Upfront disclaimer: I am NOT an expert, and I am wary of anyone who claims to be one.
That said, I have been in 12 - 15 foot swells (off Cape Henry - Norfolk) with a nice 20 - 25 kt wind
at my back in a 33 foot boat and loved it. One minute you're in a canyon of water
, and as the mountains rush toward you, the boat magically lifts and rides over it. Now you're up so high you think a dive into the water
would hurt. Took a couple of sloshers over the stern, but never was afraid of the outcome.
Beating into the wind
near Cape Lookout in 6 - 8 foot breaking waves, there was not a sense of impending danger
that we would sink (same 33' boat), but we were getting tired and wet, and if something broke when we were on a near-shore tack, bad things could happen in a hurry. We had reefed down in the fading sunlight (good decision) and dropped the storm jib
a few hours later (more trouble than benefit). We averaged a net 1 kph over land for 12 hours, with another 24 hours to go, and decided Ocracoke
looked good for a Saturday night. With that same weather
at our backs, we ripped down the coast in record
time with no discomfort or problems - that is until we got to the Ocracoke
Inlet, which is another story that involves the Coast Guard and pepper spray.
They say NEVER try to cross the Gulf Stream
when the wind is out of any point north, regardless of boat size or experience. The waves are shaped like elephants and the experience is compared to being hit by a car going 10 mph every 15 seconds. If the boat survives, you will be a wreck.
is very tiring when you have to tend a boat 24/7. Sailing long passages, even in good weather, can be very tiring. Fatigue is dangerous.
70 miles offshore
in a Ranger
33 was the edge of my comfort zone - she was a great boat, but needed more upgrades to be truly bluewater ready. Keep in mind that it would probably take 10 hours to get back to shore in favorable conditions, and when things go wrong, favorable conditions go with them.
If I can get my C-27 to the point where I can get to the Bahamas
safely, I will have prepped her about as far as I think prudent. Most accidents of any sort involve operator error, which includes an inflated belief in your own ability. As a friend of mine once said, "The ocean can be a very inhospitable place."