The Major Danger of Anchoring a Fishing Boat From The Stern (2022)

old anchor on a fishing boat by the sea
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    When going out fishing, safety should be one of your primary goals. The last thing you want to happen is some sort of awful accident where you’re stranded, or have your boat capsize.

    That’s why knowing when and where to properly lower your anchor is such an important step in boat safety. In this article, we’ll explain why you should never anchor your boat from the stern, the dangers of it, and what you should do instead. 

    The Greatest Danger: Swamping

    Probably the worst thing that can happen due to negligent boating is something known as swamping. Swamping, in simple terms, means that your boat fills up with water, but remains floating. But how does such a thing happen, and what can it lead to? 

    Well, as you might know, the motor of a fishing boat is very heavy. On top of that, anchors are also very heavy. Therefore, releasing the anchor from the stern will cause extra strain on the back of your boat as well as adding extra weight.

    This can cause your boat’s stern to face the direction of the wind and be impacted by waves carried by it. You have to remember that fishing boats are generally light, compared to other boats such as pontoons. Therefore, the strain from the anchor being dropped off the stern causes a huge imbalance, which causes swamping.

    Shipwreck in fish boat port

    It doesn’t take long for swamping to turn into sinking if one doesn’t act quickly.

    If you don’t act quickly, this can lead to some very serious consequences. Probably the absolute worst thing that can happen due to swamping is the sinking of your boat. The water may fill up too quickly and you won’t have time to try and pull up the anchor or bail out the water to keep your boat afloat.

    This can be very scary, especially if you’ve taken your boat out on open waters in a large lake and are not near any shallow water or shore. If you’re having some difficulty understanding, imagine this scenario: You and a friend of yours decide to take your brand new fishing boat out for the first time.

    Let’s assume you both have some degree of boating safety knowledge and everything is going smoothly at first. However, things go wrong once you get to your fishing spot. As you’re getting your rods and tackle ready, you decide to drop anchor.

    You’re a bit too excited to get right into fishing, so you just drop your anchor off of the stern of your boat. On calm waters, this might not be a problem, however, the wind starts to pick up in your area. The both of you, eagerly fishing near the bow of the boat, sitting comfortably and enjoying the day, do not notice what’s happening near the stern.

    The wind causes waves to get higher, just enough to start splashing water into the boat. Little by little, your boat’s stern is being filled up with water. Before either of you notice, the stern of the ship is now being weighed down by all of the water and is about to be submerged.

    Eventually, that exact thing happens and your boat begins to rapidly fill with water. Before you know it, your boat has sunk and now you’ve got to find a way to get back to shore. 

    Other Possible Dangers

    Swamping is not the only reason that you should never anchor from the stern. There are three other possible dangers that may come about from improper anchoring. We’ll go over them now. First of all, your fishing boat’s stern is not made to face the water’s movements or the wind.

    The bow of your boat is designed with being able to cut through the water and being aerodynamically sound. Therefore, if you have the flat, box-shaped stern facing the water it can put unnecessary strain on your boat. By anchoring your boat at the stern, you also run the risk of rudder damage.

    Essentially, the anchored stern will sink a little lower into the water, causing waves to damage your rudder. If the boat was anchored from the bow, then there would be no possibility of this damage. Rudder damage can be catastrophic as it can cause leaking or you could lose the ability to steer your boat. 

    Something else that could happen because of the rudder damage is the anchor line snagging on the damaged rudder. Something like this could ultimately cause you to be unable to bring the anchor back up. The consequence of this will most likely lead to swamping of your boat. 

    Additionally, you have the possibility of capsizing. Much like how swamping works, your boat might fill up with water on one side and cause an imbalance. This can ultimately lead to your boat tipping over. While this is generally much more preferable to your boat sinking completely, if you don’t know how to correct this, it can be just as bad. 

    How To Properly Anchor Your Fishing Boat

    Now that we’ve given you all of the reasons why you should never anchor your boat from the stern, we’ll give you a guide on how to anchor properly. First of all, you’ll want an area that’s good for anchoring. A place where you know your anchor will hit the bottom with plenty of space.

    Additionally, you should anchor somewhere that has a muddy or sandy bottom. This will make it easier for the anchor to sink and catch the bottom. The next step is to make sure that your boat is pointed upwind or up-current. Remember to do this slowly, to prevent any mishaps.

    Sunset at anchor fishing boat at low tide

    After your boat is perfectly in position, you can now turn off the motor. Your next step is to then lower the anchor. Remember, this should be done over the bow of the ship. Slowly lower the anchor until it finally hits the bottom. Then you’ll want to slowly back the boat downwind or down-current.

    You’ll want to let out about seven to ten times as much anchor line as the depth of water, but that’s dependent on wave size and wind. After that, you can tie off your anchor on the bow cleat. Give the anchor line or rope a few tugs to make sure it’s caught the bottom and now you’re safe and sound! The only thing left to do is enjoy your fishing trip

    Final Verdict 

    As you can no doubt see, anchoring from the stern of your ship has some very catastrophic repercussions. You should always be sure that you’re anchoring from the bow, to avoid possible swamping, capsizing, or even sinking. Doing this will make sure you keep your shoes dry unless you’re wearing a new pair of water shoes

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.