Able to sail in a gale? If you define gale as anything over 28 knots of COURSE you need to be able to do it. That is just making miles for us sometimes. One great sail we had was leaving from Block Island for Cape May with about 35 knots on the beam. The seas were regular long period big rollers and it was easy fast sailing. One other time beating into 35 knots with confused 10-15 foot seas was just wet pounding misery, but we had a race to run. Most cruisers would have hated it. Cruisers tend to play the long game where beating the boat up when you don't have to just means repairs and dodging an angry wife.Is it prudent seamanship to head offshore, even coastal cruising in North America, if one doubts their own or their yacht's ability to safely endure a gale (>28 knots?) without damage? Tropical day-sailors should expect such conditions at any time. Sure, reasonable to avoid a gale if possible. However I would think the boats sailed by avid readers of the books being discussed here would be ready for a gale at any moment. And the crews not shy. Numerous talkative cruisers have told me over drinks, as if boasting, that they don't even bother with sails until 15 knots of wind is showing. Anyone else think a 15 to 27 knot wind range is a rather Undesireable Characteristic for a yacht?
I would not sail offshore if the boat would be in danger in 20 foot seas and 50 knot winds. I would also do a lot to avoid that condition.