If you’re getting into serious cruising, there will be times when you want to set a stern anchor. Usually this involves emptying fenders, lines and whatnot out of a cockpit locker until you unearth the kedge and its rode. Then you have to haul the anchor into the cockpit and untangle its rode before deploying it. Retrieving and stowing the anchor is just as cumbersome. No wonder stern anchors are a last resort for many casual cruisers.
A 30-foot charter boat I sailed in the Med had a wonderfully simple arrangement: a Danforth anchor hooked on the stern pulpit with 20 feet of chain and 100 feet of nylon rode tucked into a plastic jerrycan with the top cut off. This also was attached to the pulpit. This setup was perfect for Med mooring, as the helmsman could drop the anchor and control the rode while coming bow-to a jetty. When leaving, we just pulled the boat out from the jetty by the stern rode.
That was fine for unambitious coastal cruising with nights spent in sheltered harbors, but high-latitude cruising demands a more rugged approach, like this smart custom pivoting stern-anchor roller I saw on a German boat in Chile. The Bugel anchor’s short chain leader could be connected to either of the big spools of nylon residing on the stern rails. When retrieving the anchor, the rode is rolled up until the boat is over the anchor. Then if the hook cannot not be broken out by hand, the rode is led over the nylon roller on the top rail to a primary winch. Simple, elegant—just do it.