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FishFinder 08-09-2009 08:11 PM

How to anchor with "stern-tie" single handed
I'm getting ready to go into an area (Desolation Sound, British Columbia) that apparently often requires a "stern-tie" anchoring setup. This is used in very narrow anchorages that do not have room to swing. The idea is you have normal anchor out but then a line strung from the boat's stern to something on shore (tree, rock, whatever) to prevent swinging.

I've never done this before. And everything I've read explaining it involves 2 people, one staying on-board to keep the boat in position and another going ashore to run the line. Well I'm solo this trip, and I can't figure out a way to do this by myself. Hoping somebody with experience can give advice or tell me to just not go places where this is required. Thanks.

noreault 08-09-2009 09:19 PM

I have not done this single handed. I have set the anchor for a stern tie when there is room to swing. Let the boat swing and attach the stern and pull the boat back into position.

erps 08-09-2009 10:39 PM

Noreault's method works if you have a really long stern line.

I've done it the following way several times with minimal assistance from the admiral. Set your anchor. Prepare a stern line, one end tied off to a rear cleat, the other end piled in your dink. Back towards shore while paying out additional anchor rode so you can get close to the shore you want to stern tie to. When you're close, tie off the anchor line, jump in your dinghy with the boat still idling in reverse to hold the stern close to your shore anchor point. Depending on the amount of prop walk, you may have time to get to shore soon enough to tie off the stern line before your boat walks away from your anchor point. If you're prop walk is severe, anchor out in the middle and leave the shore ties to the double handed boats.

jackdale 08-09-2009 11:00 PM

In many stern tie situations there are other boats around. I would not be adverse to asking help. Help has been offered, and accepted, by me before.


Diva27 08-10-2009 08:02 AM


Originally Posted by jackdale (Post 512501)
In many stern tie situations there are other boats around. I would not be adverse to asking help. Help has been offered, and accepted, by me before.


Best advice by far. Ask for help! I was in a busy anchorage on Georgian Bay (Great Lakes) last week and all of us typically popped our heads up like prairie dogs in the cockpit whenever somebody new wandered in and showed signs of wanting to drop an anchor right on our own. A little more communication and cooperation in any anchorage would be a big improvement.
BTW, anyone understand why some powerboats come into an anchorage, drop the hook, and then start hard reversing, ploughing up the bottom while husband and wife yell at each other, then retract said anchor and motor away? Is there some satanic manual out there advising this for getting the anchor to "set"?

jackdale 08-10-2009 09:41 AM

Normally the anchor is set at 1500 rpm.

The yelling by a couple during the anchoring process seems to be a maritime tradition. :laugher

Wiley1 08-10-2009 10:41 AM

In the tighter places like Laura Cove (north end of Desolation Sound) simply anchor in the middle of the fairway and row the line ashore as eps suggested. Tie off and then return to your boat and take up the slack. When ready to depart simply slack the line, row ashore undo tie and recover the line. Most places in Desolation Sound you will be able to see where others have stern tied to trees as they show the use. Doesn't every boat cruise with at least one line 300 ft long?

A further suggestion to anchoring up in that area: use a trip line on your anchor. Those beautiful coves were commonly used for rafting logs and the bottoms often are littered with old cable and sunken logs. Squirrel Cove (for example) is one very beautiful spot with a very littered bottom.

Have a wonderful trip!

tomaz_423 08-10-2009 12:01 PM

My cruising area is often Adriatic where this situations are normal.

You have two general situations:

1) anchorage is empty - no problem, you have a lot of space and time to do it as you want (just be careful if you leave the boat with motor in reverse - you do not want to get your stern line in your propeller)

2) anchorage is not empty - no problem, you have a lot of people willing and (some of them) able to help if you approach them well.

This worked best for me when I was asking for assistance: Come alongside your potential neighbour and politely ask them what scope they have and where their anchor lies - as you do not want to foul their rode. By being concerned to their safety they would be willing to offer help (unless they are super yacht or power boat or empty)

What worked best for me to provide help:
- if somebody asked me where my anchor was
- if somebody asked me if I can help them as they are shorthanded (or unskilled or drunk)
- if the skipper sends a woman to swim ashore with rope in her hand (works better if she is good looking or if it looks like she would not make it)
- if it looks they would bump my boat unless I help them (very efficient, but reduces chances of invitation for a drink)
- if they try more then once and do not succeed
- if I see there is only one person aboard
- if I have a motor on my dinghy in the water and I am bored
- if they anchor close to me and I want to make sure they are tied well (and far enough from me) - so we do not start bumping to each other at 2am when the wind shifts

Final remark: Always check all the work performed by other people - you would be surprised, but someone looking as old salt may just enjoy hist first time on a boat alone while the skipper went to meet some friends. They might not know how to tie a knot or they tie it around a fragile little branch.

Bilgewater 08-10-2009 01:25 PM


Originally Posted by FishFinder (Post 512466)
tell me to just not go places where this is required.

No one will ever tell you this. Some of the best places to explore up here can only be accessed using a stern tie. Your going to find that single handed stern ties become second nature. I do stern ties all the time up here and quite often single handing with no real problems. The advice you have been gives here is all very good.

I have a permanently mounted 500' sternline on a spool. You will find that this setup is very common on boats up here. It makes life a lot easier but is not a real necessity if you only do it once in a while. You should use floating line.

Have a good trip, Steve

nikolajsen 08-26-2009 06:48 PM

The Strait of Georgia and beyond is also our cruising grounds. Stern ties are very commonplace, you would be hard pressed cruising here without performing these at regular intervals.

500' of line is not too much. The idea is that you loop it around something stout and bring the bitter end back to the boat. This way you can clear out fast in an emergency without losing your line, or quietly with less hassle.

I have the willing help of my 10 year old son to go in and take care of things when we arrive, but often I do it alone too. I would hesitate leaving the engine in gear while gone from the boat, but I have considered it now and then. Never had the guts though.

When there's very little swinging room or a bit of wind or nobody around to help, I drop the anchor, set it securely in reverse then pull up enough rode again to bring the boat out in the middle of the cove, almost straight on top of the anchor. She will now swing very little, but should not drag unless there's a lot of wind. Having all the line flaked out neatly prior to coming in, or stored on a stern hung drum is part of the drill.

Often the shore anchor (tree, old wire, rusted ring) will provide too much friction to row the line back out without pulling it through on shore. Again here it's a good idea to be neat and clean with your rope work: Flake it out in the dinghy with the right end coming out the top of the stack. Flaking it on shore will almost certainly catch it on barnacles, branches, oysterbeds, what not, when rowing back.

Be calm and careful, thinking it all through. We have seen (and personally been guilty of) many botched maneuvers with lots of shouting and noisy motor use, risking to suck lines in the prop or worse.

Polypro line will float and cost less, so it might be a good choice for the stern tie. Some of the better ones are also decent to work with, while the cheap, loosely braided stuff is a major PITA.

Good luck on your trip (which probably is well underway by now?)


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