STERN TIES ARE THE BOMB... just like the NWMA

posted Oct 10, 2018, 2:01 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc
Seriously.  I have no idea why I never stern tied before.  Habit?  It is true that I grew up in a monohull swinging from a single hook with the right amount of scope in a sensible amount of water.  I mean... I knew about stern tying (and the "med moor") but it never really crossed my mind to do it.  It was a technique for people who did not get up early enough to get to the next cove in time to snag a spot before everyone else did.  

Enter the NWMA.  I had heard folks talk about stern tying in shallow areas where only multihulls dare tread.  This year it sank in because among the awesome collective data that is NWMA  there were a few little tidbits of info that changed my anchoring strategy forever.  One secret spot in the Gulf Islands and my cruising life was transformed.  Not much wider than the boat and long enough to shelter it from cross winds it was the most beautiful, snug and private anchorage I have ever been in.  Holding was good, the beach was close and best of all, had we needed to anchor or pick up a buoy in the crowded bay around the point there would have been stress (of course, this is cruising in the NW so this is a relative stress level).  It was chock full of boats.  

The cherry on the summer stern tie experience was the run up to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival.   A buddy and I left Vashon Island at 7pm.  It rained hard from 9 to 10:30.  We made it under the Marrowstone Island bridge by 1:30am and once under it we were working our way through the fog towards our nighttime navigational aid... the the Siren Tavern blue balcony light.  We could not see it but knew we were getting close when big schooners started to appear and disappear in the fog like apparitions.  The place seemed positively lousy with the things.  More boats, big boats, unidentifiable boats... and suddenly a gigantic 20' floating unicorn poked its muzzle across our bow.  Shocking... it seriously had us mumbling about sleep deprivation and checking the level in the rum bottle.  Anyone who has tried to anchor during the festival knows how packed the mooring field can be... and several runs through did not come up with much.  At 2am we called it quits, dropping the anchor between boats that were far enough away only in the most lucky of circumstances and at that, only if they would not have all been monohulls.  Bumpers were deployed and we hit the bunks.  Shortly thereafter we got the expected 6am walkup call... "Hey, Ruf Duck... you are almost touching my boat!!".  As a lot of you know, in addition to hunting at anchor, multis tend to be more affected by wind and monos affected more by current. The wind and current were in just the right amounts to make us look like southbound car in a north bound lane of I-5.  We did the gracious thing and immediately raised anchor and started looking for a better spot.  Of course, the situation had not improved between 2am and 6am and there was absolutely no space available on the south side of the eel grass exclusion zone (no anchoring permitted) in any depth of water that we could reach with our rhode.  The solution?  Stern tie!  It was low tide, so we knew there was nowhere to go but up.  The anchor was dropped well past the eel grass zone and we backed the boat to within 10' of a street end beach in just under three feet of water and tied the stern off to some riprap.  It was like a back stage pass... a weekday helicopter commute to downtown Seattle... finding a parking spot on Capitol Hill... it was the shortest dingy ride to the show I had ever taken.

Have a great October!

Your Commodore

Jeff Oaklief

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