Originally Posted by NCC320
It is a Catalina 320. For my purposes, it is very good and I am happy with it. The water I sail in is shallow, and in a wind, we'll get a nasty chop. Either, downwind or a quartering wind, one has to pay a fair amount of attention to the steering. Not a problem with how I use the boat, but if the seas were large and one had to steer for long hours, it could get tiresome, I suspect. The question was one in general for wide stern boats, not specifically as regards to my own boat. The trend seems to be towards wide stern boats as comparied with eariler designs. For coastal boats, this gives more interior room, but my perception, from articles I have read and comments of various boaters, the wide stern is not favored for off shore cruising. True or not? And why? Maybe it's just an old wive's tale and not true for modern designs.
All generalizations are dangerous and a boat being beamy and with the beam pulled back is only one of the many elements in a boat design "composition" but I can tell you for sure that the reason why the Open solo race boats are beamy and have big transom is not to have more interior room
and also that those boats are not designed for inshore racing but to deep offshore racing.
This should put a end to that non sense in what regards that story about beamy boats with wide stern not to be suitable for offshore sailing, but sailors, specially American ones, are very traditional and are very reactive to any change, so the story goes on at least in America because in Europe nobody says that anymore for a long time. Even the British, the more conservative of all Europeans, have finished already with that nonsense and big and very expensive bluewater boats like the British Oyster, one of the best offshore cruising sailboat, are also designed along the same principle.
The reason because modern cruisers are based more and more on open boats has to do with the fact that this is the hull shape that if well designed can provide more easy boats to sail (that's why it used for solo racers) specially downwind. It provides also for powerful boats and therefore fast boats. They are optimized for downwind sailing being the weakest point upwind sailing with waves, a thing that most cruisers don't do
They also sail with little heel, providing a very stable platform. That is very convenient and it is one of the reasons that makes them easy to sail. They also offer a big interior space and that is even more convenient, but that comes as a big bonus and it is not why they are that beamy in first place.
Regarding bluewater sailing, if you want to travel the wrong side, against the winds, this type of hull is far from indicated but if you want to travel along the trade winds (that is what almost all do) then this is the kind of hull that if well designed make it easier, namely in what regards using autopilot.
Now, about why you have sometimes steering problems in your boat and have difficulty in some occasions to have directional stability, maybe Bob can say why. I cannot help you with that.