About Us

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. When people find themselves in trouble, we are there to alert HM Coastguard and direct the appropriate rescue services to the casualty.

High technology and sophisticated systems such as radar and telecommunications have vastly improved safety at sea, but there is no substitute for a watchful pair of eyes. Accidents do happen and a computer or technology cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat, a yacht with problems or children or adults in trouble. That is why our lookouts and watchkeepers are an often-unseen lifeline to all those who use our coastal waters, footpaths and coastline.


In 1994 when two fishermen lost their lives off the Cornish coast near a recently closed Coastguard lookout, local people decided to open and restore the visual watch. When the first station was opened at Bass Point on the Lizard, NCI was born. Today, 2800 trained volunteer watchkeepers at 60+ stations keep a visual and listening watch around the coastline of England and Wales.

Click the More button to go to our Living History site for more about each of our stations.


In summary, the National Coastwatch business strategy document
encapsulates five strategic goals to expand NCl’s capability to help save lives:
1 Establish NCl’s role in water safety, widely sharing safety information
2 Collaborate more closely with partners in the Search and Rescue community
3 Expand our coverage around the coast in areas of greatest need
4 Implement technology that enhances our operations and keeps us relevant
5 Win the hearts and minds of the public nationally and locally

Running NCI

National Coastwatch is run by a team of Trustees and Management Executives supported by National and Station Officers. For more information click the More button below.