23 August 2012

Hurricane Gordon

Almost all of my professional seafaring career was made in the domestic trade, between the Portuguese mainland and the autonomous regions of Madeira and Açores.
Having sailed for more than six years in the Açores trade, I developed a deep respect for the Azorean people and for those enchanted islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Over the course of that amount of time I collected my share of tropical storms, gales and rough weather in general, either heading to the islands or simply navigating between them. The Azorean islands are beautiful, granted. But the ocean surrounding them is a completely different story. Except for the Summer months, the weather in Açores is, in the lack of a better word, unpredictable. And stormy is a word quite often used.
Also, being the islands located in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and therefore subjected to tectonic activity, the volcanic activity and earthquakes are present everyday in the lives of its citizens.
Facing the danger on a daily basis and having developed a deep respect for these cyclopic forces of nature over the centuries, the Azorean citizens were always molded from a different steel than the rest of the portuguese population.
So, when I heard the news and found that a Class 2 hurricane was heading to the Açores I wasn't really that worried. The poor storm had to face one of the most valiant people that God placed on the surface of the good ol' Earth.
And two days before the storm arrived to the islands, all the society (citizens, police, regional government, firemen and the rest of the civil protection authorities) was already holding fast and starting the prevention procedures. To avoid bigger damages. At air, land and sea.
When the stormy winds finally passed over - except for a few mudslides and fallen trees - nothing happened.
A distracted person might say that it was sheer luck.
Knowing the Açores and the Azorean people, I, honestly, tell you that luck had nothing to do with it.