St. Elmo's Fire

It was hot and humid that night, sticky. In the distance thunder and lightning were giving a show where the ocean meets the land, but overhead the Sunset Dawn there still were clear skies.

Rose looked up. ”What the Hell?!” From the mast tops and the tips of the yardarms, a blueish purple glow was visible.
Jack by his captain's outcry looked up too. “Ah! Nice! St. Elmo’s fire. I’ve read about that, but never dreamed I’d ever see it myself.”
“Fire?” Rose alarmed asked slightly worried.

“No, that’s just the name. It’s like a form of static electricity. The same as when you take off a wool sweater, or when you rub your hair with a balloon. It’s a sign of static discharge. In different cultures, it was either a good or a bad omen for sailors.
It could signal a lightning strike, but with the thunder going on all the way over there, I think that is unlikely. You never had that your hair got static and got up straight, captain?”

Rose was looking in awe at the purple glow that sort of resembled sparks or small lightning at occasions. “What has it to do with that Elmo, by the way?”

“St. Elmo, A.K.A. Erasmus of Formia is a patron saint for sailors. Apparently, the dude kept preaching even after being shot by lightning, and Cristian sailors at the time thought it protected them from lightning strikes if they worshipped him.”

“Some people will really never shut up…” Jack mumbled as he turned the helm to keep the ship on course.

The Bahamas are well known among sailors for their thunderstorms in the summer, when the warm and wet ocean air is blown onto the islands, and a bit further onto the coasts of Florida. Often giving a great show of continuous lightning strikes at night, while ships themselves sail in relatively calm weather.

Why the Sunset Dawn is heading for Nassau is a story for another day.


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