I do try to be safety conscious, considering the boat is so small and water is so big! I take every safety precaution I can think of given the space restrictions on the boat. Even then, after all that focus on safety, it is still pretty dangerous to go out on big water especially for multiple days in a row. I'd say that I would be committing an act of hubris if I thought that I alone was able to guarantee my 100% safety on the water, so I have to thank Neptune and my lucky stars for the safe returns that I have had so far, and I will continue to try to be thankful and smart about preparing for each launch. I like sailing and exploring these waters, but it is a risk. So, all that said, I will provide my thoughts regarding your question.
1st: We check the forecast very carefully and we have rain-dates for the trip, and if the weather is forecast to be bad, we don't go. We make a final call before departing the house.
2. We file a float plan with the people back home, so they'll at least know if we are not back on time and they will know roughly where to look for us. We do not hold to a strict schedule with destination points. We have goals, but we try to have weather and safety determine the course for the day.
3. We check the forecast a couple times a day, to try to understand potential wind speed and direction. This has proven to be of limited use on the great lakes. But we still try. The forecast has proven to be better regarding wind speed, than wind direction. We make a call on where we will sail after taking the forecast into consideration. On the last trip we anchored in a location that was exposed to the north, but the wind was not supposed to be from the north overnight, so we anchored there as there were no harbors, and wouldn't you know, we woke up in the night to a 19 mph wind blowing towards us, towards the lee shore. Still, we check the forecast on the internet if available, or as it was on lake superior, we check it on the marine radio.
4. We would sail or motor, if needed, to safety if we saw a storm, including going ashore if possible.
5. If an unforecasted storm came and caught us during the day when we were sailing, we would clip on our tethers to our life jackets. We typically wear life jackets anyway, but we clip in if it gets dicey. We would have the mainsail reefed and would switch to the storm jib; we have had to do this many times, and I do this early, in fact I think I'm a bit of a wus when it comes to sail area....I go easy. If the storm was beyond the ability to sail in, we would go with bare poles, and given the size of a Compac 16, we might just ride it out in the cockpit. I have a pretty good rainsuit. I have never been in seas that were to the point where I had to ride it out with no sails up, but the cabin of the Compac 16 is very small and it is easy to get thrown into the ceiling, so I think one might have to ride it out in the cockpit. Also, would be sure to have the hatchboards in place, and I plug up the airvent/cowling in that is in the deck. I installed hinges and a latch on the lazarette, with foam seal, so it is water proof. I have a good sturdy bucket for bailing. When there's water in the boat, they say there's no pump that is as good as a motivated man with a bucket....
6. We would evaluate using the motor to get to safety ahead of the storm. We would use the motor in a storm if needed, to keep us pointing in the direction of the coming waves or quartering the coming waves.
7. If we were in shallow enough water, we could throw the anchor, the boat has a 11lb Lewmar claw anchor as a primary anchor and a 10lb danforth with 200' rope as a secondary anchor. The night we wound up anchored being blown towards shore, we had both anchors our and held well.
8. If the motor dies, we have oars to help in an emergency, but those would be tough to use in a storm.
9. If we were anchored at night and the storm hit us we would go through similar decisions, but up at pictured rocks the long straight rocky shore is daunting. We anchored in front of a small pebble beach area just east of Grand Portal point. At least if there was no harbor we wanted to be able to try to swim ashore should the worst happen to the boat. If you wound up in the water it would be a bad situation. If the waves were going towards the rocks instead of the beach you'd really have to swim. We were probably 40' from the pebble beach.
10. If we were in a dire situation I would radio the coast guard and any surrounding boats for assistance
11. If we wound up in the water near a safe shore, I would try to make it to shore but I am a bad swimmer, so I usually have a life vest on, especially sailing, and especially on the Great Lakes. If I was out in Lake Michigan or Superior, away from shore, and wound up ditching the boat and going overboard, I would activate the PLB. In 50-60 degree water I have read that you will be incapacitated or unconscious in about an hour, and you will called up to the pearly gates in 1-6 hours.
12. A map of the lakeshore is below. There are many good safe harbors around Grand Island, as you can see, and the Munising harbor / South Bay is very protected. Its when you want to head out to see the pictured rocks shoreline that you start to get a long distance from safe harbors or bays. We wound up anchoring off of Chapel Beach just east of Grand Portal Point. It would have been best to make it back to the harbor on the east shore of Grand Island, but it was about 10 miles away so we chose to anchor at the beach.
Those are my thoughts on it. I'll close by again thanking the heavens for bringing me back safe so far!