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I have never faced an inshore gale, but did encounter a mid-Atlantic gale, and had to fly storm sails. They were surprisingly effective. They heel the boat very little but there is tremendous drive from them. We got absolutely drenched more than a few times, and one rogue wave clobberred the ship, at the port bow, loosening the accomodation.
The forces are terrible though. The storm trysail pulled the rail out of the deck.
Avoidance of inshore gales is largely a matter of weather forecasting, so we can avoid them.
In settled weather I would practice rigging storm sails and dropping the boom and such stuff, but I don't recommend that you go out purposely to fly storm sails, unless it is with a very experienced, heavy-weather crew.