The photo was taken quickly before the vessel was going to disappear behind some mangroves, and is not as crisp as I would like it to have been. The reason I took it was the Sarasota County Sheriff department boat's Garmin radar was not turned on, and I expect local law enforcement operated vessels to maintain a higher standard for the boating public's edification. Granted it was a nice day, and the boat was idling down the intercoastal, but it was also a busy day on the water. Lets review quickly the two rules. The first is.......
Rule 5 - Lookout
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.
In this case I'm pretty sure the officer was paying attention. But the next rule is.......
Rule 7 - Risk of Collision
Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.
Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects.
"Appropriate to the prevailing conditions" is certainty a subjective collection of words, but let me frame this scenario in a slightly different setting.
If this was your boat, and a few seconds later it was involved in a collision you would immediately get two tickets, even if the accident was not your fault.
One ticket would be for failure to keep proper lookout. This translates to if you had been paying close attention, the accident would not have occurred in the first place. Regardless of circumstances you will typically get this ticket. It's a "Catch 22" sort of thing.
The next ticket would be for not using your radar under the "You didn't use all possible means to avoid a collision" portion of the rules." This could also include your unused binoculars sitting safely in its case in the main salon, the AIS system that wasn't turn on and others of similar ilk.
This wasn't a tragic, and flagrant violation of the rules depending on how strictly you want to interpret them. As I said the boat was at traveling idle speeds on a nice day in the intercoastal waterway. I just think a better message would be sent to the public if it had been operating. As a taxpayer I also know the radar will last longer if it's used on a regular basis. I would hate to think that on the day one when it's really needed, the officer discovers its moving parts are corroded solidly in place. You guys with the radar domes don't get off the hook either. I have a marine radar detector device, and I'm watching you closely also.