"Too rough" is when I or my crew is no longer comfortable and there is a choice. Sometimes you don't have a choice and you just have to make do with the situation you're in. Other times, you can/should make choices that ensure that everyone is comfortable.
A few years ago I was going South from Friday Harbor and made some bad/uninformed choices about route and timing. I ended up off Cattle Point at the wrong time and right in the middle of a really nasty tidal rip. Very steep and short chop. I was in a Catalina 36 and my family was very uncomfortable. The length of the tide induced swells was such that the C36 pounded like crazy. It was too rough. Not for the boat, but for the crew. The bad part is that if I had timed my passage better and gone either a 1/2 hour earlier or later it wouldn't have been a problem. Sailors more experienced with the area no to avoid that spot under certain tide and wind conditions.
The boat was fine, but I ended up with a couple very sick crew.
S/V Legacy, Catalina 400 MkII, Hull #328
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