What a great experience! Welcome to the world of sailing. If you spend time on the water you will get in caught in bad weather and have to deal with it. An approaching storm requires constant attention.
You closed up the boat in preparation for the storm. That was perfect.
The outboard is a major problem. In large waves it has a tendency to get submerged and stop. This is a problem I have experienced as I have a 25 foot Oíday with an outboard. Only real solution here is to get a sailboat with an inboard. I have been able to manage with my outboard OK, not great but OK.
Here are my recommendations:
Reef the sails prior to the storm (Your item 2). I would never strip my poles. If and when the engine quits you have very little control without sails. A fully reefed main will provide plenty of control even in high winds.
Start the engine prior to the storm.
Donít go into a channel during a thunder storm. (Your item 3)
Donít ever strip you poles when going into a channel.