How to Choose a Stern Anchor
There is nothing particularly special about a stern anchor; a stern anchor is just an anchor deployed from the stern. So why are we writing about them then you may ask? While stern anchors are not a special type of anchor, knowing how to use them effectively, as part of an anchoring strategy, is important.
There are essentially two roles for stern anchors in your ground tackle setup: emergency and non-emergency.
As an emergency anchor, you will want the stern anchor readily accessible and easy to deploy. Consider mounting the anchor on stern rails or stanchions with an anchor holder. Purpose-built stern anchor rollers are available for stern anchor configurations as well. Wherever you store your anchor, be sure your rode is carefully coiled or rolled so as to prevent any tangling in an emergency situation.
As a non-emergency anchor, your stern anchor’s job is to keep your boat from swinging and/or keep it oriented into the swell to reduce rolling. The former is especially important if you know you will be anchoring in narrow rivers and inlets with other boaters. It also helps ensure your bow anchor stays set. The latter will give you a good night’s sleep!
Choosing a Stern Anchor
Choosing a stern anchor is similar to choosing your primary anchor. Consider the size of your boat and the bottom you will be using the anchor in, and go with the anchor that is most suitable. For example, if you have a 40’ boat and will be in areas with sandy seafloors, a 22 lb Fluke or Danforth is the best anchor for the job. We have guides to help you choose the best anchor for your boat. One notable difference between bow and stern anchors is that your stern anchor is not going to be doing most of the work, so, in general, one size down from the anchor you use at the bow is sufficient. You may also be able to get away with less chain in your rode, because you won’t be swinging, and therefore there will little danger from abrasion. Less chain means easier tackle to haul.
Stern anchors are best used as part of an overall anchoring strategy. Use them in combination with your bow anchor to keep your boat from swinging and to keep it from lying abeam to the swell. Also consider having a stern anchor for emergency use. You’ll be thankful to have one deployed when you wake up from a sound sleep to see that a storm in the night took your fellow single-anchor boaters onto the rocks!