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Stern anchors and four reasons you should have one

by Des Ryan on 6 Jul 2009
Stern anchor - one of the favourites, the Danforth SW
One of the favourite discussion subjects among cruising sailors in sundowners is about anchors. They, after all, are the little items that can give you a good night's sleep, or, if they give way, put you on the rocks. The lowly stern anchor is often left out, but a stern anchor can be an excellent addition to the bag of tricks that every cruising sailor needs for safe and pleasant cruising.

Normally about half the size of your main anchor, the stern anchor likes to be within easy reach on the stern deck if possible. This means that a Danforth style of anchor is popular, as it fits neatly on the stern of many cruising boats.

Unless you will be anchoring among coral heads regularly, the anchor rode can have a minimum length of chain and a fairly light nylon line.

While there are many uses for a stern anchor, here are four prime ones to keep in mind, and four good reasons to keep one on your boat:

Version 1:
In cruising grounds like rivers where you often anchor in narrow channels with strong and alternating tidal flows, there are two ways to anchor to keep the boat under control. Either you set two anchors from the bow in opposite directions, or you can use a light stern anchor to hold the boat steady and keep it from swinging with the flow of the current.

Version 2:
Anther use for stern anchors is in very tight anchorages, where there is not enough room for a 360 degree swing for all the boats. By common consent, all boats can put out a stern anchor, thus allowing many more to fit into the same area. Naturally, this requires a lot of agreement among the yachts that is sometimes unobtainable, but necessity and camaraderie can override objections in remote anchorages.

Version 3:
In anchorages that face the open sea, you often will have swell rolling in that does not line up with the wind angle so a boat on one anchor will lie beam onto the rollers, which can be mighty uncomfortable. A stern anchor will hold the bow to the rollers instead of into the wind, which will make it easier to get a night's sleep.

Version 4:
Then of course there is bow-to med mooring, particularly useful in circumstances where the provided dock is not suitable for a yacht alongside (There may be jagged protrusions) In this case you drop the stern anchor as you motor into the pier and then make the boat fast with two bow lines and the stern anchor.

The ability to deploy a stern anchor under certain conditions adds an extra dimension to your anchoring, eases the way, no matter in what circumstances you find yourself, and is easily retrieved by dinghy.

Make sure you have one on board when next you leave familiar waters.

Henri-Lloyd 2022 November - Gore-Tex - SW FOOTERMcConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTER

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