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Saturday 17 July 2010 | Published in Regional

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Local amateur astronomer Phil Evans and his wife Wendy watched last weekend’s solar eclipse from aboard a ship in the Tuamotus, and said the experience was “absolutely delightful”.

They boarded the Aranui 3, a cargo ship which ferries freight between Papeete and the Marquesas, and spent the two weeks building up to the eclipse at sea.

The Evans joined a group of 200 passengers almost all were dedicated eclipse-chasers, and one was editor of Astronomy Magazine.

The couple planned the cruise 18 months ago and said that the trip was “so fabulous” that they wouldn’t have been heartbroken had they missed the eclipse.

But from the Aranui 3, the Evans experienced four minutes and 30 seconds of totality.

“I was just so spellbound I forgot to keep clicking (taking photos),” Phil said. “There were people yelling – everyone was spellbound.”

The cruise travelled through the Marquesas and the Tuamotus, stopping off at low pearl-producing atolls and the soaring cliffs of the Marquesas to let passengers wander, and the itinerary included culture lessons as well as astronomy lectures.