Our first so-called “Day at Sea” was very long, and open wide. Cloudy it was too, threatening rain in the morning, literally held up by the heavy, moisture-gathering wind. And the humid heat took possession of the open decks by mid-afternoon.

Before this slow newsday started though, the captain had decided to change “Ship’s Time” to EST+1, UTM-4, Brussels-5. For short, and for general understanding, it is called “Atlantic Time”, as if the ocean can be squeezed into one time zone. Let it be said that the captain’s decision was not based on a straw poll of the passengers. Getting up an hour earlier, largely unexpected and still unadjusted, was not their first choice. Knowing that democracy is only suited to run countries, they didn’t hold a sit-in either.

Before moving any further, an apology is due. Indeed, I announced that we would make the Hispaniola / Puerto Rico passage on the same day that we left the Bahamas. Did I imagine me riding in my BMW M5? Was it Inertia at work? Let it be said: the sea is not in a hurry, and speeding is a very relative concept for the Prinsendam! Therefore, add 24 hours to my estimate and blame it all on your inexperienced servant. Wiser now, I can confirm that if you add another 30 hours you will find us arriving in Barbados: at 6am on January 9.

Nitpicking through yesterday’s “events”, an example of my good manners comes to mind. There was this old(er)couple for whom I held a (non-automatic) door open, so that they could pass without having to worry about being pushed over, or back, by the hydraulic door pump. With “Thank you, young man”, they expressed their gratitude. How right they were, saying “Yong Man” on this ship and on this voyage. Within this context, it is self-evident that a man of 25 would nigh be considered kindergarten-grade. But, as there is no prep school (except for internet “proficiency”), there are no 25-year olds neither. Adolescence begins at 60 on Prinsendam.

On the second Day at Sea, the clock didn’t change but the sun didn’t know. Consequently, the passengers didn’t have to rise earlier and all were in synch on lunch hours and the like. The sun though, she rose much earlier, and climbed a bit higher in the sky. After leaving Barbados and steaming in a straight southeasterly direction for more than two days, we have lost 14° of length and 11° of latitude. Solar time, steady as a rock, tells the true story, no matter how much the captain fiddles around with his, and our clocks.

I have meanwhile come to realize two things. First, the essence of time changes down here, in these wide and empty expanses – there is tons of it, and the true length of this voyage is starting to sink in. It will definitely push me outside of my “comfort zone”. According to plan, so to speak! Second, all of sudden I got this strange idea, around noon today, that I was in front of a “Wall of Freedom”. Until know gym-ming, jogging, eating, reading and blogging have filled time and space, but today I was short of “filler”. A wall to scale: fata morgana? sunstroke? None of it, and no alcohol either. I have put on my climbing gear – so to speak – and went straight to the Crowe’s Nest, in the front, at the top. A cozy oasis of silence and calm. The Piña Colada went very well with my revisiting Spinoza’s writings about substance. It feels like the climbing has already begun …

At this moment we are sailing close to the gap between Martinique and Santa Lucia, to regain the Atlantic. The wind has picked up considerably and the target gap is just 25 miles wide. The waves are having a ball. An hour from now, when wind, water and ship squeeze through this little hole, rock and roll could enhance our dreams while we (try to) sleep!

Prinsendam, Saturday January 8, 2011, 2300hrs

On the Road to Barbados [better: On the Wave)