The Green Flash

by Leslie Godfrey in


We settled into the same swim-boat project-swim-dinner-sunset routine for several days.  We read that this anchorage is a good place to view the elusive Green Flash, an experience that is on my personal bucket list.  So, we were hoping to get a clear sunset with calm seas on at least one night while we are here.  

For those who do not know, the Green Flash is a phenomenon that happens at sunset.  The way that the sunlight passes through the atmosphere at the horizon causes the sun to briefly flash green or sometimes blue.  I have read that you can see it from land, too, but not as often.  It is a phenomena best viewed near or at sea. If you have seen Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, they flip their sailboat over and into the underworld in the moment of the Green Flash.   

I have been watching for the green flash ever since we departed San Diego.  There were so many nights at sail that I thought we might see it, but instead, a big pink sun fell like an easter egg.  Tonight, it happened!  

Like the previous four nights, we were nestled on our beanbags waiting and watching.  It is a “flash” so, if you look away you might miss it.  Near the equator, the sunset drops more quickly than at home.  The process is slow, slow, slow…then suddenly, the sun drops and it is gone.  “Maybe the green flash is the moment your retinas spontaneously combust from looking directly at the sun?”  I suggest.  

I try to look just to the right of the sun while it sinks and time my quick glances so that I will see the sun dropping below the horizon just in time.  Black spots float in my vision and I have to blink to let my eyes recover.  As the sun dropped it became little more than a sliver of orange fire.  The sky was bright yellow and the color of rust.  Then, sun sliver bubbled up and for a brief moment turned a florescence shade of lime green.  “THERE IT IS!” I yell across the peaceful anchorage.  And just like that it was gone.  Lucky for you, I kind of caught it on camera.