Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: New England
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Good Advice from others.....other things to consider
A small boat like a that and a newbie like yourself should try to initally avoid winds and waves like that until you acquire skills and gain confidence in your and your boats ability to sail in them.
I have no idea where Kentucky Lake is, it's size, depth or how far away you were from shore/port you were, or how big the waves you were in were, but when I see whitecaps where I am (MA North Shore), it usually means big waves and big wind. Even if I was a super confident sailor, I'd be reluctant to purposely go into conditions like that.
If you get caught in stuff like that another option is to reduce your sail area by heading into the wind and dropping your jib or main. You then can sail on one sail. On a Capri, I am assuming the headsail is much easier to drop than the main. Where we are moored, the wind is sometimes very different than the Big Ocean. I like to sail out of the harbor under jib alone if possible with the main ready to go up for low wind. If the wind is really strong, we sail under the jib alone. If no wind, we hoist the main. If we have both sails up and the wind picks up to speeds more than I like for two sails, we either: drop the main, roll in the jib some, reef the main, or sail on the main only. Last resort is to drop everything and turn on the motor and head in.
Others have said that going on another point of sail broad reach or run will reduce heel, but the sailing in following "seas" sometimes is a rolley poley feeling as you can surf down a wave and then back up the backside of the next wave.. When I kayak, I'd much rather head into the waves/wind as I have better boat control and steerage. When I "run" with waves and wind, I do a lot more work keeping the boat upright and at a steady pace. In big waves, if I am not careful I can bury the bow of the kayak, which is a uncomfortable feeling. It becomes a problem if it doesn't pop back up. My kayak is the same length as your sailboat.
Now that you have made it through your first "scary" moment without harm, hopefully you gained some confidence in yourself, your boat, for situations like that. We all go through those "holy crap, this is scary stuff" conditions. Welcome to the club.