Generally, as a rule, you should never anchor off a lee shore. The reason is simple... if your ground tackle fails for any reason, you're going to end up hard aground. You generally want the wind to blow you away from land and other hazards, not into them.
Same with the current.
You can anchor in even pretty horrific winds, provided you do it correctly.
For example, a few years ago we went out for a daysail... but the wind turned out to be much stronger than originally forecasted, and blowing directly out of the direction we'd need to go to get back to our home harbor. The increased wind also made our original destination untenable, as the wind was out of the NW and Menemsha's entrance faces NW... not a fun idea to try and go in when the wind and tide are opposed...and the harbor wouldn't have been very well protected given the NW winds.
I decided that because of the new forecast, 30 knots gusting up to 40 something... we'd head over to Tarpaulin Cove, which faces southeast. This meant that we'd be in the lee of Nashuon Island. When we got there, there were twenty or so boats hiding in Tarpaulin Cove. As we got in to the cove where the water was about 10' deep, there was almost no wind, due to being in the lee of the island. We dropped anchor and fired up the BBQ grill. Spent the night there and then sailed back the next morning.
Study the charts of Catalina Island... and mark the various anchorages and what directions of wind they're most sheltered from. Then, when you do sail out to Catalina Island, you can base your plans on what the predicted wind direction is going to be... and since you've already scouted the anchorages on the charts previously, you'll have a pretty good idea of where to set the hook.
The same thing can usually be done with any stretch of coast line. There will be points, harbors, and coves that will be protected in slightly different directions. Unfortunately, the Pacific coast of the US has some very long stretches that are fairly lacking in the way of sheltered harbors... much like the coast of New Jersey.
Question for the experienced. Today I sailed to a secluded strip of beach on the northeast coast of the lake. One of those places you can't get to by car and no one around in sight. In fact, even though I have lived in the area all my life, I never even knew it existed. This said, I wanted to go ashore and walk that nice sandy beach and take video. Here is the problem, the wind and waves were just a bit too extreme to consider anchoring. Plus I did not want to get too close to the shore and risk running aground so I filmed offshore as I passed on by it. This has me wondering, what if when I do sail out to cat island, I run into this same problem? In other words I do a 15hr sail and then get to the island only to realized the conditions keep me from anchoring my boat and going ashore. The only answer I can come up with for the island is to sail to the downwind side of the island where hopefully the conditions are more practical for anchoring at least for one night. For the coast, I have no ideas. So I can really use some tips regarding anchoring such as the do's and don'ts. I am well aware you can't just drop anchor anywhere in certain conditions. I may not get that nice still evening with my sails dropped and the sunset over the glassey water that is seen in many sailing pics.