Over the years bareboat chartering in the Mediterranean, I’ve always tried to find bays that allow us to free swing on a well scoped and set anchor. However, more often than not, we’ve needed to take a stern line to shore for a variety of reasons:
- narrow bays not offering adequate space to free swing,
- bays may be too deep to achieve adequate scope for a safe night at anchor,
- crowded bays, particularly, in high season that limit space,
- precedent has already been established by the first boat into the bay.
We’ve had our share of mishaps and midnight emergency drills as well as taking our turn entertaining our fellow sailors on “bay TV”. Though similar to the med-mooring technique used in port, there’s more to consider when deciding to anchor stern-to for a restful night at anchor.
- Plan to arrive early, particularly, if a narrow bay or a bay known to be a popular anchorage,
- Note expected overnight wind direction, not just to select a protect bay, but also, to choose the preferred shoreline,
- Determine if the bay will be open to waves generated by passing commercial traffic,
- Identify any bollards or cringles, their condition and accessibility, on shore to secure the stern line,
- Lacking a man-made, secure mooring, seek out a solid tree or secure rock above the high tide mark to which you can secure the stern line,
- Know the number and length of mooring lines available on the bareboat charter. They never seem to be long enough.
- Note the depth close into shore and any submerged obstacles. The rocky coastlines of much of the Mediterranean usually provide plenty of depth near-shore
- Finally, determine bay depth to calculate the scope needed to properly secure the anchor. In narrow bays you will be dropping the anchor closer to the opposite shoreline than you might otherwise consider.
Choosing a stern-to anchorage
Often you will need to go deeper into bays to find water shallow enough for the length of anchor rode available on bareboat charter boats. Once a location has been selected for proper anchor scope choose the shoreline considering the following:
- Expected overnight wind direction, on the windward shore the wind pushes the boat away from the shoreline,
- Sturdy, fix object(s) to secure one or two stern lines, preferably, wrapped-around and returned to the boat to secure to the stern cleats,
- Calculate the boats final resting distance stern to shoreline allowing plenty of depth with a safe cushion before shallowing,
- In crowded anchorages consider the probability of overlapping or catching other anchors and rodes,
- Drop anchor angling the bow towards the open end of the bay to reduce wave impact.
Anchoring is very similar to the med-mooring technique with the difference being a crew member will depart the stern to take and secure the stern mooring line to shore. If you arrive early enough there will be little boat traffic and a full shoreline from which to choose your overnight location.
Dry run the manuever, particularly, noting the anchor drop zone and backing to the boat’s final position noting the distance from shore. Make sure there’s enough mooring line length to secure the boat to land and that the shore crew knows their target mooring point(s). The final decision will be whether the shore crew takes the stern line to shore in a dingy or by swimming. Needless to say, the dingy is the safest option.
- Prep and start the maneuver as you would a classic med-mooring technique,
- Once the anchor is set, continue backing and paying out rode to arrive as close to the shoreline as practical,
- Once you’ve reached a safe distance, put the engine in neutral and launch the shore crew with the windward stern line,
- stern crew should assure that the line does not foul the prop and bow crew should be ready to take up rode if the helmsmen needs to power the boat forward
- Shore crew should quickly secure the windward stern line to the target mooring,
- in calm conditions the stern line can easily be brought back to the boat to secure to the stern cleats once wrapped around the target mooring
- The bow and stern crews can now adjust the anchor rode and stern line to reposition the boat to the target postion,
- Once the target position is reached, a second stern line can be deployed to secure the boat.
- consider deploying the second line in a cross pattern
- Make sure in adjusting the boat position that the anchor scope is not reduced
- Wrapping the stern line around the shorside mooring and fixing both ends to the stern cleats makes adjusting easier and releasing the stern lines simplier
- If winds shifts or strong winds are expected during the night have a second anchor strategy thought out and ready to execute, even better deploy the second anchor in daylight.