Going out in 30kts., gusting to 40kts. in a 26 ft. boat in choppy water.....really? You guys are tough. I have yet to see anyone intentionally go out in such conditions in this area. (And why would you want to anyway....you're just going to beat up the boat and yourself?) Now that you've discussed the sailing pretty much in detail, please discuss docking and undocking without damaging the boat in these conditions. Don't spare details... this is a skill that I really want to learn (high wind docking and undocking, especially with crosswind).
Sure, ill give you the skinny.
Well we were about a half mile north of Epping forest yacht club trying to head in a northerly direction when I got tired of being hit broadside after every failed tack. So I guess I did a "chicken gybe?" since I just whipped the boat from 2 o'clock down to 5:30.
So now we are running with the wind again and looking for a [place to dock. Problem is the docks jutting out from the riverbank are being pounded by waves and offer no protection. Then I spot Epping forest-- Its a small marina with a sea wall all the way around except for the entrance at 9 o'clock (really neat). Well, the wind and current actually helped now because I was going in the same direction. (I chose this place to dock bc my sister had work and because it was on the same course as I, including wind and current-and I knew my step dad could pick us up quickly!.)
Anyway, I sail to about 50 yards of the marina entrance then I bring down the jib and start floating in with wind and current. Didn't have enough momentum to make the entrance at 9 o'clock-- started shifting sideways, would have been pushed sideways along the outer seawall and banged to death.. So I cranked up my unreliable engine. 8 HP barely moved me through the chop-- For a minute I thought I had ran aground but I knew the swells were lifting me way to high for that to be the case... 8 HP is just to small an engine imo.
Anway, Engine cranks and I start sliding towards the entrance. I veer out to the outer wall and like a long U come right in the Marina which calms down immediately. Took my first right and Throw the boat in neutral and floated about 40-50 ft to an empty slip. Still moving 1-2 knots when I approach slip (told sister to throw over fenders to starboard side already) so I just kick the engine in reverse and I come to a stop with a slight bump on the bow. Kill the engine, tell the sister to grab the bow line I grab the stern line and now we just invaded a multimillion dollar yacht club surrounded by mansions!
Then I mosey on up to the Harbor master, hes in his late 60's, captain something, tell him of my adventure and then relish the look given to a 24 yr old who shinnied his boat under jib into his marina when not one other boat was out on the St. Johns besides a 40+ power yacht.
Now, this sounds like a gloating posts and some of it is. You did not ask me to mention all of my mistakes, because they were made.
(If ever you throw out a stern anchor, remember dummy, you have winches all around you! Use the winch to help get the anchor up otherwise your hands will be raw.)
***Want to add- The epping forest yacht club harbormaster and staff are very freindly people. They were very understanding and when I offered to pay them for slip usage they steadfastly denied. They were just glad my sister and I had found somewhere safe to stop. So, just wanted to give them some love. Also, beautiful place. If you have the money, that place is sweet. Very Spanish Riviera feeling.