Sure footed (at least my definition) is howa function of how tender the boat is. For example: two boats, close hauled, canvas up, both get hit by a 25 knot gust.
About sure footed what I mean was this:
The Catalina 400 hit by a strong gust, if heeled beyond 60º (or something like that) will have considerable less reserve stability to resist to further heeling forces than a 38 on the same situation.
The reason is that while the 400 has a great part of its stability derived from form stability, the 38 has more derived from the ballast. That means the 400 will have a lot more initial stability (low angles of heel) and sailing power, while the 38, that has more ballast (B/D), needs more important heel angles to have the power for sailing. But when the heel angles increase greatly (strong gust), then the form stability is not working anymore and the 400 has to rely, as the 38, on its ballast to re-right the boat. As the 38 has a superior ballast (B/D) it will be more effective on this situation.
I am familiar with a lot of boats that meet the tender criteria. Please note that many of these boats are NOT unseaworthy. Quite the opposite. Some of the best examples I know of are very well respected blue water boats(but typically based upon old designs). I hesitate putting these here as people will get very defensive about their boats. I will say that our Catalina 380 was very tender. A strong gust of wind and she would drop on her rail and slowly try to accelerate.
My Catalina 400, on the other hand, is very slow to heel. When the wind gusts, she quickly accelerates, then starts to heel over. Another boat I am familiar with that does this is the Beneteau 40 (new one). Interesting that they both seem to have a very similar hull design (flat bottom/relatively hard chime).
What I have said explains what you say above
The problem with some of the flat bottom boats is that they have a tendency to pound in large, steep seas, which becomes very uncomfortable. Our boat at 10+ foot seas will pound if you do not decelerate her. The heavier, round bottom boats do not seem to have this problem - like the C380, Tayana 42, and a few others I have been on. However, even decelerated, my boat will outrun the others.
I have had more than one person tell me that there is a particular manufacturer which makes flat bottom boats that pound and they would never own another one. As such, they avoid the more modern hull designs in favor of the rounder bottomed, old designed boats. That is not the case with the C400 except in large seas and it can be avoided by decelerating the boat instead of having the boat jump off the seas.
Yes, you are right about that. All boats are compromises. Here you exchange some comfort in a particular sailing position and with some sea conditions for a superior comfort in all other sailing positions (less heel) a superior speed (a lot less weight for the same overall stability) and a less expensive boat (less weight and less forces involved).
The only way to counteract the pounding that you refer to on a modern boat is to make it with very narrow entries and that means a narrow front part of the boat. That's why my favorite magazine, after testing an incredible number of boats, reached the conclusion I had already reached some time before
: The best cruising sailboats, in what regards sailing are modern cruiser-racers with a moderate sail plan. These ones have those fine entries that I was talking about and also the kind of hull Catalina 400 has.
Of course, cruising is not only sailing and most people will prefer more substantial front entries (at the cost of more pounding) and a better front cabin, with an island berth. By the way, that is the reason why the XC42 has a narrower front cabin comparing to the Catalina, even if it is not a cruiser-racer.
Personally, I would never, ever own another round bottom, tender, slow boat... many of which are considered the 'bluewater' boats. Many people feel that they would rather have a boat that is a tank and would sail through a hurricane. My opinon is to not sail through the hurricane in the first place. THese are the same people that motor everywhere they go because the boat cannot get out of its own way. However, I also woul dnot own a boat that pounds in 3 foot seas. There is a balance in there and I am not sure how to tell it without sailing the boat or discussing it with owners. ...
Brian, rest assured, it is not only you
That's why all boat manufacturers that really sell boats have changed for what we call modern boats. That's because almost nobody wants the other compromise.
Regarding modern boats, they all sail well or very well in good sailing conditions, but there are some differences (in what regards hull design) between them. One regards larger or finer front entries (less pounding) another regards B/D.
When the weather is bad, to go against the wind you need more power and you need fine entries to have a smooth wave passage. On these circumstances hull form stability is not enough. You need also a good ballast that is potentiated by a bulbed keel and it is here that you can really differentiate boats. Some of the big production modern cruisers will have to motor sail on these conditions...but anyway, most of its owners will never be out there when the weather is like that
Now, please look again to the XC 42, see the fine entries and look at the huge D/B. That one will not have any problem going against the wind in bad weather. Also not any problem with reserve stability at great angles of heel (recovering from a knock-down). That big ballast will give it a big LPS and a smaller inverted stability (for re-righting after a roll). That's what I call a surefooted boat.
Unfortunately all this comes at a price and the XC-42 costs not far from twice the price of a Catalina 400. Do you need such an expensive boat? It depends. Are you going to use all its advantages, do you really need them? The answer is NO, at least for 95% of all sailors...So why buy such an expensive boat if you don't need it?
That's why big production manufacturers don't build boats like that: Most sailors would not pay the difference in price.
By the way, I love your boat's galley. One of the best, if not the best in any 40ft cruiser I know .