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What is the Major Danger of Anchoring a Fishing Boat from the Stern?

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If you look at the shape of a boat, then it’s easy to assume there are only two places that you can tie an anchor from. You could do it on the front side or on the backside. Or, in more correct terms, the bow or the stern.

At first glance, it seems it doesn’t matter whether you tire your anchor from the stern or the bow. However, experienced fishermen will tell you that it’s dangerous to tie the anchor from the stern for many reasons.

“What’s the big deal?” you may ask. Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss in the article. On top of that, you’ll learn a few crucial tips and tricks when it comes to anchoring a boat properly.

Dangers of Anchoring from the Stern

To understand the importance of the subject, you should start imagining a boat floating in a non-moving body of water. In this case, anchoring from the bow or stern seems to make no difference. And it’s true. If you’re in a body of water that’s very calm and non-moving, there’s little danger if you anchor from the stern. However, we all know that not all waters are non-moving and calm.

Now imagine a boat floating in water that’s moving and confronting high winds. Then, imagine tying the anchor from the bow. As the water and wind hit the boat, try to visualize how the boat moves. On the other hand, try visualizing anchoring from the stern. Again, try imagining how the boat behaves as water and wind are presented into the picture.

From the visual exercises above, it’s now easier to see why anchoring from the stern is dangerous. When the wind and water hit the boat, and you’re anchoring from the bow, then it’s easy to predict that the boat will start moving to present its frontside to face the elements.

However, if you anchor from the stern, the opposite happens. The boat will present its backside to confront the water and wind.

Since the front side of the boat is shaped in a way that it’s streamlined to help cut it through wind and water, it diverts a lot of the upcoming force towards the sides and around the boat.

Hence, this significantly reduces the stress that’s exerted upon the point where you tie the rope that’s connected to the anchor. However, the same cannot be said if you anchor from the stern.

Fishing Boat Backside

For most fishing boats, the backside is never shaped to be streamlined. In fact, it’s the part of the boat where you’ll see plenty of vertical walls. This shape is horrible at diverting oncoming force. As a result, the boat will be receiving a lot more pressure coming from the wind and water.

This will then exert a tremendous amount of pressure to the point where the rope is tied. If the force is too much, the rope will snap, or the rope will rip off a part of the boat. Either way, you’ll be floating in the water without an anchor, which can then lead to problematic or even dangerous scenarios.

The shape of the lower side of the boat is another thing to point out. On the front side, the underside is shaped like a half cone. When the water flows around it, it causes the boat to rise above the water. If you tie the anchor from the bow and the water begins flowing into the boat, the shape will push the boat upwards. On the other hand, the stern is an entirely different scenario.

The stern usually doesn’t have this half cone shape that the bow has. As a result, it won’t rise above the water when the water flows into it. Likely, it will sink down and cause the water to flow into the boat. Of course, you don’t want the water to fill your boat if you plan on staying afloat.

Location of the Doors

Another thing that you need to consider is the location of the doors on a boat. In most cases, the doors are either located on the sides or the back. You’ll seldom see entries at the front side of the boat.

As the boat moves forward, the front side will receive the brunt of the wind flow. Thus, placing a door on the front side of the boat is hazardous. If you tie an anchor from the bow, it will face the wind when things get rough. Since there are no doors at the front side, it will be a bit safer.

Now, if you tie an anchor from the stern, the backside will be exposed to the wind and elements. In most boats, doors are located on the backside. Thus, if you tie from the stern and things get rough, the passengers will be exposed to more hazardous scenarios by merely doing the act of opening and closing doors. Getting slammed by the door or being more challenging to open or close due to strong winds are only a few of the many problematic scenarios.

Also, don’t forget about the underside of the boat. On the bow side, there’s nothing that’s protruding into the water. The same can’t be said on the stern side as that’s where the rudder and propellers are located if you tie from the stern, It’s a lot easier for the rope to find the propeller or rudder and then cause mayhem.

A Short Guide to Anchoring

Now that you know that it’s not a good idea to tie an anchor from the stern, below are a few guidelines on the proper way of doing it.

Always be careful where you drop the anchor. You’d want to have as much space as possible both below and above water. The depth should also be ideal. Sandy and muddy bottom are your best bet for safe anchoring.

Before you drop anchor, you’d want to take note of the direction of the current and wind. You’d want to turn the boat slowly to face the boat upwind or up current.

Now that you have reached the ideal position, stop the boat’s movement, and begin dropping the anchor. Again, you don’t want to tie the anchor from the boat’s stern.

Once the anchor hits the bottom, you’d want to move downwind or down current slowly. You’d want to let loose of the rope to give it room. As a rule of thumb, you’d want to let loose eight to ten times the distance of the water depth.

Keep in mind that this is just a general guideline as factors such as wind, current strength, and wave size can affect the ideal length. Once that’s done, tie the rope around the boat’s cleat that’s located at the bow. Give it a good pull to ensure that it’s tight and set.

Once anchored, keep an eye for possible landmarks on the shore or buoys. You’d want to do this to give you a good idea if the boat is moving or not while anchored.

How to Anchor Your Boat

If the rope that’s tied to the anchor makes use of several pieces knotted together, make sure it’s tight and secure. Better yet, you’d want to opt for splice as using knots tends to weaken the rope quicker.

Make sure you know the type of anchor to use. In most cases, you’d want a plow, mushroom, or danforth.

Attaching a galvanized chain to the anchor is recommended as it helps protect it from abrasions that might be caused by sand, mud, or rock. Three feet to six feet should be enough.

When anchoring, look for an area that can provide the maximum amount of shelter from wind, currents, and boat traffic.

Before you drop anchor, make sure that you already have a good idea about the depth of the water; and what’s the bottom like – whether it’s rocky, muddy or sandy. You’d want to stay away from rocky bottoms if you can as it’s easier for the anchor to get stuck.

You shouldn’t throw the anchor into the water. The chances are higher that the ropes will get entangled if you do this. You’d want to drop the anchor to the bottom.

Final Thoughts

For the inexperienced, it’s easy to assume that tying an anchor from the bow or stern doesn’t make a big difference. After reading this article, you already know the reasons why you should tie from the bow. And, tying from the stern can be even dangerous for both the boat and passengers.

The front side of the boat is designed and shaped to be streamlined and force wind and water to go around it. Thus, you’d want the front side to face the current or wind. You can only do that if you anchor from the bow.

The stern usually doesn’t have that streamlined design of the bow. Thus, it’s terrible to make the stern face the current or wind as it will cause a plethora of problems. Not only that, but the rudder and propeller are located in the stern area. If you tie an anchor from the stern, it’s easier for the rope to cause damage to the rudder or propeller.

Lastly, don’t forget about the guide and tips for anchoring, as it will help you avoid problems so you can enjoy the water headache-free.

David Miller

My name is David and I have been an outdoor guy for as long as I can remember. I have a strong passion for the great outdoors in general and specifically camping. I am the kind of person who spends more time outdoors than indoors. I am a staunch believer in the fact that outdoor life should be well lived because it's in the natural, serene, and untamed wild that we find out who we truly are. Let’s take the journey together.

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