Float On

"For us to set up that production in that short amount of time and have a 5:30 sail-away party with a band on the pool deck is just amazing."

By Saturday, the cross-jamming among bands had reached a level of delicious promiscuity. Soulive six-stringer Eric Krasno strolled from the tiny Endless Summer bar stage to the swanky, Vegas-like Islands in the Sky lounge with his guitar, adding warm, jazzy licks to each band he sat in with, while Seattle-based saxophone madman Skerik blew into every session he could. The midnight sets by the pool, featuring bands like North Mississippi Allstars and Garaj Mahal, were a round robin of guest musicians. Sipping tall, frozen piña coladas and sucking down comparably sized joints, the crowd couldn't have been more satisfied.

"You can tell from the music that the bands love it here," said Adam Kapasinski, a 33-year-old artist from San Luis Obispo, California. "It pushes the envelope of the musical experience."

On Sunday night, as the ship neared its Jacksonville return and a potential early Customs inspection, the energy level redlined. Warnings of agents on the boat circulated, and within minutes, vials of LSD and tiny baggies of powdered Ecstasy were emptied onto tongues and fingertips while glass bongs were passed among strangers. The party had reached its final fever pitch, and no one wanted it to end.

Galactic blew it out at 5 a.m. Monday in the massive, regal Astoria music hall. Amid the final revelry, Ethan Schwartz, one of Brown's go-to assistants and the Davie promoter responsible for the upcoming Langerado festival in Hollywood, summed it up well. "I asked this girl if she was having a good time, and she said, 'I would put it between two things: amazing and unbelievable.' I didn't meet one person who was not having the time of their life."

Brown had already started looking into band availability for next year's cruise. "The boat we're looking at for next year is definitely a little larger, and we're looking at three or four different ports right now," Brown said. "I'd like to bring it back down to South Florida and probably go over to Cozumel, Mexico.

"We want it to grow, but we want to keep it intimate and affordable."

Mark Topazio, a.k.a. Captain Toast, operations director and ceremonial ship's captain, put Jam Cruise into proper perspective. "There're other music cruises, and they're awesome," he said, "but the full charter where we take this boat over and rock it till dawn every night is unique."

As everyone disembarked Monday afternoon, exchanging hugs and emotional, hungover goodbyes, it was obvious he was right.

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