I am quite happy there is some consensus here....
1. Wind up to 45kn should not be a problem to any leisure boat, although, depending on displacement
, tactics can be different... and what can look like a nightmare on a 30' footer is just a hard challenge on a 40', a merry ride on a 50', and a pleasant run on any larger ones...
2. Winds in the 50+kn range are a problem to Any cruisers: wind breaks the waves' tips, water is white streaks of foam, there is spray at sea-level (such that any floating human can hardly breath in), and water wipes the deck
horizontally (apparently flying over the deck).
As notes here above, the very walking on deck
3. In the Bonifacio strait, as well as in other converging coasts, the wind easily increases by 2 full notches. And the Med it is particularly prone to LOCAL (5nm) phenomena, and guts...
4. A (heavy) boat running at a much larger than theoretical speed is only passively (keel, not rudder) controllable, and possibly subject to capsizing after piercing into waves. Not to mention the backslash effects on mast
, after a brutal deceleration. No sailing vessel has adequate bow sections to countermeasure that.
I have nothing against speed, so far my nose is high and dry in an almost flat sea...
Running consistently above the speed limit (I mean 15+kn, not 11-13kn when descending from a wave..) is something wise oceanic cruisers like to avoid by means of (expensive) drogue
5. That said, I believe that ability to steer, and a lively immediate response to the upcoming events
(waves, guts, crests....) is paramount safety-wise, and that means to be able to keep the boat lively under sail, enough powered and not passive, to an extent that no reasonable motor
can grant in troubled conditions...
Micka Flugga describes what a real hurricane
is (on a well crewed 72' !!) and I wish no one may experience that ever.
Nevertheless, even a pond like Erie or the Med can be a heavy fighter.
Local whirls may arise..
In front of Livorno, southerly winds encounter a shallow reef, and some commercial
ship have sunk.
VITTORIO Veneto, the largest ship in the Italian Navy
(a heavy battle-ship some 500' long) met terrific waves in the mid-Tyrrenian sea, forcing it to conservative tactics
A note: only breaking waves are dangerous to a sailing boat, given its high buoyancy/displacement ratio.
Waves' height is a factor useful for sea description, but of lesser relevance, in so far as no sailing boat can sail upwind (against sea) in such conditions.
NB the gap between apparent/true wind is absolutely a prime factor in subjective perceptions, and with regard to boating
seamanship/behaviour, the way it is between a roller-coaster and a merry-go-round