The lack of a proper lookout is the major cause of boating accidents involving collision between boats, aides to navigation such as buoys or lights, fixed objects such as land, sand bars, rocks and reefs, or floating objects such as debris in the water, and marine mammals.
“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.”
What this means is that we must keep eyes and ears open to observe or hear something that may endanger someone or affect their safety. You must look up for bridge clearances and power lines, down for floats, swimmers, logs and divers flags and side to side for traffic prior to turning your boat. Additionally, it is also important to look behind you to see if any traffic is going to overtake you. A proper lookout can avoid collisions.
A good rule to follow is to assign one or more people to have no other assigned responsibilities except the task of lookout. They can then rotate the lookout duty.