German photographer Bente Stachowske’s series, Living On The Anchor has won the grand prize in UK-based organization PhotoVoice’s quarterly photography show. Stachowske’s candid depictions of Sausalito’s anchor out community document the beauty and struggle of life at anchor.

“Their boats differ from one another as much as the owners do from themselves. Some boats are so cluttered that there is hardly any space for living left, while others are tidied up and clean. The people who live on these boats live their very own version of the American dream of freedom. Some want to live close to nature, others do not want or cannot afford to pay rent. People who do not get their bearings in society, who do not fit into the norm or who used to be homeless found a place to stay. Some consider the bay a permanent solution; others a temporary refuge.

When viewed from the land, the boats in the bay convey an idyllic impression. They enhance the maritime townscape of Sausalito. From this perspective it is quite difficult to get an idea of the owners and their way of life aboard. Life on water also holds everyday risks and challenges. During severe winter storms, everybody is vigilant. Boats that come off the anchor chain pose a threat to their owners and to others.

Of the more or less 100 people who lie at anchor and live in Richardson, only a few are depicted. Some residents of Sausalito welcome the anchor-outs as neighbours, many merely tolerate them and still others are bothered by them. They think of the anchor-outs as a threat and even call them freeloaders and thieves. This is why the anchor-outs community constantly worries about losing its independence.” – Bente Stachowske, Living On The Anchor

Look for Bente’s work on display at the Sausalito Public Library early next year. Bente herself will be returning to Sausalito as well — as the Arts Commission’s inaugural Artist in Residence. Watch this space for updates on Bente and her work!