Off To The Island: Living On St John, USVI
Moving in and out of all kinds of sailboats from small day trippers to larger forty and fifty foot voyage sail vessels was magical. My accommodations for the first night was a small sailboat with a tiny cabin pretty much just for stowing gear. It was fitted with comfortable cushions on the sitting benches. It was a simple boat probably twelve or fourteen foot. He bid me a good night and said he would be back to bring me into town at about six in the morning. I saw this significant spirit guide off as he motored back to the dock of Cruz Bay. First order of business was to just get organized a little bit and have a snack. By this point I was pretty hungry so some tasty treats from my tiger striped spackle bucket were very welcome. My sleeping bag had been a birthday gift from Eileen the year prior and could easily been considered a vision of insight for all that was to come. A nice sleeping setup on the bench cushions was ready in minutes. After having my late night meal and some “outback” style preparation for heading to bed, I dropped down on the make-shift sleeping setup with a tremendous relaxing deep exhale. The soft sweet subtle clang of metal rope supports gently bouncing off of other boat masts near and in the distance was as soothing as a summer night’s remote wooded location of an orchestra of crickets and cicadas. Also was the dreamy mellow and rich sound of easy lapping water up against the side of my one night stay, luxurious open air bedroom as well as other moored neighboring sailboats. Laying comfortably with my head resting on my hands with fingers interlocked, I gazed up into the dark night sky lit with twinkling lights of celestial body’s communication as light from many, many millennium past. It was a blanket of stars as the backdrop of this dream experience. All was quiet and still within, as well as the immediate surroundings. No cars, city noises, dense smog-filled air, machine noises - nothing - just the beautiful sound design of vision coming to be reality. As I was enthralled with the majesty of such a poetic sight, the one thought occupying my mind was, here I am, first night, a couple of little bumps in the road, but I am sleeping in Cruz Bay Harbor - on a boat!
I woke up suddenly at about three a.m. to some drizzling rain that was intensifying. A night time rain was not something that was taken into consideration just a few hours ago as I was enjoying my mystical panorama of stars. I jumped up and pulled out the waterproof fly from my Kelty tent and spread it out over my sleeping bag. It worked just fine for staying dry and was yet another initiation of the dreamy journey. Six a.m. came around and my host as human alarm clock sounded off. “Hey, my friend!”, he said in a quick tone and temperament. “Time to get going!” My new acquaintance was a bit more stern this early in the morning, but this did not matter to me. I quickly jumped up with an inner expression of gratitude, organized my few belongings and was off heading back to land.
I was bid a good day and good luck. Oddly enough it occurred to me months later, I had never again seen or crossed paths with this gentleman that extended his graciousness for my well-being and safety when I was in need. More of the fleeting blessings we receive as we open to remaining still and quiet within our minds of doubt-free knowing as trust, within simply, Being.
Not wanting to venture too far on foot, I eased my way to one of the early morning spots that was a regular for some locals. It was surely obvious that I was new on the island. I was greeted by well known long term St John residents talking over their early morning eye openers. This little establishment was know for their biscuits and gravy. And if you were a seasoned islander living the spirit as the final frontier of western civilization, a six a.m. beer, rum or vodka mix was a routine accompaniment. Sitting at the bar with a rare morning coffee, I enjoyed observing and taking in the surrounding conversation. You quickly came to identify the long-term locals, generally by their sun weathered leathery type of skin and overall demeanor of a sailing culture. These folks came to St John for the same reason as my trek - escapism. I sat quietly, wide eyed and a subtle happy smile. A woman a couple of bar stools away asked me where I was from and if I am passing through. I shared in a few words my intent to set up on the island. Asking me what my thoughts were of work, I responded keeping things really simple in that I was taking things slow and as they come for now. Responding to her inquiring as to what I had been doing on the mainland, I shared that I am(was) a musician. Some interest developed in her suggesting some opportunities for work, but she was quick and certain for some reason in making it clear to me that the options were slim. I was sort of passive about this since playing music was not foremost on my mind. Here too, it came to be strange that I had not seen or crossed paths with my second acquaintance for many months. This is a very small island and pretty unusual not to run into folks here and there.