My wife and I fish Lake Superior quite a bit. If you are caught in heavy seas the idea is to survive and not lose your boat, not necessarily to even make headway. The boat's capabilities will determine if it can make headway.
The Us Coast Guard rescues recreational boaters on Lake Superior every year. Some make it. Some don't.
The six rules are:
1) always keep the full keel on the water to maintain track and steerage - greatest danger is broaching
2) never run with beam seas
3) never run directly into head seas windward
4) never allow following seas to push the boat full on the stern
5) trim fully down, adjust throttle as necessary to maintain constant freeboard on the bow
6) if you have to use the first five rules, you did not pay close enough attention to weather and sea conditions and stay behind the breakwater