I don''t know why some people equate pocket cruisers and trailer sailers with poor construction,as in the reply you received.
I am very happy sailing my 20 O''Day in most conditions which send the fainter hearts to their moorings.
I have learned through experience and talking to other light boat sailors that they perform better if sailed rather upright. I limit my heeling to 15 or so degrees. I change to a smaller jib
and do not cleat
the main sheet but as you have written use it to adjust the power.
You will also find that the fishermans reef is useful. That is a tight jib
that backwinds the luffing main.
As you are I was very worried about a knock down and I spent a lot of time in harbor sailing until I got the feel for how much performance to expect from my boat. My boat is much older and has no added flotation so a knock down would be much more serious for me.
Lighten up, go slow, you may want to buy a smaller jib
for those 20+ knot days, and do not listen to those who cannot sail well enough to cope with anything other than the Queen Mary...