No smart sailor gains heavy weather experience willingly. As Camaraderie posted, a knowledge of weather forecasting and attention to the broadcasts so as to avoid heavy weather is the prime ingredient in safety at sea. if you don't know what an isobar is and what it means when those wavy lines become close together, you don't belong offshore.
By the time most are able to afford that bluewater boat their bodies are at the age where bones tend to break easier, fatigue comes more readily, and endurance is a memory. A lifetime of experience teaches the experienced seaman that there is no glory in proving his boat can handle the rough stuff. In the end, there are few of us who wish our last words to be, "boy, that was a dumb idea".
I have been scared at sea. Overall, I am not scared of the sea. But, I will go to any lengths to not be in a situation where I am to be scared again. Coincidently, that is called seamanship. All good seamen are fair weather sailors. And all good seamen are calculating in the extreme. If you think that there is nothing out there to be afraid of then you have not really seen heavy weather. Rather than discourage you though I would second the notion of becoming as capable a sailor as possible; that is the only 'safety equipment' you carry. All of the advertised "safety equipment" you carry or contemplate is mis-named. It is rescue equipment, to be used when safety is but a memory.
Experience is a tough, but effective, teacher. It is one thing to be out in high winds on San Francisco Bay, quite another to be west of the Farrallons in the same wind. Gain your experience safely and then attempt to voyage in a manner where it's full implementation does not prove necessary. Intensionally seeking out weather is akin to cutting your backstay, just to see what happens.
Bowditch says that the furious sea-state of the tropical cyclone cannot be described. And Bowditch describes EVERYTHING. I can tell you that Bowditch is correct and that the land-based imagination is inadequate to the task as well.
Would I venture offshore again? Sure. But I would not do it in a manner where the possibilities and efficacy of rescue were a factor. The old dictum, "there are old sailors, there are bold sailors, but there are no old bold sailors" is truthful. If you are one of those who has something to prove to yourself, I would advise you not to try it offshore. The only thing that is proven there is that man is still pretty small. Better to take up sky-diving without the expenditure on the parachute.
ďScientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.Ē
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.