The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is an entirely voluntary organisation keeping a visual watch along UK shores. Each station assists in the protection and preservation of life at sea and around the UK coastline. Currently, 50 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2,000 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles.
NCI watchkeepers provide the ‘eyes and ears’ along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening and visual watch.
They can spot distress flares, an overturned boat, a yachtsman or fisherman in trouble where electronic surveillance cannot, and monitor vulnerable activities like diving, wind surfing and canoeing. All watchkeepers are fully trained to deal with emergencies.
NCI has announced that it has been allocated a national licence by OFCOM to use VHF Channel 65, strongly supported by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
VHF Channel 65 will facilitate communications between an NCI station and seafarers.
From 1st October 2014, during the hours of operation listed below, it is now possible to obtain the following information from your nearest NCI station, using VHF Channel 65:
• Voice radio checks
• Actual sea and weather conditions observed from the NCI station addressed
• Contact details for local facilities such as marinas, harbour authorities, yacht clubs etc.
Calls to NCI stations should be made directly on Channel 65 using their call sign which is the location of the NCI Station followed by ‘NCI’:
For example: “Calshot NCI, Calshot NCI; this is yacht xxx; Radio check please, over.”
NCI stations often seek new volunteer watchkeepers. No previous experience is necessary and full training is provided. If you would like to learn more about this interesting and rewarding role, information is available on the NCI website at www.nci.org.uk, including contact details of your local NCI station.
Solent Group, NCI