National Coastwatch - NCI Southend

Mobile 07815 945210

Registered Charity No. 1159975

Who we are is quite simple; we are all volunteers! 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.

There are, currently, 56 NCI stations operational and manned by over 2,500 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Hornsea, in Yorkshire in the North East.

The range of experience or our watchkeepers is very wide, and extremely varied. For example, we currently have within our ranks a Doctor, a retired Master Mariner, Accountants, Postmen, leisure sailors, and people with no experience of sailing or any form of marine involvement. In short, there is no requirement for previous experience. NCI offers training designed not only to make you an efficient watchkeeper of value to the community but also to increase your general knowledge of maritime matters so that you can sensibly take part in nautical discussions.

Whilst high technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, a computer cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat or a yachtsman or fisherman in trouble. Other vulnerable activities like diving, wind surfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding and canoeing are made safer with visual surveillance.

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies, offering a variety of skills and experience and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met.

We carry out a minimum of two 4-hour watches per month, on a voluntary basis.

A log of all water-based activities is kept during each watch and, when requested, weather conditions can be passed to yachtsmen and fishermen before they put to sea. Also, with the new generation of web cams, we can identify sea conditions for those who wish to check on the weather or sea state prior to doing any water sport activity, hopefully reducing the need for MCA response and RNLI call-outs. During each watch other activities such as canoeing and diving etc. are closely observed, as are bathers, walkers and climbers who use our shoreline.

Over 140,000 hours of organised coastal surveillance nationally were completed in 2020 alone, all at no cost to the public. Funding is managed by a Board of Trustees with a constitution agreed by the Charity Commission and relies heavily on local support.

If you are interested, then a telephone call to the Station Manager for further details will lead to a one-watch visit to the Station; we will arrange with MOD Security for a one -day pass to enable you to visit the Station to get a glimpse of our activities and the operation of the Station.


Who are We and What Do We Do