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2009 july 22nd : Solar eclipse cruise in Japan

The 2009 july 22nd solar eclipse which lasts 6m39s is the longest of the century. We couldn’t miss this one. The only problem is it occurs in India, Shanghai and south Japan just in the monsoon season.

 The best chances of observing this eclipse are offshore Japan, where monsoon effects are weakened by the Pacific ocean. We then decided to book a 12 days cruise organized by an American travel agency on board Costa Classica.

We leave on july 17th from Tianjin Beijing port. It is raining. We are around 900 passengers, 95% American people, few germans, japaneses, iraniens and three Canadians from Quebec and three Frenchies, all eclipse chasers.

 We spend the july 18th  at sea. The weather is rainy and sultry and the China sea is quite rough. Anyway, we don’t bother ourselves. Besides the Costa team animations, we can assist a great number of conferences everyday. I will also be a speaker and tell about my solar eclipse stamps collection on july 27th.  

On july 19th, we have our first stop on Jeju island in South Korea. The weather is still moist, hot and overcast.

 On july 20th, we reach Kagoshima, south Kyushu in Japan. Sakurajima volcano, facing the city is still active but harmless for the citizens. We won’t see it as it is hidden by the clouds. The whole city is eagerly prepared for this eclipse.

We spend the full day of july 21st at sea, heading south east sailing 20 kts speed. The Pacific Ocean is really “pacific” and the weather is fine. We have a general rehearsal of the tomorrow eclipse on the decks, setting and fixing our instruments and timing.

 It is the D day. We sail along Iwo Jima island. American veterans are living a great emotion. It is also moving hearing the story of this terrible battle.  

No fear regarding the weather. Just for the fun, we will be sailing reverse, then we’ll have 96 hundredth second extra totality.

 Everybody is fixing the last details. 

The crew joins us on the decks.

12h03m06s. First contact. We are ready to enjoy 6m40s of happiness

The sky is turning darker. The colours are metallic.

 12h26m40s. Totality. It is so magnificent, and it lasts, lasts, lasts ...

The corona is superb. Binoculars reveal wonderful coronal jets. As usual, the emotion is great.

 13h33m20s. It is over. We are still affected by the magic of this eclipse. The crew is very excited, most of them never saw an eclipse before.

 We are not the only ones cruising along the totality path. Asuka II Japanese cruise ship meets us. Both cruise ships have long foghorn calls while crossing.

 We spend the july 23rd at sea. Many eclipse chasers are showing their pictures and movies in the conference hall.

 July 24th. We arrive at Kobe. We will stay two full days. I am particularly touched when visiting the earthquake museum. Kobe was totally destroyed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 1995 january 17th at5.46 AM. The city is entirely rebuilt.

 It is time to return to China. We spend july 26th and 27th at sea, and China sea is still rough. We return into monsoon, and it is raining when we berth at Tianjin port on july 28th.

 We spend one more night aboard and definitely leave the ship on july 29th. We’ll spend some more days in Beijing before returning to Paris and plan our next eclipse trip.

© 2001 Martine TLOUZEAU et Jean-Paul GODARD. Tous droits réservés

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