Re: Closer to the wind question
What you were doing with the genny rolled up, main inn use and motor running was motor-sailing. This will allow the boat to move forward decently closer to the wind as the sails don't have to provide all the drive. Not a bad way to go in the situation you describe as you don't have to tack constantly in the narrow channel and you have the sail as a backup in case the engine dies. One thing to consider is that some engines may get starved for oil if you heel excessively.