How to avoid operator lookout errors
According to recreational boating statistics, operator lookout errors are among the top contributing factors to injury or death on the water. When it comes to keeping a better lookout, you can improve your skills by learning to read the water before leaving the dock and while underway.
Know your water before you leave the dock. As a responsible pilot, you need to anticipate problems and carefully watch for dangers while underway. In addition to studying the chart for your route, you should make a broader analysis of the area, paying attention to the current, tide and wind. Make a list of dangers to watch out for. The pilot who looks for trouble may very well avoid it.
Learn to read the surface of the water. The water’s surface provides a rich source of information for pilots. It lets us know the direction and speed of the current. A short chop can indicate the wind’s direction and intensity and exposes floating items you should avoid. Odd-angled broad-V patterns on the surface warn of hidden underwater debris. For example, a solitary exposed reed provides the only indication a pilot gets that his boat is about to run aground on an uncharted Hudson River mudflat. No GPS or Internet connection can compare to a trained pilot’s eye continuously interpreting the water’s surface ahead. –Daniel Fannon
Feel at home on the water
Learn to boat with confidence by taking the Boat Handling course online from America’s Boating Club.