Sunset at sea - Stena Stories

The Green Flash

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This year, our route Gothenburg – Kiel (Sweden – Germany) celebrates its 50th anniversary. We have asked our guests to share their memories with us, their Stena Stories, and here, Susanne B. shares her story about an extraordinary sunset.

Waiting for a celestial phenomenon shrouded in myth.

It’s a warm summer evening on 19 August 2016. My daughter and I are on the highest outside deck of the Stena Germanica, peering out into the never-ending vastness. The ship has just left the archipelago near Gothenburg and set course for our home city of Kiel.

The surface of the water glitters as if by order, and the mood of the people around us is relaxed, with the wind gently stroking our skin. Everything’s just perfect. But it’s not just for the collective desire to get photos of the sunset that we’re assiduously guarding our place at the railing. No, we’re both waiting for something special. Something that you can only see in rare and exceptional situations. When the sky is clear and you can see a long way, like tonight. And only if you’re very lucky to boot. You guessed wrong, it’s not porpoises. We’re both waiting for the mysterious “green flash”.

What is it exactly? The green flash is a natural phenomenon that you can sometimes see at sunset. At the very last moment before the solar disc sinks into the sea, there is sometimes a flash of green light on its upper edge. It’s as brief as the blink of an eye.
But it really does exist and it has been photographed. The director Eric Rohmer even integrated it into one of his films as a highlight.
This is the light my daughter and I are waiting for. And it’s for this reason that we’ve been standing up here for over an hour, postponing our dinner.

And finally it arrives. The big finale is almost here, it can only be a couple of minutes more. Cameras and smartphones are brought into position to the left and right of us. Most people stop talking and it becomes unbelievably quiet all of a sudden on deck. Everyone’s looking at the sea. The solar disc seems to be gathering its last reserves of strength to send us an amazing spectacle of light across the waves as a final goodbye.

We wait and hope. Will we see the phenomenon at all? The conditions could not be more favourable. A huge swarm of jellyfish appear in the water near the ship’s hull. Three squawking seagulls appear from nowhere. Purple shimmering wispy clouds float past, providing a dramatic backdrop.

And in a heartbeat, it’s here: our heavenly star is kissing the horizon. Suddenly it all goes really quickly. The sun disappears in such a hurry that you’d think she had an important appointment on the other side of the Earth. Her last sparkling flicker of light surrounds us with gold dust. I hold my breath. And….now! Was that a green? Or a gold? No idea. All I know is that it was magical.


We thank Susanne for her wonderful story! Have you any memories that you want to share with us? Drop us a line or two as a comment below. /ylva.