I need to get this off my chest: I'm pretty sure I was wrong in this situation. But, for the life of me, I can't figure what I would have done differently.
Last Sunday, I took a family of non-sailors out on a day that turned out to be windier than forecast. We had a good time but after ~3 hours we were all pretty tired. So we were going to drop sails and motor in. About 1/4 mile from the breakwater, I planned our moves. I was going to let that J24 go by, head up into the wind behind him, drop the jib, drop the main and head on in.
All went to plan. The J24 passed to starboard, I counted to 3 and then headed up into the wind. I jumped over to the halyards, dropped the jib, ran up onto the foredeck to gather, jumped back into the cockpit, released the main halyard, leaped up to the mast to help it down. During this time the engine was idling.
As I was ready to catapult myself back into the cockpit, I looked to my left and "what the?" the J24 was back and headed right at us. Of course they were. They were retrieving their invisible milk carton for a man overboard drill. How the heck was I supposed to know about that? They were shooting me dirty looks and were clearly on starboard and in the right, I had to hustle back to the cockpit to put us in gear and get the heck out of the way.
I like to think that if it had been a person they might have yelled to me as I passed or that my cursory look-around before dropping sails would have spotted a full sized person. I was in the wrong but not sure how I possibly could have known all this before it happened.
Dropping sails only takes about 90 seconds, I just am not sure how I could have foreseen this J24 coming back at me in those 90 seconds. Maybe their MOB milk jug could be bright orange or something.
No point to this post just curious if anyone else can think what I should have done other than scour the seas looking for milk jugs prior to dropping sails.