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Learn to SAIL BUZZARDS BAY then sail the world
By J. & R. Limantas

Rainbow! A cry heard on many a rainy day as the sun breaks through with promises of good weather to come. I have seen a rainbow at sea. “So…” you may say, “What is so strange about that? Rainbows can be seen in many places around the world. You do not need to sail the oceans in a small boat to see them.” “But,” my reply would be, “have you seen a rainbow at night?”

On a clear night in the South Pacific Ocean under a full moon, I saw a rainbow arcing across the sky. Awe-struck, my first thoughts were, that many would not believe me. Mirage, seeing things and optical illusion would be the responses to my sighting. After rubbing my eyes and viewing this wondrous night vision again, I called out to my watch mate to come and witness what I had observed. Many miles later in Sydney, Australia, when I told stories of this rainbow, my mate confirmed, that I had indeed seen this natural phenomenon in the oceans of the southern hemisphere.

Falling back on science, the night rainbow can be explained. Sir Isaacs Newton performed experiments using a prism. He shone a narrow beam of light through a prism in a darkened room. White light is made up of seven colors and when bent, it splits into the spectrum, thus making a rainbow. This occurs naturally when it rains and the sun shines nearby. The rain drops acts as a prism breaking the light into its colors.

What occurred after midnight as we sailed across the Southern Pacific ocean? A small cloud discharged a light rain and at the same time the full moon shone brightly. The whitish moonlight broke into the color spectrum or rainbow, as was discussed earlier. It was not as clear as a daytime rainbow, but there was no doubt that it occurred. Although based on scientific principles, it was magical. Several years later, I saw night rainbows two more time in the Caribbean. The combination of clear skies and passing showers combine to cause this effect, but the first night rainbow was the most unforgettable.

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