Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stern Tie Reel

When anchoring in British Columbia it is very normal to use a "stern tie", to keep your boat from swinging around the anchorage. 

In the Pacific Northwest we don't have much wind in the summer to keep all the boats aligned when anchored; with 10 to 20-feet of tidal height change between Seattle and Alaska, the chance of boats swinging and touching in a tight anchorage is too large to risk.

The solution is to run a "stern tie" line ashore, around a fixed object like a ring or tree stump, and back to the boat.  The stern line pulls the transom of your boat towards the beach, keeping your anchor line taut.  The stern lines are typically 300-400 feet long and made of 5/16" or 3/8-inch polypro line.  The inexpensive polypropylene is ideal as it floats and is normally a bright color like yellow whch makes it easy to spot if you are cruising around in your dinghy.

I have long searched for a "reel" good solution.  Many boaters will use a plastic hose reel and are embarrassed by its appearance, but appreciate its simple functionality.  If you search the internet you will find a variety of recycled line reels and PVC pipe home brew set ups, extension cord reels that don't quite hold enough line, and overly elaborate custom mounts.

Brooks Marine in Anacortes, WA makes the simplest and best I have found.  They run about $230.  Steph reports he has a few more in the shop, but is not sure if he is going to make another batch.  Brooks Marine is at 360-299-2956.  You might want to hurry!

Let me know if you have a good alternative.  Email me at

PS:  The reel pictured is aboard Forever FridayYou can buy the reel and the boat here.