It "depends", as others have posted, is of course the real world answer.
Wave Period. Wave "period" is really more significant than wave height. Large swells with a very long period can make for quite nice sailing. Short choppy seas (short period) can be quite unpleasant. Big seas with a short period are potentially life threatening.
Wave Direction. Relative direction of the seas makes a huge difference. Are those big seas coming from roughly behind you on your intended course -- no problem (within in reason of course). I've made the decision to take off in MAXIMUM sea height of 15 feet current
conditions and forecast
, but the wave period was reasonable and the route
was down wind with waves. Getting out to sea was a bit sporty, but once we got on course, it was a easy ride. Going to windward in these conditions would have been very unpleasant. This was also a delivery
with experienced crew, not cruising.
What's Forecast. So it's a little snotty today...what's forecast a few days from now...maybe we want to make tracks before it gets worse -- or find a hole to hide in.
Cruising vs. Delivery
. If in cruising mode and its a little snotty out -- have another beer
and check the forecast tomorrow. Delivery...suck it up cupcake.
Crew Comfort. Specifically, my GF's comfort! I don't mind a little nasty weather, but if she's miserable...then I'm not likely to be having a good time either.
Schedule. Does someone have a schedule? Like a flight to catch? Put out more rode
immediately -- made even a second anchor
. I refuse to chase air planes in sail boats. Lots of cruisers make bad weather window decisions because they believe they must meet a "schedule".