ESSENTIAL KIT - Floating Stern Line
In many anchorages running a stern line ashore will improve stability and keep the anchor pulling correctly up a steep incline sea bed. Obviously when a yacht is tied back it will not swing therefore more yachts can use the available anchorage space provided they all tie back.
I have 70m of 16mm plaited floating line mounted on a steel reel on the taff rail. The free end is made-off in a permanent bowline loop of about 12m circumference covered in a heavy plastic hose pipe.
A swimmer can easily take the loop over their shoulder and swim ashore. The line pays out off the reel with little resistance. The size of the loop manages just about every situation while the hose protects the line from chafing on nearby rocks. Make sure your swimmer has swim shoes on as the rocks can be sharp to climb and the best holding rock is rarely right at the waters edge.
If deploying the stern line by dinghy, coil down sufficient line into the dinghy and pay out from there. Paying out from the yacht will cause the light dinghy to go around in circles as the line length drags in the water. Remember to protect rubber dinghies against the sharp rocks as you loop the line ashore.
Wherever possible, I like to have a good distance between the yacht and the shore to give me some reaction time if the anchor slips. I usually try for a minimum of 30m gap and more if I can.
ALWAYS put bright markers on the line, or at least one in the middle, so other people can see it is there. I have the line marked with an orange ribbon flutter tags every 3m and use a white fender at the mid point.
Don't use a sinking line or include metal shackles or clips as they will sink and catch/jamb on the bottom especially during recovery. If you have nothing else then one or more mooring lines joined together will work, just take care when recovering them.
Don't use flat webbing, despite the neat thin reel they mount on, as these also sink and catch but even worse they vibrate (drum) like mad in a wind.
Do cover the reel with acrylic canvass to protect it from the Sun. A floating line is usually made from polypropylene. Strong and lightweight but not too UV resistant.
Make sure the inboard end is secured to a cleat in a manner that can be easily adjusted or let go if required.
WARNING: In strong beam-on winds, the stern line is subjected to immense loads. If you need to release in an emergency, TAKE GREAT CARE when letting go under load as it will whip out rapidly once untied. I always use a thinner piece of sacrificial line, tied with a Rolling Hitch to the stern line bight, to hold it while releasing from the cleat. Once all of the stern line has been thrown over the side and is clear I cut the sacrificial line to finally let go. It only takes a few seconds longer to set up but it is immeasurably safer. Once the yacht is re-anchored I simply return in the dinghy to the rock ashore to recover the stern line.