I have heard it said that in the good old days, boats were designed to sail well in the first place and the accommodation was designed around this requirement. Safety was an integral part of designing a good sailing yacht. Nowadays, accomodation and comfort is the primary driver and acceptable sailing performance is the new benchmark for many yacht designs. Safety is measured by the Stix and AVS ratings together with the stability curve which most manufacturers are not too keen to make public. This has already been discussed to some extent on this thread and I don't wish to revisit that rabbit hole. The point is that we are often left to form our own opinions regarding safety by considering the boat's reserve stability via it's B/D ratio and its form stability by looking at the hull and keel shape.
The latest postings on the Salona 35 which shows a B/D of 25% on a 2.15m keel with bulb and therefore low centre of gravity and the new Dufour 36e which shows a B/D of 29.7% on a 2.20m bulb keel leaves me thinking that perhaps these boats are being designed with too much emphasis on speed where weight is a primary concern and not enough on safety. There are many other examples where the new B/D norm appears to be way less than 30% with stability relying primarily on form stability via a beam carried far back as well as through the use of hard chines. This design is in sharp contrast to the advice given by the Pardey's in the September issue of Sail magazine where they were advocating a high B/D ratio for cruising - such as that found on a Catalina 38 where the B/D is around 39%. I understand that the primary use of a Salona 35 and a Dufour 36e is probably not cruising but surely there is a common denominator as regards safety in all boats.
I guess you are mixing things a bit. The Dufour 36 and the Salona 35 are definitively not boats designed around accommodations. These are boats designed to sail well first and then to have decent accommodations. Off course all boats are compromises and an ocean racing boat will even be more turned towards a sailing good performance ( that includes safety) and will only provide the minimum to live spartanly on the boat for one or two weeks time.
People tend to believe that ocean racers are more dangerous and less seaworthy than mass production boats. It is normally the opposite and the reason is simple: Most cruising boats will do coastal sailing and even those that go offshore when facing bad weather will take defensive tactics and chose the route with nicer weather.
Many times ocean races go deliberately for stronger winds and bigger seas because they will be faster there and when things go nasty they still try to continue to race and win distance over the others, while a cruiser would be taking defensive measures. So the strain that an offshore race boat is expected to support is much bigger than the one a cruiser boat is expected to endure, and the boats are designed accordingly, or at least should be
The type of boats the Dufour and Salona belongs are a medium compromise.
We can stay that they compromise little towards sailing while other boats like for instance deck saloons, center cockpit boats or simply fat boats compromise much more their sailing performance to be more spacious and more comfortable inside.
Regarding Stix most NA finds that it is a misleading reference and I have the same opinion. The thing is pretty useless.
Stability curves are important, providing you know how to read them, but they only told half the story. They only refer to static Stability while they don't told anything about dynamic stability that is as important.
Regarding that Catalina story in what regards modern Catalinas go here and see what I have said about it on the thread:
New Catalina 385
Fin ballasted keels, iron or lead, cannot be compared in what concerns B/D ratio with keels with a foil and a bulb at the end. You have to look at stability Rm curves to compare. The ones with a torpedo on the bottom, like this Dufour 36e or the Salona 35 need a lot less ballast to make the same RM and therefore its B/D ratio even if smaller can be compared in the produced RM with a bigger ratio if that one belongs to a boat with a keel without a bulb (assuming equal draft).
Form stability is great as long as the boat is not knocked down in a broach or whatever. At this point, reserve stability is what counts in terms of the boat righting itself and righting as quickly as possible. A boat which stands out for me in the modern crop of boats is the Salona 38 which has a B/D of 36% and a standard draught of 1.98. If my memory serves me, I seem to remember that Paulo has asked Salona to increase the weight of the bulb over and above this so it seems fair to assume that this is a primary concern of his too?
My personal interest is to cruise but to have fun whilst doing so, so if I can get from A to B quickly, then all the better. With the exception of the Salona 37 and Salona 38, most performance cruisers that I been tracking - Elan 37 and 380, First 35 and First 36.7, Dufour 34e and 36e and Jeanneau Sunfast 37 - have B/D ratios from around 30% to 33% whilst the cruisers with good performance (Jeanneau 36i Performance, Beneteau Oceanis 37, Hanse 385, SO379, Dufour375) all seem to have B/D ratios of around 27/28%. The standout in this last grouping as regards B/D is the Elan Impression 384 with a B/D of 32.6 and a Stix of 40!! (but unfortunately the boat is heavier and pays for it on the performance side) I am constrained by budget and so my universe excludes the likes of Malo, HR, Najad, Grand Soleil, Solaris et al
The question is therefore: have we been brainwashed by the various manufacturers to accept a yacht with a reserve stability that is lower than it used to be on account of improved form stability through hull and keel design?
Well, it is difficult to answer to that last question and it is true that I would prefer a more ballasted Salona 35 (or Dufour 36p) but that is just because I want not only a fast boat but also a very stiff boat because I want to sail the boat solo offshore and possibly crossing the pond.
It will be safer? Yes I thing so. It is the Salona 35 unsafe to sail offshore: certainly not. I have not seen the stability curve of the 35 but I bet that has lots of righting moment at 90º heel.
Comparing its B/D ratio with the Salona 38 it is not correct because the Salona 38 does not have a torpedo keel (I want one
) and a torpedo keel is more efficient in what regards righting moment ( the one that is on the 38 was chosen mostly because it is less expensive to made and also on account of handicap racing).
This kind of boats are more stiff than most of the ones that have a more compromised sail performance by their interior volume. Just compare the prices of the Benetau First line with the ones from the Benetau Oceanis line.
There are cruisers with a better interior that are as stiff or more than these performance cruisers ? Shure! The ones I like more are the X yacht line of cruising sailboats, but the Halberg Rassy or the Malo also fits the profile. They are very stiff and seaworthy boats even if considerably less fast especially in light winds.
Why there are not more? Because it is expensive to make stiff boats and because most of the sailors don't need them. The First look eventually not as luxurious as the Oceanis but are considerably more expensive, the same with the Elan performance line comparing with the performance cruiser line.
If they made the "cruising" line as stiff and with as good hardware as the performance line, than they would be more expensive than the ones from the performance line and who would buy them if the "neighbor" was selling apparently equal boats, but much more cheaply? Most of the sailors would not see any difference, except price.
It is a thing that one should have in consideration? Well, it depend, for most sailors that are coastal cruisers and don't go out with more than 25K wind, no! The modern boats are well designed and can take more than the vast majority can endure. For the minority that wants a more seaworthy and stiff boat because sails in higher winds or sails offshore or want a better bluewater boat with a better performance in heavier weather, Yes!
You are right in what concerns the cruising Elans they are, among the more fat cruising boats, between the group of the more stiff ones (Delphia too and some Hanse as well as the Vision line of Bavaria). Well I should not have said stiff because the last Oceanis 41 I am sure is a very stiff boat even if that stifmess comes mostly from hull stability. I was more thinking about stiffness at higher angles of heel and with a better reserve stability.
But there are something you have said that does not seem true to me: I don't think that neither the Salona 35 nor the Dufour 36e are very beamy boats and they are not examples of boats that take most of the stability from form stability, particularly the Salona.
For instance the Bavaria 36 has a beam of 3,67, the new jeanneau 379 (that is a 36fter) has 3.76, the Oceanis 34 has 3.65 (all in m). The Dufour 36e has 3.61 but the Salona 35 only has 3.36m while the first has 3.64.
This Salona 35 has already more 100kg of ballast than the previous model and the god thing with those guys is that they really listen the clients instead of trying to convince them that what they have is perfect for all. Probably they would agree in putting more 150/175kg on that bulb if a costumer wants the boat that way (they can do that because the steel grid that sustain the keel and connects the shrouds, distributing all the forces to the hull is over-sized ) and that would be enough for having a more stiff boat with a better reserve stability, a boat that would dispense guys on the side to go really fast on medium heather and that would be a better sailboat with heavy weather at the cost of a slightly worse performance in light wind. That will cost some extra money but that is not something that it would make the price skyrocket (I would say something about 5000€ over the lead keel option).
Bottom point: are all cruising boats the same? definitively not and you need to now something about boats if your choice is not only determined (as it is for most) by the prettiest and more comfortable interior
But that does not mean that the boats that are on the market are not good, quite the opposite, there are almost no bad boats. The competition is so hard that the bad boats don't have place. Talking about the Oceanis 41 for example, even if it is not the boat that I want it is a very smart and well design boat that would suit much more people than the Salona 41, for instance. Off course I would not be one of them, but that is another story