A passing thought on all of this:
Could it be that we have so many ocean bars over here that I am taking for granted that sailors and marine rescue crossing them know what to do and what not to do? You have so many fine anchorages and sailing grounds in Western Europe: Is it possible that the crew of the Meri Tuuli did not understand the dangers of 'closed harbours' and 'bar entrances'??
Probably a kind of explanation, Europe is as Paulo wrote a very diverse cruising ground (and large).
The dangerous bars come from a combination of weather and geography (under water shape and depths).
Portugal sits on the west of Europe with the open Atlantic with long stretches to build waves and the rapidly shallowing towards the coast and the bars combined with rivers pushing water out.
Compare this with my country Norway. The western part of the country see similar weather but the geography is different. We have deep fjords and islands giving us more harbors (natural and man made) that is relatively easy to access.
We do have some ares that can be dangerous during bad weather - but it's not as bad as in Portugal. (described in the Norwegian Pilot)
The Norwegian "Sřrlandet" region (south east on the map) is even more sheltered.
And then we have Mediterranean, Skagerak, Kategat and Baltic (++) all areas with different conditions.
What I'm trying to say is that getting information on local conditions is important. And it's dangerous to view a large region (for instance Europe or Norway) as one "type" of water.