Originally Posted by martini
this is an essential piece of safety equipment
I see. That sounds reasonable to me. The uses are countless but a few occur to me as I type:
1. To count the number of remaining passengers/crew - lose too many and the boat could be in danger of being undermanned.
2. Watch the expressions of the passengers/crew. No rictus of fear means you can safely go faster.
3. Keep an eye on excess water in the stern section - no water means you can crack on a bit faster.
I'm sure it has many more uses.....
... it also occurs to me that I have no idea what it is!?