Before going on a long car trip, you always plan out your trip (what route you are going to take and potential hazards like detours along the way). The same should be done for boating. Even if it is only a couple of miles, many hazards can exist along the way, so caution and planning is required in order to have a safe and successful trip.
Before Going Out
Plan out where you are going to go. Use a charts to look for potential hazards like rocks and sandbars, look at the tide schedule and check the forecast. Potential hazards are not just static things like rocks, but dynamic things like waves and currents. They change all the time, even by the hour. When you depart for your trip, the waves and wind might be calm, but as the day goes on, the wind tends to increase and the weather can change in an instant.
On the Water
Always keep an eye out for potential obstacles and pay attention to buoys and markers to help guide and/or warn you about potential hazards. Never boat at high speeds close to to shore and adjust your motor based on the depth. The propeller is below your hull depth, so there is nothing to protect it from a ground strike. If the propeller hits the bottom even at low speeds it can be ripped off or sustain serious damage. Also, running aground is a serious safety hazard and can lead to injuries for anyone aboard. It is critical for you as the navigator to be responsible for all safety on the boat and have a proper navigation plan in place to avoid safety risks.
Check my blog here for more information about tides.