Hi all, well we made it back to port yesterday after launching Sunday morning. My wife begged off at the last minute, so it was just me and my 14 year-old twin boys. As we were heading dead into the wind from Channel Islands Marina, we motored over using the main only. The wind near the island was getting up near 20 knots so we decided to change destinations and go to the East end to a place called Smuggler's. Anchored several times before finding the right spot (inexperience).
Once on the hook, the boys jumped into the dinghy (11' inflatable, 8hp) and started buzzing around. I managed to kick a cleat bare-footed and had a badly discolored and swollen toe. Nice.
We explored on shore where I found a new fender with rope, 3' long by about 1' diameter among the flotsam and jetsom. We had a very bumpy night and decided to make our original destination, Prisoner's Harbor in the morning.
The next morning the breeze was up a bit and I decided to pull anchor and head to our new spot as the boys slept. First mistake of many was not to check the weather report. I didn't want to wake the boys so I headed out. As I rounded the island and became less sheltered the wind started increasing. My second mistake was that in addition to towing the dinghy, I decided to tow the kayak. As I motored my way north the wind steadily increased as our hull speed decreased. As my speed dropped from 5+ knots to barely 1 knot, I knew that I had problems. One of them was that part of my head sail was catching wind and coming unfurled. No way to fix that so I tried raising the main, thinking that I would tack out to the east, and then west toward my destination. It was apparent very quickly that this was not a good idea. Wind was now clocking on my meter at 25+ knots. Recognizing that I was in a bit of trouble I turned around and headed downwind and back to my original spot. Man was I glad to be back in the lee of the island
The rest of the trip went well, but the morning that we were to leave it was once again howling at 20+ knots on what would be a beam reach. I switched out my 150 genoa to a regular jib before pulling the anchor. By the time we left, it had calmed to about 15 knots. I was still a little spooked by the day before so I started out with the main only, reefed at the first position. We motored the whole way back and still made 6-7 knots.
I know this is long and I appreciate anybody who has stuck around this long. Normally, I can sail in these winds. 20+ is starting to get interesting, but no problem. I guess that towing the dinghy and kayak complicated things, and having my sons sleeping made it a bit more sketchy for me. One thing is that when I sail in conditions such as these, I always learn something. My main lessons would be the obvious - ALWAYS check the weather, always secure the kayak (and maybe the dinghy), always have a plan "B" and "C" just in case.
Overall, a great trip. The boys never really knew that I was sh#tting bricks for a moment there. Next time out will be easier and better managed. BTW, got some great pics from the boys up in the bosun's seat.
Thanks for reading. Input is always welcome.