The Master of Deviation
Foxy's. After a couple of crazy days in the U.S. Virgins, we end up, serendipitously, at Foxy's Tamarind Bar on Jost van Dyke, in the neighboring British Virgin Islands, on the very evening of the iconic watering hole's 40th-anniversary bash. There's music in the air, and more on the way.
To that point, the mini-cruise on Splinter Beach, fueled by that initial case of El Presidente and a steady string of reinforcements, had been a rather riotous affair. We pulled into Norman Island and scrambled up Spyglass Hill for a bit of treasure hunting at the site of an old pirate's lair, the inspiration for Murray's tune "Dead Man's Grave." We had a glance at the beach on Virgin Gorda where he was married before 250 of his closest friends, and we also had a peek at several of the other local venues for the 75 or so weddings he's personally performed. (Yes, you may also call him the Reverend Davis Murray, an online-ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, who-oh, let's just skip it and move on.)
But for many reasons, Foxy's is the perfect place to wind up the proceedings: The little beachfront bar perfectly personifies the endless connection between cruising, the sea, islands, the tropics, rum, and the music that fuses them all into a glorious whole. It's a bond so strong and seamless that it's sometimes hard to tell where one thing ends and the next begins.
Buffett, of course, has mined that vein for all it's worth with a spectacular collection of songs and ballads, but there's no end of talented, grassroots performers-folks like Eileen Quinn, Eric Stone, Derek Escher, Joe Colpitt, and, now, Barefoot Davis and his talented right-hand man, Morgan "Steel Pan" Rael-who have taken Buffett's baton and are charting their own tuneful journeys along the watery way.
Colpitt, a singer and guitar player who sailed his trimaran, Virgin Fire, over from St. John, is on the entertainment roster at Foxy's for the momentous occasion, and during his set he calls Murray up from the crowd to do a few numbers. The barefoot biker, guitar in hand, does not require a second invitation.
Davis Murray calls his music "island country." And as with any good songwriter, his tunes are derived from the path he's traveled and are picture windows into his soul. "South Cakalacky" is an ode to Charleston, South Carolina, and the time he spent there building a custom catamaran.
"Grape Jelly" hearkens back to his childhood in Massachusetts and the smells wafting from his mom's kitchen. "Rum Is the Answer-What Was the Question?" recalls the playful banter between a charter captain and crew on a dayboat out of Red Hook, on St. Thomas. "Latitude 18" is a tribute to the St. Thomas gin mill of the same name where he began to find his way as a musician and still holds court every Monday evening as the house band.
But his most personal song may well be "One-Eyed Dan," about a wandering soul who ends up in the Caribbean as a sailing troubadour, a mission he pursues right up to his dying day. Murray, of course, has two good peepers, but otherwise, the closing verse rings a familiar bell: "Though he lived his life with just one eye, he made it plain, you see; he seen twice as much as any man could ever see."
Herb McCormick is a Cruising World editor at large.