Ahoi sailnet'ers, I have a little anchoring story to share, and would like to ask your opinions ... it's really mostly a learning experience for me:
So the other night I arrived in an unnamed harbor after sunset. All moorings were taken and my only option was to anchor my 32' sloop outside the harbor, in a wide channel with 2-3 knot tidal currents. Conditions were benign, and forecast to remain so through the night. A very large 77' sailboat - aka superyacht - was already anchored there, in 15' of water at low tide.
I picked a spot and dropped my 35lb anchor, but it did not bite well so I pulled it up and reanchored. I made very sure that the anchor was well set (reverse hard) and let out a comfortable scope (20' chain + 90' rode). I ended up some 60-70' directly off the bow of the superyacht. I then rowed over to them and asked the captain whether he was comfortable with the situation. He said he had 40m of chain on the ground, and he was ok as long as we had matching scope. We anticipated that we would swing 180deg as the current reversed overnight, and I felt things were settled.
An unusual noise startled me at daybreak, I darted out on deck to see my starboard quarter right under the superyacht's port bow. Some equipment I have mounted there made a couple of (what seemed to me) light gelcoat scratches on the superyacht's dark hull. I quickly fended off (all hands on the superyacht were still asleep) and took in some of my rode, just enough to clear his bow by a safe distance, then went down below to make coffee. I continued to monitor the situation closely ... some 30-45mins later, the superyacht suddenly fell back and was again some 60-70' away from my stern, its crew still blissfully asleep.
I the morning I waved the superyacht's (pro) captain over, and informed him of our "collision", and the area where he may have some scratches. He was very kind and seemed rather unimpressed, and thought that his chain must have snagged a rock on the ground as we were swinging with the tide. He went off to check out his bow, and didn't seem to care much at all.
Later that morning, I pulled my anchor and picked up a mooring inside the harbor. The superyacht's captain soon arrived on his dinghy - the owner insisted that the bow scratches be fixed, he estimated the damage at $400, and proposed that we split the cost 50-50. He was rather kind and even a bit apologetic (I thought), he refused to take cash right away so we exchanged contact info and that was it.
I yet have to hear from him regarding this fix, so I am not sure this story will even have any continuation at all, but I am rather curious about your comments ... I certainly don't have much heartburn just paying the requested $200 and moving on, but somehow a) I don't really feel I had done anything wrong with my anchoring (have I?); b) I googled the superyacht ... it is rather famous, owned by a very wealthy man (who was aboard) who certainly doesn't need any $$$ from me ... I am guessing that he is faulting his pro captain for this.
Again, the captain was very kind, and if he actually ever asks for the $200 I would feel inclined to pay him and move on, so I am really mostly interested in your interpretation of this situation: Am I actually at fault here? One lesson, certainly, is never to anchor anywhere close to superyachts