After having owned one for shallow water sailing, my views are:
You can reduce your draft
when necessary. How much of a benefit this is, depends on your style and where you sail.
It's more complex and anything more complex is more prone to breakdown.
I'm sure not all centerboard boats are as prone to breakdown as others, so I think its important to understand the particular model boat you are considering as well as what issues that particular centerboard may have.
Some potential problems:
1. board itself more likely to damage
2. housing which can be damaged with serious results that are hard to repair
3. failure of lower/raising mechanism or loosing the board all together.
4. Leaking into the boat through pivit bolt, inspection
port or other open area.
5. Because much of the system is inside a housing, it can be difficult to repair, especially when cruising.
On my boat most all of these things were issues. The wood board became exposed and the leading edge was eaten by sea worms. The lowering mechanism became stripped and rope
attached to it stretched out and slipped. The bolt where it pivited leaked in big seas or when sailing fast. (to the point, the bilge pump
could barely keep up!)
I love to gunkhole and am a big fan of shallow draft
boats, (at 4' 3", I think my newest boat is still too deep), but I'd think very carefully before buying
a centerboard boat again. If you want a shallow draft without the centerboard in an affordable monohull
package, consider some of the bilge keel
boats out there. When I did my last boat search, I would have purchased a Westerly Berwick in a second if I could have found one. I also really like the Konsort as well, but beware of the one that comes up for sale
again and again in Texas