Monday, February 14, 2005

Cruising's Holy Grail - the 'green flash'

14 February 2005

ZIHUATENEJO, Mexico - When the sun sets on the ocean and the cocktail glasses are clinking, everyone stares at the horizon (if it's clear) in hopes of seeing the green flash.

For years I thought it was sort of a 'snipe hunt' for new cruisers. People would sit in the cockpit, scorching their retinas while staring the golden orb for the last few minutes before it hit the horizon. Then they would suddenly say, 'Did you see it? Did you see it?'

Well, I have see it several times in recent years, and one of the times was right after this photo was taken in Z-town.

What is the green flash?

It's been explained to me that the phenom is caused by refraction of light rays with blue and green being the ones most easily visible. The flash is really the light rays from the already-set sun, bending over the horizon. Early birds can catch a morning green flash, though in the boating/cruising community I haven't heard of anyone whose seen the morning version. The evening cocktails might contribute a little to the group sightings, I think.

Close to the equator, the green flash is very quick, maybe a second or two. Near the poles, it can last a lot longer.

I'll stick close to the equator, thank you very much.

And when I get back to Mexico in a few weeks, I'll take the video camera out on the water to seek the green flash.

Everybody needs a goal.


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