Importance of keeping a good lookout reinforced in new safety campaign

Growing concern about the high number of collisions on WA waterways has prompted a new safety education campaign encouraging skippers to keep a good lookout.

Inattention and an over-reliance on electronic navigation was to blame for collisions and groundings accounting for more than 50 per cent of boating incidents in WA in the past five years.

Keeping a good lookout was one of the basic responsibilities of being in charge of a vessel and skippers who failed to do so were gambling with their safety and that of their passengers and other water users.

For the five years to January 2014 DoT investigated 889 marine incidents in WA of which 454 were collisions or groundings.   

There is a direct link between failure to keep a proper lookout and the high number of collisions and groundings which over the past five years resulted in three deaths and 15 serious injuries.
A skipper who maintains a good lookout and is aware of local conditions and hazards is best placed to return safe after a voyage.
Skippers wanting more information about keeping a good lookout can visit or contact the marine safety hotline on 1300 863 308.  

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Lookout when on the water
There is nothing more important to boating safety than keeping a lookout for possible danger. When boating, danger can come from different directions, so maintaining a proper lookout is crucial to boating safely. In fact, maintaining a proper lookout is one of the navigation rules.
WA Marine Act
In the WA Marine Act 1982 Prevention of Collisions at Sea Regulations 1983; Rule-5 Lookout "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 so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision."
Simply put, look around and listen for danger in all conditions so you can make good decisions and avoid hitting another boat, something in the water, or even land.
Operators of vessels need to maintain a proper lookout for good reason: many boating accidents and collisions are caused by a failure to maintain a proper lookout.
While the requirement to maintain a lookout is simple, the advice to take it seriously isn't always heeded.
Proper Lookout
The key to maintaining a proper lookout is simply making it a habit and using common sense.
Skippers who fail to keep a proper lookout not only endanger their own lives and those of their passengers, they also jeopardise the safety of other water users.

How do you maintain a proper lookout?

The following guidelines will help boat owners assess possible danger and make good decisions to avoid collisions with objects or other boats, keeping skippers and passengers safe.
Just looking about occasionally will not suffice. If you are the skipper of the boat, take the following action:
1.    Delegate someone to be a lookout. Assign your passengers with the task of lookout and position them so that they can easily see in all directions.
2.    Both the skipper and the lookout watch carefully while the boat is in motion. If something is spotted by the skipper or the lookout, share the information clearly.
3.    Be prepared to take action if you see danger. You may need to turn, slow down or take other action.
4.    Avoid complacency; it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that endangers you and your passengers. As the skipper of a boat, it is your responsibility to maintain a proper lookout at all times, thus ensuring the safety of your vessel and passengers.
•    Lookout for anything that could present a danger such as other boats, land, sand bars, rocks, reefs, buoys or lights, crab/cray pots, debris in the water, marine mammals and discoloured water.
•    Tell passengers to report anything they see along with the direction and distance from the vessel.
•    Those maintaining a lookout should remain alert and give their full attention to the task.
•    Maintaining a lookout at night, in the fog, or in hazardous sea conditions is critical.
•    Further information about collision rules (rules of the road) can be found on the Rules at a glance page.