By Capt. Carl Kelly
US Coast Guard Rule Number 5 requires that “every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions as to make a full appraisal of the situation.”
The obvious intent is to avoid accidents.
I have served on boats when one person was specifically designated to watch and listen, and when in heavy traffic or chaotic situations I ask someone aboard to help me keep watch. Also, every time I boat I do periodic 360 degree scans of the waterway.
While not keeping a proper watch is a contributing factor in many accidents, most boaters involved in accidents will say they were watching. And they probably were.
But, in traffic it is easy to miss the fact that your visibility can be temporarily obstructed by some of the traffic, or that your attention can be diverted by activity on one side while there is a developing danger on the other.
When there is a lot of traffic ask someone aboard to help you keep a lookout. It is prudent to do so.