I've had my Clearwater 35 for 17 years and have really enjoyed the flexibility of a retractable keel. We've sailed her locally and have taken a dozen or so longer trips ranging from 200 mi. to 1700 mi. and have dealt with a range of wind and sea conditions. She is not what I would call "tender".
Our displacement is approx. 12,500 lbs. and our lead ballast is 5000 lbs. Half of the ballast is glassed into the very slack bilge and the other half is encapsulated within the leading edge of our elliptical fiberglas keel. With this ballast down low and a beam of 11' 4", she stays on her feet. We typically do not heel more than 20 degrees when close hauled. By comparison, a Bristol 35.5 k/cb is noticeably more tender.
Our keel pivots on a 1.5" dia. pin and can be completely retracted, along with our rudder which pivots like a centerboard, to allow us to float in less than 2' of water. We have an electric winch to raise the keel, with a switch by the helm for raising the keel on short notice. The interior headroom under the coachroof is 6'3", but the main cabin is divided by a keel trunk that extends to the coachroof--unlike the more open layout of the Southerly's. The accompanying photo shows our boat with the keel and rudder completely retracted.
Maintenance of the retracting hardware consisted of upgrading the original SS keel pin and replacing the aluminum rudder trunk with one of composite construction. That work was done 13 years ago and the only additional maintenance was replacing the dacron Stayset keel pennant, on a 10 year cycle. This is something I can do myself.
We've been caught in winds in the 30-45 kt range on several occasions and--although we would rather be somewhere else at these times--the boat handled it well. Our boat has inboard shrouds and is very weatherly, which helps.
When all is said and done, we wouldn't give up shoal draft.