Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

January 20, 2019; a total lunar eclipse. Did you see it? 

A super moon appears up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual 
because it’s at a point in its orbit at when it’s closest to Earth.  
Pre-eclipse moonrise, January 20, 2019, Palm Bay, Florida.

Here in Palm Bay Florida, this supermoon didn’t seem as boldly dramatic as some other full moons we viewed in the past (like this one over the Nullarbor, in the Australian Outback). Still, it was a lovely moon on a clear night.  We popped out about every 15 minutes to half an hour to take in the whole eclipse.

My intended spot to watch the eclipse. Instead the view outside our home worked out great for viewing
and much warmer on that cool eve.

It was a celestial lunar trifecta – a total eclipse of a supermoon, a wolf moon also loosely described as a blood moon

Image courtesy

When full moons occur in January,Native Americans and colonial Europeans called them wolf moons, as the winter’s sparse food supplies drove the wolves to howl,  according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac,  

Total lunar eclipse: Earth’s full (umbral) shadow falls on the moon. The moon won’t completely disappear, but it will be cast in an eerie darkness that makes it easy to miss if you were not looking for the eclipse. Some sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere is scattered and refracted, or bent, and refocused on the moon, giving it a dim glow even during totality. If you were standing on the moon, looking back at the sun, you’d see the black disk of Earth blocking the entire sun, but you’d also see a ring of reflected light glowing around the edges of Earth — that’s the light that falls on the moon during a total lunar eclipse.  — (image downloaded from Pixabay)

I didn’t take eclipse photos, trusting much better equipped and positioned photographers to do a much better job.

Journey on passage from New Zealand to Fiji… pre-moonrise.

We wondered
As we watched this magnificent lunar eclipse, January 20, 2019we wondered what it would’ve been like had we been cruising on one of our many overnight sailboat passages. 

Eclipses of yesteryear

The moon took on the color and lustre of a copper penny from our vantage point in Palm Bay, Florida
in the total lunar eclipse.  Photo credit: Pixabay.

There’s a high likelihood like the Jamaican natives Christopher Columbus duped, we wouldn’t have known it was coming. 
Columbus had an almanac which predicted a lunar eclipse on Feb. 29, 1504. He used the information to frighten natives on Jamaica into feeding him and his crew. He met the local chief, and told him the Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying food. Columbus said to expect a sign of God’s displeasure three nights later, when he would make the full moon appear “inflamed with wrath.” When the blood-red moon manifested, the natives were terrified, and quickly began resupplying the crew.
Christopher Columbus Illustratration from Grand voyages (1596) by Theodor de Bry (1528 – 1598)

Just before the total phase of the eclipse was about to end, Columbus said God had pardoned the natives and would bring the moon back. The crew was well fed until help arrived in November and Columbus and his men sailed back to Spain.
Unlike Columbus, eclipses are not something it would’ve occurred to us to track up front. We were often without internet access. When underway, we certainly wouldn’t have found out about it most other ways found out — from friends, tv, newspapers or radio.
Moonrises and night skies on overnight passages
We also found out we weren’t the only startled cruisers sure some gigantic cruise ship that neglected to register its presence on the AIS (automatic identification system) was bearing down on us, only to realize, sheepishly, that it was simply a moonrise.

Milky Way, image courtesy

Night watches on clear, calm nights struck us as magical. As spectacular as a full moon could be, painting a silvery path across the water, we sometimes resented its ability to shed so much light it stole our ability to fully appreciate the celestial star show.  Only the desert sky comes close to rivaling our view of that amazing blanket of stars known as the Milky Way. As we made our way across the seas the stars were our guide (though in truth we did rely far more on our GPS). We felt vulnerable and alone, yet at the same time connected in a flow of an earth and a universe some much greater than ourselves. It’s an unforgettable experience, that touches you to your very core.
Beyond science, to spirituality 
Fort Drumm, Florida. Looking up for inspiration and direction on my path forward.
Whether land or sea, nature is where I turn to as I search for my own place in the world.

Currently, I am in the throes of just that. Today is my birthday, It’s what I consider the start of my new year, a fresh page.

I am happy to bid 2018 and more behind. The last year and a half have been among my most difficult. 

I returned to a much changed and very divided country after five years of travel without a clear plan. I lost both my parents less than seven months apart from each other (more about that in a future post – the most recent loss was Dad, in mid-December). Wayne and I weathered challenges far more difficult than any storm we encountered at sea, still struggling with figuring out what “home” is for us. My personal writing muse is still in semi-hibernation.

Where will this new year lead? I believe it will be someplace better, and am taking steps to make it so. I trust in myself, the goodness of others (that includes you) and the cosmos. 

Despite the somewhat somber tone of this post, I am incredibly grateful for my friends, my colleagues and the time I was able to spend with my parents in their final years and days.

Wish me luck and success, as I do for you.  Be good to yourself. And get ready for the next celestial light show and whatever paths it may open for you….

If you missed this supermoon…
All three of the first full months of 2019 are supermoons. The next supermoon arrives on February 19, 2019 and then the next March 21, 2019.

Lunar eclipse diagram from

Want to catch the next total lunar eclipse?
the next total lunar eclipse is not until the early hours of May 26, 2021. It’s also only going to be red for 15 minutes, far less than the 62 minutes the ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ gave us.
On May 26, 2021, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from the western coasts of North America, from Australia, and from China. However, the ‘blood moon’ part of the event will last barely 15 minutes. That’s caused by the Moon only just creeping into the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra. The Moon may remain fairly bright for the whole event, and perhaps not go as red as it often does. 
Another will occur on May 16, 2022, according to astronomers without borders.
Astrophotographer Yuri Beletsky captured the blood moon peeking through
some foliage during a break in the cloud-covered sky over Santiago, Chile. January 20, 2019