Nothing wrong with cautious skippering. Such skippers live to cluck many another day.
Local situational awareness and assessment is the key. Much depends on whether the grounding could be against the hard [e.g., rocks, corral] or onto the soft [mud or sand]. Venture slowly onto the soft and almost never is there harm done as long as one is not dealing with harsh currents, large tides or waves. Banging the hard, well that makes for some unpleasant sounds.
I particularly enjoy the advantages when using a swing keel
on one of my sailboats, which is left unpinned [not locked in the full down position] during non-harsh weather
conditions when there is no probability of a knock down or capsizing. Typically the 5.75 foot draft keel
touches bottom far before the bow and the swing keel then acts as an iron depth sensor
when operating in one fathom or less. If stopped by unintentional dragging of the swing keel, one can just raise the keel partway, and continue on your way, or the keel just tilts up on its own accord and slides over an obstruction [e.g. a sunken log] and then resets itself to full depth
when having slid past the obstruction, albeit with a bit of a clunk and a lurch. Slow speed is required when using the keel as your depth sensor
. A fixed keel is not as forgiving, banging those bottoms can lead to sinking or big repair
I call that navigating by braille. One truly gets a "feel" for the boat
, rather the boat feels for you.
Heck I occasionally bump into the dock
at the marina harder than the bottom when exploring close to shore or up a channel. And yes, there are a few scratches [okay, read gouges] on the keel where it has hit a large boulder when approaching to beach on to a shore I am unfamiliar with.
And remember tows are generally just a call away. You haven't lived until you need a tow to get off the shallows. Lord knows I have come to the aid of a few boats that wandered where it was not suitable, but those were power
It is always fun to see what is around the next bend until you go past one too many bends. Particularly fun when in a sail boat
as people on shore or power
boats are wondering how you can navigate into the shallows, [the secret being the keel and rudder
are raised unseen].