A well-found yacht with decent crew and strong rig and storm sails
would be ok in these conditions in the Solent. Strong wind
by itself can't hurt you. The Yarmouth-Lymington ferry
has been operately continuously through the storm, by the way.
I've been out in the Solent myself in 50+ knots of wind
, and more than once. The Isle of Wight prevents the sea state from building into anything horrible, although wind of that magnitude against tide in the Solent creates an extremely unpleasant square chop which can really shiver your timbers.
I have seen the Solent full of boats with orange storm sails
in such conditions -- out practicing coping with strong conditions.
Out in the Channel is a different story, of course. In my boat, Force 8 or even Force 9 out in the Channel is "exciting", but not too horrible as long as the wind is behind the beam and you give a wide berth around anything like a tidal race
. Beyond Force 9 it starts to get hairy.
Actually, the hairiest conditions I have ever experienced in the Channel (or anywhere, for that matter) was in calm weather -- hardly a F4 -- rounding Start Point on my way to Plymouth from Dartmouth last year. A good lesson on wind versus sea state. There had been a tremendous storm the night before, a F10 or F11. It piped down by morning so I didn't think there would be any problem. How wrong I was. The sea was still up -- an enormous
confused, steep sea around the point, although I was supposedly a safe distance away from the race
. I thought we would be knocked on our beam-end although, in the event, we were not.