White puffy clouds filled the blue sky on eclipse day, and we eyed them nervously. The odds of the eclipse being obscured looked higher than 50-50, and prompted much discussion among the organizers.
Ashore, chances for good weather were fair—but if cumulus clouds formed, we were SOL unless it was sufficiently windy. Those on land would at least be ensured a fun day playing on the beach, or we could shop in the clean, touristy, Netherlandic town while we waited for totality.
Option 2: remain aboard the maneuverable ship that could be positioned under a cloudless patch in the sky at 2:09. The downside was a drag, though: no special area was reserved by the tour group—meaning jostling for position with the 2000 non-astronomers also on board—and there would be fewer diversions during the long hours of partiality.
I pitted out over this decision, and in the end Susan and I decided to roll the dice and accept the offer to stake out a section of beach in Oranjestad, Aruba, where we could snorkel DePalm Island. At 7:30 a.m. we waved goodbye to the Fascination, sailing south toward improved chances (and a longer TSE near the centerline).
It was definitely a nail-biter with clouds overhead all day, but the sky cleared beautifully for totality. There were happy smiles all around when the ship docked to pick us up; skies were clear at sea as well.
Above: Ominous clouds (cue the theme from Jaws)
Welcome to have fun at DePalm Island
Three for three!