Waiting for Gordon
Terry/ Nicola Flinn
Mon 20 Aug 2012 22:42
Well, we’ve achieved our ambition of visiting all 9 Azorean Islands and so we begin to think about the passage back to Spain. We decided that Thursday was the day to Leave Ponta Delgada.
We had been watching a rather vigorous depression that looked like it might cross our track. However, by Wednesday, it was reclassified as a tropical storm and on Thursday morning, just as we awoke, ready to leave, it had become Hurricane Gordon. Although we might outrun it, prudence dictated that we stay put in San Miguel until after the weekend.
With this extra time, we decided to visit Furnas with all its geothermal attractions. On Saturday, we took the bus to Furnas lake, famous for its steaming fumaroles. Holes about 1 metre deep are dug into the hot ground and then containers of meats and vegetables are lowered into the pit and left to cook slowly for several hours.
We then hiked the 2 miles into Furnas with its hot springs, spas, bubbling waters and spectacular formal gardens. After our hot walk, we decided to relax in a spa bath before trying the famous slow cooked cozido nas caldeiras for lunch. The chicken, pork, sausage and beef, accompanied by potatoes carrots and cabbage, was delicious, with wonderful flavours and very succulent.
We wandered around town in the afternoon looking at the hot baths, bubbling pools and steaming fumaroles before visiting the famous Terra Nostra formal gardens, where we took the opportunity to
swim in the naturally heated ornamental lake.
Back in Ponta Delgada, reality struck home hard when we learnt that Gordon had now become a Category 2 hurricane and it was heading directly for us and would arrive Sunday night.
We spent all of Sunday preparing the boat, removing everything that might catch the wind, like safety equipment, the sails and the canopy. We rigged every piece of cordage that we owned, including old halyards and sheets so that the normal complement of 4 mooring lines had multiplied and became 16!
We positioned ashore a bag containing spare clothes, food, water and personal documents in case we were forced to abandon the boat.
Although by now Gordon had been downgraded back to Category 1, with expected wind speeds still expected to exceed 80 mph, it was with great misgivings we went to bed, fully clothed, not knowing what the night might bring. . . . . . .