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Old 12-27-2013
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

There's a saying that pretty much says it all, "the boat can take more than the crew".
In other words, a well found vessel should be able to handle just about anything, but the crew's ability to do so will depend on their experience and comfort level.
What you may choose to sail out into may be very much unlike what you encounter, even on a day sail (don't we all trust the weather forecasters completely?). You can't just turn around and head for home, if conditions deteriorate; you will still in the bad stuff for some time. Odds are with you most days, but in the end (or sooner) you are going to get into some pretty unpleasant stuff and you'll just have to manage.
Only an idiot would choose to sail the Gulfstream in a northerly, but if one gets caught in a norther in the stream, there is absolutely nothing one can do but sail on for the nearest safe entrance. Turning around will not alleviate the situation and running may be even more dangerous. If you sail enough, you're going to get knocked down, possibly capsized or even pitchpoled. You can set limits based on weather forecasts, your experience, comfort level and have multiple plans, but Neptune couldn't care less. Staying calm, being proactive and in control is the best way to get through the tough stuff; it always ends, be it a squall or a hurricane.
There is no cut and dried answer to your question, for your Pearson 30 or my 530, be it on the ocean, in a bay or on a lake.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
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