i'm not a typical beach sunset kind of person, but i guess more important question is what do you visualised as nice photos, before seeking the technical aids.
i guess most will settle with a full or semi-silhouette. i thought depth of field is usually not the most pertinent issue as most subjects are far away anyway.
1. exposure: meter at midtone, usually some distance from the sun, not on the sun, neither at the shadow or backlit subjects (or do so with -EV), if possible, retain and balance exposure with grad ND if slow overall exposure is not compromised by handheld instability. in lowlight non dynamic subject theme, consider tripod. consider flash if you dun mind harsh light on subject (if nearby within 2m) and shadows in adjacent foreground.
2. subject interest: try to plan for some interesting foreground silhouette, do not settle for a plain shoreline, sea, horizon, sky and sun composition. have patience with timing and not shoot too late when it is too dark.
3. standards: focus correctly at semi-far subject, such as foregound people. ensure stability on low light condition.
woah... that is news to me after all this years heheh...Did it say for how long you need to point it directly at the sun before it starts to cook your coating? heheheheheheh...
I know you should never aim a lens like a telephoto and look at it with your eyes as it will be damaging. You sure it was not referring to this? If not all those who shot alot of sunrise and sunset will be throwing away their lens at the end of each session heheheh.... sorry it just don't add up neither did google throw up any new theories on sun ray damaging lens.
one more thing that i forgot and as you can see from various examples.
when the sun is in high intensity, esp shortly after sunrise, it got to be hidden partially behind foreground objects to reduce the intensity and break the rays. if not it would be too bright, causing an overall overexposure and relative underexposure of the foreground.