,” Hoase said. “Like halftime during the Super Bowl or something.”

Bottoms, meanwhile, said Bottoms Up is sensitive to residents who oppose the plan.

“Getting your house rum plumbed is 100 percent optional,” Bottoms said. “It does increase the home’s resale value, though, so we’re suggesting church goers and A.A. types get the line installed and then just cap it off.

“We have plans to run separate lines for light and dark rums, eventually,” Bottoms said. “And if it works well on Blacktip, we’ll branch out to the other Tiperon islands.”

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Blacktip Island Nutritionist Touts New ‘Pirate Diet’

Rum and chicken wings are health foods with the new Pirate Diet.

Rum and chicken wings are health foods with the new Pirate Diet.

A Blacktip Island nutritionist is promoting a new eating regimen, dubbed the Pirate Diet, that promotes healthy weight loss by replicating the eating habits of 16th– and 17th-Century buccaneers.

“This is no fad. The diet’s rooted in science and historical fact,” said nutritionist Leah Shore, the diet’s creator. “It incorporates everyday, modern foods that mimic the foods our pre-industrialized forebears thrived on.

“Our ancestors were raised on this stuff,” Shore said. “It’s in our DNA. We’re simply not hardwired for salad and soy and light beer.”

Shore maintains the diet causes the body to catalyze stored fat into lean muscle due to meals high in protein, fat and rum.

“Rum’s the key,” Shore said. “It gives a net alkaline load that balances dietary acid. High rum intake also ensures you burn through any carbohydrate-induced statins and free radicals.”

Local pirate dieters rave about the results.

“I’ve been eating pirate style for months now, and I feel fantastic,” divemaster Marina DeLow said. “Plus, there’s no calorie counting. I eat what I want, drink as much as I want and pass out before I can overeat.”

A strict exercise regimen accompanies the diet.

“Piraters engage in alternating days of cutlass fighting, ship boarding and planking,” Shore said. “Walking on planks, that is. Long rest periods are essential, too, preferably in a hammock.”

Local health professionals, however, are critical of the diet’s historical basis.

“It is impossible to know what 17th-Century buccaneers ate,” said Dr. Azul Tang of Tiperon University-Blacktip. “We do know they had notoriously-short lifespans, though, and there is zero evidence of anyone in the 1650s living on hot wings and Flor de Caña.”

Tang also questioned the diet’s safety.

“This sort of fad diet can wreak havoc on the human body,” Tang said. “Take a look at any of this island’s divemasters.

“And none of the diet’s proponents have addressed its associated memory loss and verbal aphasia,” Tang added.

Shore was quick to defend the diet.

“After a few months you might catch yourself slipping into odd speech patterns,” Shore said. “And you may notice a heightened fondness for parrots. But the health benefits far outweigh a few minor side effects.”

Pirate dieters echoed that sentiment.

“When first I heard of this diet I thought to meself, ‘Ar, that be a pile o’ guano,’” DeLow said. “But here I be, fit as any two seafaring men with wooden legs.”

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Rum and Sand Flies Fuel Seaweed Sculpting Contest

A Mount Rushmore-inspired Bangles homage in its early stages on the Eagle Ray Cove beach.

A Mount Rushmore-inspired Bangles homage in its early stages on the Eagle Ray Cove beach.

May’s southwest winds have piled turtle grass high on Blacktip Island’s western beaches, heralding the Turtle Grass Sculpting Contest at Eagle Ray Cove resort.

“The wind and the currents mound the seaweed up at The Cove like no place else on the island,” resort manager Mickey Smarr said. “There’s tons of it. Literally. Last year we hauled away 6,800 pounds in May alone.

“We decided to turn lemons into lemonade, so to speak, make it a social event for the whole community. Plus, it helps with cleanup.”

Four-person teams have half a day to create their most imaginative sculptures before the grass rots.

“You have to work it pretty quick,” sculptor Alison Diesel said. “It gets damn rank after a few hours in the sun, and they banned respirators a couple years back. And the sand flies – oi!”

Past winning entries have included a scale model of the Kremlin, a linear depiction of the Battle of Waterloo and a couchant fuzzy bunny rabbit.

This season’s entries are equally impressive.

“We’re finishing a Mount Rushmore-inspired sculpture of the Bangles,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Lee Helm said. “We’ve got Vicki, Debbi and Michael down brilliantly. We’re having a bugger of a time getting Susanna’s eyes and nose done proper, though. Right now she looks more like Robert De Niro.”

As with any island competition, emotions run high.

“There’s extra security on hand after last year’s seaweed fight,” Eagle Ray Cove’s Mickey Smarr said.

“Had no idea there was washed up Portuguese man-o-wars in that grass we was flinging,” sculptor Jesse Conlee said. “Hell, stung our hands, too. But no one talks about that. Just those kids got caught in the crossfire. A little rum and they were fine.”

“Rum does play a big role in the contest. No denying that,” Diesel said. “I’m not sure it’s a definite cause-and-effect thing, but the team that drinks the most while sculpting usually wins. And feels the sand flies less.”

Contest winners receive bottles of Flor de Caña rum and tubes of cortisone cream.

Losers are required to haul away the turtle grass afterwards.

All contestants receive complimentary tetanus shots.

Spectators are advised not to stand downwind of the sculpture area. Tiperon Airways is providing airsickness bags for those who ignore the warning.

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