It is more about the crew than the waves to a point. As long as you are not beating into them 8 foot with a reasonable period should be no issue, but add a broken tiller or tangled line and you are all of a sudden in trouble and often quite quickly. This is why people so often preach where PDFs and don't drink because things can change so quickly. Go from bopping along, to breaking things in seconds. I have never sailed a Pearson 30, but have always thought they were really beautiful boats, and well made by most accounts. That narrow beam will come in handy when the waves get big and snotty, as you won't be pounding into them! Keep in mind that even though the Great Lakes are fresh water, they can get as rough as the ocean, so your experiences out there will serve you well if you head to the coasts. Things can really kick up out of no where on Lake Michigan.
We launched the boat at Kenosha, WI where we started out journey on the loop. I have zero sailing experience and have never owned a boat prior to buying this one.
We set out at 4:30 on an afternoon when the forecast was supposed to be 1-3 foot waves. With no sailing experience we were just going to motor the 50 miles or so down to Calumet Harbor where we were going to unstep the mast for the rest of our trip down to the gulf.
About halfway between the Chicago Harbor and the Calumet Harbor, THIS
The waves were getting bigger and bigger into the night and started to break. Now they were breaking over the side of our boat and we had no engine and no experience with sails.
We got beat up bad before we were finally towed into Crowleys. I kept reminding the Admiral that as bad as it seemed, the boat could take more than we could and to not be scared. Inside my adrenaline was pumping and I was terrified. Needless to say, sea sickness was setting in.
I never want to relive that night again. What was supposed to be a calm 1-3 foot wave turned into much bigger waves that were very close together and began to soak us on deck.
I am hoping that those 8' waves we dealt with that night will feel completely different on the ocean when the rhythm is completely different.
This summer we are taking sailing lessons here on Kentucky Lake. We had planned to motor all the way to Florida and learn to sail there, but our plans have changed. In the last month that we have been on the loop we have realized that there are things we need to do to the boat and equipment that would make things easier.