Join Date: Dec 2006
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Must have been on the flood tide, as the current runs pretty strongly north nearshore on the flood. The currents are weaker farther out, but that's not taking you to a safe harbor. I would think that the staysail would help keep you balanced and powered up. In those conditions, from IAH, the other Winter Harbor (on Vinalhaven) might have been a closer, well protected destination, as would Burnt Coat on Swan's Island, which was pretty close. A strong NW-NE in Pretty Marsh, up Blue Hill Bay, is downright bucolic.
This time of year the breezes are cooler, hence denser and pack more power than a warm summer breeze of the same velocity. 40-45 kts true is a lot of wind anyway, make it cold and it's a LOT. I would think the staysail and a scrap of main approximating a storm tri would be the appropriate.
I never tow a dink if anything over 10-15 kts is predicted. Get it up on deck, well lashed. If it's inflatable, deflate and toss in a cockpit locker.
Your observation about the real issue being sea state, not wind strength, is spot on. My guess is that, had you pointed the nose on a broad reach or run, you might have found the trip relatively peaceful. I cross the gulf of Maine several times a year with my wife and young son. I'll gladly head out in 30+ downwind. I'd rather motor in no wind than go upwind in 15-20 kts true (which turns into 20-25 apparent) offshore with family aboard. I want them happy and comfy, so they'll keep sailing with me.
So, was it fun?