Every part of a boat’s design has its purpose. The bow, or its streamlined front, should be facing the water’s movement. In other words, the boat should be traveling in the direction of the bow. At the same time, the stern, the flat end at its back, should be away from the water’s movement.

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So, what would happen if you anchor your boat from the stern? The boat will swamp.

Multiple Dangers

Several possible dangers can occur when anchoring from the stern.

  • The boat will be subjected to greater strain since the stern will be facing the wind and water, a strain coming from more resistance to these natural elements. 

  • The flat cabin doors will also be subjected to greater stress. If there is more stress on the boat’s top part, then there will the more stress on the cabin itself. There’s also the matter of water coming in from the severe flooding of the cabin that, in turn, can contribute to capsizing.

  • The stern’s mechanical parts are designed to move water from the bow to the stern. Now, if the water moves from the stern to the bow, these parts are likely to sustain significant damage, especially in strong currents. The rudder, for example, can break when it’s forced to work opposite its intended design, not to mention that it can also damage the hull.

The primary danger in anchoring from the stern depends on the failure to make the appropriate adjustments in case of changes in wind or water direction. Again, it can result in water filling the boat, perhaps even sinking it under extreme conditions.

Steps for Proper Anchoring

But anchoring the boat from the bow isn’t the first step in proper anchoring either.

  • Choose an area for anchoring the boat, preferably one with plenty of room for maneuvering. The ideal area is a well-protected one with sufficient water depth and either a muddy or a sandy bottom (i.e., for ease of sinking the anchor).

  • Point the boat up current or upwind but do so slowly until it’s in the area you selected for anchoring.

  • Once in position, turn off the motor to stop the boat.

  • Lower the anchor slowly over the bow until it reaches the bottom.

  • Back the boat down current or downwind slowly as anchoring shouldn’t be a rushed job. Let out 7 to 10 times of the anchor line about the water’s depth; use the wave size and the strength of the wind to determine the correct slack. 

  • Tie off the anchor line around a bow cleat before pulling on the anchor line. Check that the anchor is set before doing anything else.


Keep in mind that anchoring your boat from the bow is an essential skill, and as such, you have to master it before setting out on your own.

You will find plenty of tips and tricks in Earl R. Hinz’s The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring Paperback.