A hard day's night!

Terry/ Nicola Flinn
Tue 21 Aug 2012 23:45
The forecast showed that the hurricane’s winds would blow initially from the east and then shift to the north, coming first from our right and then move to our nose.
We slept fitfully, imagining the worst scenarios: would Flinesse break free from its moorings, might other boats break free and come crashing into us, would our small finger pontoon be strong enough to take the massive loads, or would our boat be damaged by flying debris?
The noise from the wind and torrential rain continued to increase, but the boat felt secure. Then about 2am there was a terrific bang, just like a shot from a gun and we assumed one of the older, weaker ropes might have snapped. It turned out that the lanyard on our largest, fattest fender had broken under the strain.
We watched the barometer falling like a stone, over 11 millibars in just 10 hours, a sure indication of the approach of the hurricane and the certainty of extremely strong winds. Still the boat felt secure and we decided to stay on board.
Just  before first light, with the wind and rain at full blast, we saw the barometer level out and then, slowly, it  began to rise; the storm was moving away. Then the barometer shot up 4 millibars in a single hour, the rain stopped and the winds began to diminish. A quick inspection at first light showed that everything in the marina was ok and we even managed to retrieve our errant fender from the far end of the basin. We settled back down for some decent sleep; we had survived Gordon. 
Apparently, the winds had peaked at 60 mph, but at Santa Maria, 50 miles to the south, they had gusted up to 120!
It took us all the rest of Monday to refit the sails, the canopy and all the other bits and pieces we had taken down, including our wind instruments, which meant another trip for Nicola to the top of the mast in the bosun’s chair.
A quick trip to the supermarket was followed by a celebratory beer at the waterfront cafe and then the evening was ended with an excellent bbq in lovely, calm sunshine; what a contrast!
We had an early night in anticipation of a prompt departure from the Azores on Tuesday morning.