A Full Total Solar Sun Eclipse was due to happen on the May 31, 1965 on the island of Manuae in the Cook Islands which was the most favoured land position for observing this phenomenon and the island of Manuae is comprised of two beautiful atolls located near the island of Aitutaki which is also in the Cook Islands.
New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, USA, Germany, Japan and Russia all sent teams of scientists with the island of Manuae as their base - an atoll of 1524 acres. At the time, the atoll’s normal population was a score of copra labourers however, on May 30 1965, there were also another 85 scientists and their assistants also on the island.
Unfortunately on the day, clouds obscured the sun and scientific observations from the island itself were consequently restricted their view.
The New Zealand Government Motor Vessel 'Moana Roa' was in port at Rarotonga and she sailed the night before and steamed to the World's Most Ideal Spot in the ocean - the very best place on earth to witness this Once In A Life-Time phenomenon. The Moana Roa carried 50 passengers plus the ships crew and I was lucky enough to be the Senior Ordinary Seaman on the G.M.V. Moana Roa. It was a marvelous experience, which happened around 10am on a beautiful morning. The sky was crystal clear and I have never forgotten it to this day.
A Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth and the Moon and in this case fully covers the Sun as viewed from our ideal ocean location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. Slowly the sun before totality, that's when the sun is totally obscured by the moon's shadow... a total solar eclipses is nevertheless very rare at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth's surface traced by the Moon's umbra.
What a sight it was and a Total Solar Eclipse can be a little bit frightening for some people who are unaware of their astronomical explanation - because as the Sun seems to disappear during the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes and then all of a sudden - it night time; then it all starts to reverse until it's fully day light again.
To be among the relatively few people on Earth to actually stand in the Moon's shadow to witness a total solar eclipse is a rare and privileged. I can also remember it being very eerie and having a very, very strange feeling about it, as it happened that morning.