I consider myself privileged to have been boating around the waterways of Wilmington, NC for a year now and still find myself learning every time I take to the water.
One maneuver in particular that consistently challenges and tests me is securing a boat stern-to on the sandbar with two anchors. You can guarantee that every time you come to perform this maneuver that the tide will be running in one direction, wind in the other and boats will be darting in all directions. Having spectated numerous other boaters and tested many different techniques myself, the following method is in my opinion the most reliable and easy to execute. The level of difficulty associated with this maneuver varies depending on the weight of the boat. Typically, the heavier the boat the more difficult the task.
The scenario below assumes a heavy 25ft center console:
  • 25ft centre console.
  • 3 hours from low water.
  • Light wind/no wind
  • Soft and silty anchorage.
Equipment needed:
  • Bow anchor with ½ boat length of chain and at least 3 boat lengths of rope (75ft).
  • Stern anchor (50ft of rope with some chain ideally).
  • Minimum of 2 crew members + captain.
Stage 1. – Preparation
  • Stop the boat, assess the strength of tide and wind, which is dominant and how the boat reacting.
  • Choose a location with two boat lengths of clear shore line/sandbar.
  • Take note of how the other boats are lying and where their anchors are positioned.
  • Position one crew member on the bow and one at the stern.
  • Each crew member is to prepare their anchor and check the chain and rope ensuring no tangles.
  • The stern anchor rope is to be secured on the windward/tideward side of boat (port side in this case).

Stage 2. – Bow & Stern Anchor
  • Position the boat with the bow facing the stronger of either the tide or wind, this care the tide.
  • Aim to lower your bow anchor closer to the windward/tideward boat and a minimum of 2 boat lengths from shore.
  • With the bow anchor on the bottom, slowly start to let out the chain/rope whilst you drive the boat slowly towards to the beach keeping the bow into the tide.
  • Depending on the shelf of the beach you will probably need to trim up your engines as you get close to the shore.
  • Once in shallow water, with your engines in neutral, your stern anchor crew member can step off a position the stern anchor approximately level with the bow anchor.
  • This is a good time to unload leaving two crew on the boat.

Stage 3. – Boat Positioning
  • With one person on the helm, bow and stern you can now position the boat.
  • Depending on the conditions you may be able to move her with just the anchor lines, if necessary, carefully drive her forward and away from the beach.
  • As the boat moves away from the beach, take up on both bow and stern anchor lines.

Stage 4. – Rest Position
  • Using tension in the anchor lines, position the boat forward and backwards with enough depth to allow for the falling tide.
  • Before leaving the boat take time to check she has settled in a safe position clear of other boats.
  • Remember to keep a look out for when the tide changes and starts flooding back as the boats will pushed in the opposite direction.

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Opinions stated are that of Tuna’s Marine Services. They by no means represent the finite way to complete this mooring procedure. This document has been produced to act as guide and encourage discussion. Tuna’s Marine Services accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries incurred whilst practicing this manoeuvre.