|US Navy photo.|
Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.
-- Rule 5 of both the US Inland Navigation Rules and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
The duty of the lookout is of the highest importance. Upon nothing else does the safety of those concerned so much depend. A moment’s negligence on his part may involve the loss of his vessel with all the property and the lives of all on board…It is the duty of all courts charged with the administration of this branch of jurisprudence to give it the fullest effect whenever the circumstances are such as to call for its application.
The look-out must be able to give full attention to the keeping of a proper look-out and no other duties shall be undertaken or assigned which could interfere with that task.
The concept of a lookout can be misleading until an incident hits the courtroom. “Did you have a lookout posted?’
“Well, yessir judge. We were all lookouts. Plain clear weather. How were we to know this guy would sail right out of the docks where we couldn’t see him coming? I know sailboats have the right –of-way over power, but we couldn’t see him, judge.”
“Please answer the question. Was anyone on board specifically designated as lookout? Did you tell him or her that he or she was lookout?”
“Well, no judge, you see we could all see…”
Forget it. You just lost your case.