shallow draft sea worthy craft?
It has been done. Look at many of Ted Hood''s designs, particulatly the Wauquiez Hood 38 (sisterships Bristol 38.8 and Little Harbor 38). She has a 4.5 ft draft with a keel/centerboard design. She sails as well as any boat on her keel alone and can use the CB to go to windward like many raceboats. You will find this design on many high end boats like Hinckley, Little Harbor (I wonder why :O), Alden, Bristol and others.
If you use the online calculators you will find impressive numbers for comfort factor and angle of vanishing stability. While these calculations are arguably a poor surrogate for the actual data, they can serve as one simplistic reference point when comparing similar boats. In the case of the Hood 38, the AVS is extremely high...at least by the formula used. These calculators aside, if you read the 30th Ed of Adlard Coles Heavy Weather Sailing, you will find in Chapter 2 (I think) a treatise by Olin Stephens on hull forms and see that the hull of the Hood 38 looks quite familiar in his data as having and has a very high AVS.
In my experience (you must have guessed by now that I have a Hood 38), her motion is so easy and comfortable, I am jaded. I am very pleased. And her stability in a blow and rough weather is quite incredible. These boats are sailed in every ocean of the world, including the Southern ocean and many have circumnavigated.
But, all this comes at a price...greater sail area to handle (something I have not minded thus far). She IS a mederately heavy boat with a high ballast to displacement ratio. She displaces 22,000 lbs and has 11,000 lbs of ballast. There is more weight to carry and thus more canvas.
Hopefully, you will get a response from someone who is truly an expert in the field, I can only lend my opinion. There are many schools of though regarding displacement. I personally am in the school that focuses on simple Newtonian physics where you want mass to counter mass (even a small wave weighs 10,000 lbs). Nonetheless, having this much displacement means carrying more sail and more sail to handle. She has fine sail handling gear, including Lewmar 48 primaries. Still, work is work. You are either up for it or not. Smaller crew might find this boat a challenge, might not. That said, I know a wonderful couple who are both 70 and race one. I was looking for exactly this type of boat and feel rewarded with my choice.
Restricting your choice to a certain draft limits your choices in a cruising boat tremendously. You should know this going in. But, for many, such as myself, this is a critical need and while almost any draft can be accomodated in the waters we might chose to sail, there are sailors who do not want the depth of the water to be THE overwhelming consideration in their cruising plans.
This is just one option, hopefully others will chime in and give you some alternatives.
My best to all,