Yesterday morning, my mother and I were dropped off at the ferry station and the taxi driver seemed unaware of the ferries going to St. Croix and their timing. Going inside, there was an insistence on wearing masks both in the ferry station itself as well as in the inside of the ferry going both to and from St. Croix for a period of around an hour and a half. While on this ferry I was struck by the contrasts between traveling to and from the islands here, as there are both comparisons and contrasts to be made.
The mood was far different in Red Hook on Thursday than it was in Charlotte Amelie yesterday. In Red Hook, the ferry was a busy building and there were ferries going hourly between St. Thomas and St. John, filled with tourists, in contrast to the nearly empty terminal I encountered yesterday and the still more empty one I saw in St. Croix. At least there were some businesses, including a restaurant, in Charlotte Amelie. In St. Croix the only business that goes on at the ferry wharf is a bustling logistics business where trucks are continually coming in and out while the passenger side is locked off until shortly before the ferry comes, with no businesses of any kind to cater to the meager crowd of tourists going between the two islands for the thrice-a-week ferry.
This is not to say that the ferry experience from Red Hook to Cruz Bay was perfect, even if the entrepreneurial mood was present on both sides of the ferry to my own personal enjoyment at least. When sailing between the two spots for a relatively short ferry of only 20 minutes or so, one passes Little St. James, the private personal island of the late suicided Jeffrey Epstein, whom locals were ill-disposed to speak evil of even in death. This is a reminder, of course, of the sort of lawlessness that can occur when wealthy and powerfully connected people own their own islands and become, more or less, a law unto themselves.
And there was a great deal of fun to be had on the ferry going from Charlotte Amelie to Gallows Bay, where the antiquated ferry boat Adventurer galloped over the waves of the rough open seas, pushing up spray higher than the inside roof the ferry where I sat. And the passengers all seemed to be able to enjoy themselves, with some of them even dancing through the aisles together. This was so even though at most two dozen people were making the trip between the two islands, not even remotely full to what could be present. What one senses is a real missed opportunity, in that so few people do travel from island to island, and thus fail to recognize the differences that are present in the experiences that each island has to offer. Indeed, one taxi driver who had lived on St. Thomas for years had never been to St. Croix and considered them to be bandidos who cut down trees to stop cars to rob the people within, a sort of view that would be unlikely to survive close interaction and visitation.