Why Berthing a Boat Stern-To Helps to Protect It
Look around a parking lot and you'll see that most cars are parked headfirst. But look around a marina or dock, and you'll see that all the boats are berthed stern first, or to put it in nautical terms, "stern-to."
Why is it that we tend to park our cars one way but berth our boats the other? Surprisingly, it's not for the reason most people think. You might be thinking that it's because it's easier to get on and off a boat at the stern than it is at the bow. While that's a perfectly good assumption to make, it isn't the real reason. The real reason is that by berthing a boat stern to mooring, any incoming waves and water turbulence will hit the bow and not the stern. The bow of a boat is designed to carve through water, so any rough water hitting the bow of a berthed boat will break on the bow and dissipate on either side of the boat.
If a boat were to be berthed bow-to, rough water would hit the stern at an oblique angle, pushing the boat deeper into its berth. This would cause damage to the bow from contact with the berth itself, and cause excessive wear and tear to the stern from the constant pounding of water. And that is why we berth our boats stern to, thus providing a simple solution to what might otherwise be a serious problem!