Thea Ruckhaus, 13, stepped onto the deck of the Arabella, tucked her violin under her chin, and began to play The African Reel.

In that moment, as the notes drifted across Cuttyhunk harbor, the world of cell phones and e-mail and computers drifted away, the centuries evaporated, and the Arabella's passengers were on a sailing vessel visiting a small island, cheered by a melody.

Without a doubt, Gosnold is different from the rest of the towns in Dukes County. And the county commissioners' annual meeting in Gosnold, held this past Tuesday, is different from their regular meetings, conducted in the county building next to the Martha's Vineyard Airport in Edgartown.

For one thing, there is the issue of getting there. Since Gosnold itself is a chain of a dozen islands, about eight miles from the Vineyard, a boat is called for. The commission opted for the Arabella, a catamaran out of Menemsha powered by both motor and sail.

Then there is the ambience of Gosnold, a throwback to a mostly vanished Vineyard of years past. Few roads or vehicles can be found on Cuttyhunk, the westernmost of the islands and the seat of town government. For that matter, few people live on Cuttyhunk or the other islands in Gosnold, which has about 120 registered voters.

Golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. The pace is slower. An electric grass clipper can be the loudest noise for miles.

Then there is town hall itself, built in 1926, which blends the feel of a spartan yacht club with that of a village community center.

The Gosnold experience makes the strictures of what passes for the modern world off Gosnold a lot less pressing.

Here is E. Winn Davis, the county manager, commonly found in a dress shirt and tie, but today looking like a camp counselor with a clipboard and in shorts, T-shirt and tan county baseball camp.

Here is county engineer Steven Berlucchi, looking like a tropical bush pilot with shades, a floppy hat and a Hawaiian shirt.

Here is county commissioner Roger Wey, wearing a pirate-like blue handkerchief on his head, lying back on the Arabella's deck. Here is Thea and her sister, Nina, nieces of county rodent control officer T.J. Hegarty, playing nine reels and other pieces of music before the departure back from Cuttyhunk.

Here is Corrine Young, a district representative for Cong. William Delahunt, D-Mass., who started the day in a skirt, but later took advantage of a little down time to go for a swim in Cuttyhunk harbor.

Let the record show that government business was transacted Tuesday on Cuttyhunk. Ms. Young, for instance, has been working with the town on its efforts to extend a dike along Canapitsit Beach to protect the Cuttyhunk harbor channel just to the north.

The town initiative has been complicated by a June 24 decision by the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs to require an environmental impact report on the project.

Gosnold selectman and board chairman Gail Blout sees the decision, if it sticks, as adding up to 10 more years and far more expense to the work.

Ms. Young has been working to arrange an inter-agency meeting that would include the town, the state Coastal Zone Management program, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is prepared to extend the dike.

On Tuesday Ms. Blout took Ms. Young via golf cart to visit the site of the proposed construction.

Then there was the meeting of the county commission itself, held in the town hall.

The commission voted 5-0 (members Leslie Leland and Nelson Smith were absent) to back Gosnold in its opposition to a state bill that would allow the tethering of dozens of lobster pots along a single line. Gosnold is the only area along the Massachusetts coast still restricted to single lobster pots.

A succession of county, state and federal officials also offered assistance to the town on a number of issues.

Acting airport manager Sean Flynn said he would get in touch with seaplane operators to let them know of Gosnold's interest in the resumption of seaplane service. After more than five decades, seaplane service to Cuttyhunk ended late last year when the operator sold his business.

In rough weather conditions, Ms. Blout said, seaplane service can be the only way onto or off the island.

Nate Mayo, a Delahunt staffer, said the congressman was working to prevent the closure of Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, in part to continue to ensure the continued operation of the Coast Guard air rescue operation based there. In difficult weather, Mr. Davis said, the Coast Guard sometimes can offer the only medical evacuation from Islands such as the Vineyard or Cuttyhunk.

Mr. Davis said state Sen. Robert O'Leary and state Rep. Eric Turkington were continuing to push a bill that would allow someone other than a selectman to represent Gosnold on the county advisory board. At present, state law limits participation on the board, which has the final say on county financial spending, to one selectman from each of the county's seven towns. While logistics tend to limit travel from Gosnold, especially in the off-season, the town treasurer has a home on the Vineyard and could more easily attend the board's meetings.

Passage of the bill, Mr. Davis said, would give Gosnold "taxation with representation."

Aid also was offered related to veterans services, home improvement, retirement services and rodent control.

Martha's Vineyard Commission executive director Mark London said he was working with Gosnold officials on planning issues. Capt. James Neville of the Dukes County sheriff's office said the sheriff was prepared to appoint a deputy sheriff for Gosnold who would have arrest powers and could transport prisoners. Mr. Davis said the county is prepared to offer Gosnold unlimited space on the county web site at county expense.

The county commission also took the occasion to give the town, represented by Ms. Blout, a framed aerial photograph of Dukes County, showing Gosnold on the upper left and the Vineyard on the lower right. Ms. Blout said the photograph would be hung in town hall.

At the conclusion of the meeting, commission chairman John Alley said, "Thank you very much for having us."

"Thank you very much for coming," Ms. Blout replied.

She later gave the meeting a positive review. "I think it was very helpful," she said, noting that this year the county had offered concrete help on a number of issues affecting the town.

Mr. Alley, reflecting on the meeting while eating apple walnut ice cream at the town dock, said Gosnold officials had shown increased interest in working with the county. Not long ago, Mr. Alley said, the principal reaction of Gosnold officials to the county was one of indifference.

"I think it was very successful," Mr. Alley said. "We pointed out a number of county services that could be of use to the citizens of Gosnold and particularly the island of Cuttyhunk. I think Congressman Delahunt and his staff also can provide citizens over here with services and help, which is the whole purpose of our yearly excursion to this blessed isle.

"We can bring county services to their attention, they have the option to pick up on it, and I noticed in the last couple years where the people here have begun to avail themselves to the services that are available," he said.

"And my ice cream's running," he concluded.