After kicking around the California coast for a year or so, Bill met Valerie, fell in love, and they both sailed off into the sunset.
Well it wasn't quite like that, but pretty close. Bill and Valerie sailed down the coast to San Diego where they promptly filled up their boat with everything they could ever need and headed south for Mexico. No plans, just sail down and see how they like it.
And, they must have liked it because six years later they have covered some 20,000 miles zig zagging across the Pacific - Mexico, French Polynesia, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu (New Hebrides before independence), New Caledonia and New Zealand. Plans for the upcoming season include a trip back into the islands possibly going as far north as the Solomon Islands and then westward to Australia.
Unlike most cruising boats, HardOn III has spent two summers in the cyclone belt - either in Vanuatu or New Caledonia. So far they have been through 8 cyclones and have developed their own techniques for sheltering and anchoring. Bill says: "One of my best investments was a book by the noted marine writer, Earl Hinz titled 'Anchors and Anchoring'. It gave me an excellent background on anchoring techniques.
Bill says that for his boat a 'tandem anchor' configuration on a single all chain rode seems to work best for those occasions when you really need sticking power. He shackles his 44 lb Bruce anchor to about 4 meters of 3/8 chain. Then, he attaches the other end of the chain to the eye on his normal 45lb CQR anchor. So, he has two hooks on one rrode. In a blow, he choses a spot in about 30 feet of water, drops both anchors carefully - making sure they are set well - then lets out 120 feet of his 3/8 chain. At the 120 foot point, he shackles a length of 5/8 inch nylon to the chain and continues to let out both the chain and the nylon rode. He says that the idea is to get about 240 feet of chain out (a scope of about 8 to 1) and bring the nylon up tight so that the second half of the chain goes slack. In that way, the nylon rode acts like a shock absorber and reduces the shock load on the anchors. Tthe extra weight of the slack chain also acts as a variable weight 'kellet' which absorbs even more of the shock.
Bill warns: "Remember that every boat behaves differently in a big blow, and you need to fine tune what works best for you. So, don't tell everyone that 'my way' is the only way to do it just because I've used this technique with success. You have to make your own judgements!"
"About 20 miles offshore from New Zealand, my engine quit after 4 days of continuous use. The wind was almost nonexistent. Night was rapidly falling and so I decided that I could let the engine work go until morning. We just drifted along, sails flapping, hardly making a half knot. It was a beautiful night; the moon was nearly full. Valerie and I sat in the cockpit just enjoying the sea and thinking about the successful end to another passage.
Not long after, I spotted a ship on the horizon. Going below, I flipped on the Radar and checked its position and course. It was going to pass well to seaward of our position. Great! But, less than five minutes later, I looked up again and was startled to see its white 'ranging lights' in line. He had changed course towards me! A check with my binoculars sent a shiver down my spine - I could see both his Red and Green lights! Collision course - no power and no wind!"
"The next few minutes stretched into hours, as I reached for the VHF microphone and gave him a call. Nothing. I flipped the SSB onto 2182 KHz and gave another call. Again, nothing! Another quick visual check - no course changes, still heading dead for me!"
"I turned on every light on the boat, flashed my 500,000 CP spot light at him and then on my flapping sails. No response. Tried the VHF again; then the SSB; then prayed a bit. As he closed to within a mile, I could see his range lights weren't quite in line. He passed us not more than 100 meters away; a great wall of steel completely oblivious to our presence! No one on deck. No one, that I could see, on the bridge. I could have just as easily been another tanker, I don't think it would have mattered."
CONTACT: Reverend and Mrs. Hardon can be reached via email at Hardon III