I'm not familiar with Choctawhatchee Bay, but I think most PC sailors would agree that 2-3 foot chop is the upper limit. We would head in if the chop was building to 2 feet. We sail on upper Narragansett Bay in RI, well isolated from ocean swells. Consistent winds 20-25 kts would be time to reef, but we have frequently been out in winds gusting to 20 without reefing. I'm not sure who was suggesting that you have to reef by 15, but I wouldn't agree with that. The boom is set high, very crew friendly, and with only 109 sq. ft. of sail, most consider the PC under canvassed, already half reefed if you will. Again, the chop is more limiting, due to the broad hull form.
The PC has a lot of freeboard for a small catboat, very upright, real benches and great storage. The freeboard, and the outward-facing deck flange that deflects waves that do climb the hull, makes for a relatively dry sail.
The PC likes to be sailed on its lines, too much weight in the stern will be noticed. I have a Honda 2 LS at about 29 lbs., and a Lehr 2.5, SS only, at 37 lbs. Both are fine. We sail with and extra 100 lbs. of bagged sand in the forward locker with our normal crew to balance her out. Sailors with electric motors often but the batteries forward for trim. I've never felt the need for more power, but we don't see currents much above 1 kt.
With your experience in small boats, you'll be able to tell if the PC is right for you in short order. Grab a test sail if you can! And, everything you've heard about the Mastendr system is right on the money. You'll spend a lot more time answering questions from onlookers than you will rigging the boat.