Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Total Solar Eclipse from the South Pacific on Nov 14, 2012

Diamond Ring - 2006 Total Solar Eclipse, Sahara Desert, Libya
I leave in a week's time for Fiji to take a Total Solar Eclipse Cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin. This eclipse trip is arranged by TravelQuest, who I have traveled with before, so I know it will be top-notch.  They will have eight staff aboard, so the on-board presentations will ensure we are all well-prepared for the big day on the 14th, when we will be south of New Caledonia in the South Pacific to watch the solar eclipse.

Being aboard a ship dedicated to eclipse chasing means we will be in a prime location, and be able to avoid any weather which might hamper us in one location by simply sailing to a better one as required.  I'll leave it up to the staff to decide that one - they well know what we are all after!

This is a 10 day cruise aboard a ship which will only have about 320 passengers aboard, so I am looking forward to being pampered and spoiled by the service staff. Being able to share the solar eclipse experience with fellow dedicated eclipse chasers will only enhance the experience. The last time I observed a total solar eclipse was from the Libyan Sahara Desert in 2006 under ideal conditions.  I think the predicted chance of cloud cover was less than 10% at the Sahara location, whereas on this trip, the chance of cloud cover is closer to 50%, however the chance of thick cloud cover is about 20%. Totality will last 3 minutes at our location, which is pretty well the longest anyone will experience for this eclipse, given its track is mainly over the water of the South Pacific.  Most eclipse chasers will be on the Australian coast north of Cairns to observe this event.  They will have considerably more weather decisions to make than us...I expect to hear some exciting stories from them of having to make runs inland to avoid the clouds, but I wish everyone all the best nonetheless.

JoeTourist InfoSystems: New Caledonia  Beach  in Baie de Kuto
Beach in Baie de Kuto, , Ile des Pins, New Caledonia
The ship will make four ports of call in New Caledonia as well as visiting Port Vila in Vanuatu. I am very much looking forward to visiting these ports, since in 2010, I sailed aboard Holland America's Volendam to some of the same ports of call. It is with considerable anticipation that I want to experience these magical places again, since the snorkeling and scenery is second to none, and I will get to experience two new ports of call in New Caledonia.

After observing and photographing the eclipse from the ship's deck on the 14th, we will settle into a more traditional South Pacific cruise, enjoying the above-mentioned ports of call before arriving back in Lautoka, Fiji six days later..  Rather than returning home after disembarking the cruise, I decided to make arrangements to stay in Fiji a further week.  I had always wanted to experience the Yasawa Islands, located just off the NW coast of Viti Levu, where we disembark the ship, so this was an ideal time to make some arrangements to experience that part of Fiji.

Villa sun huts at Blue Lagoon Beach Resort
After much research, I decided to spend a week at the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort on Nacula Island in the Yasawas. I love to snorkel in tropical waters, and this resort offers a beautiful lagoon literally steps outside my beachfront bure (cottage).  I'm also really looking forward to meeting all the friendly Fijiians both at the resort and in the villages on the island.  Never in all my travels have I encountered more genuinely friendly people than the Fijiians. This is one of the main reasons I seem to keep returning to these islands.

My flights to Fiji from my home on the west coast of Canada entail an end to end duration of some 26 hours going to Fiji, so I will be ready for some down time upon my arrival in Nadi, Fiji.  I have arranged to arrive a couple of days before the cruise leaves, so I can relax at a resort nearby to the departure port for the Paul Gauguin. The return trip home isn't much better, with a duration of some 24 hours end to end.  This is the price to pay for experiencing paradise - and a total solar eclipse observed from a luxury cruise ship sailing warm Pacific waters!

No comments: