I Would Like To Become A Watchkeeper


photo of Watchkeeper in TowerAre you interested in contributing to safety around our coast as part of a recognised Search and Rescue facility?   Do you want the satisfaction of giving something back to the community as a member of a very well organised charity which helps to save lives?  Do you want one of the best views of the Solent and Southampton Water?
     We are actively looking for new volunteer Watchkeepers!

Interested in volunteering?

First a few short questions:

  1. Are you over 18?
  2. Can you cope with 82 near vertical steps to the top of the Station Tower
    (the steps are internal to the Tower and are in sets of 10 with landings plus a final set of 12 steps)*?
  3. Can you see distant objects clearly? (wearing glasses/lenses if required)
  4. Are you willing to learn?

*Note: Although there is no disabled access to this Station, other Stations are disabled friendly

If you answered yes to these questions then you have the basic qualifications to be a Watchkeeper.  You do not need to have marine knowledge or a nautical background; you will be given training in the skills that are needed. 

Below is some basic information about Watchkeeping.... photo of watchkeepers in the Tower More detailed information can be viewed in our Welcome Pack for new Watchkeepers.

What are our Aims and Achievements?

Our motto is Eyes along the Coast which is what we do. We provide a competent and professional part of the 'Search and Rescue' (SAR)  community.

Calshot NCI Station has achieved 'Declared Facility Status' which means we are approved by Her Majesty's Coast Guard (HMCG) to be part of SAR and to help with rescue incidents. We have been involved in many incidents during our first 5 years, including many capsized dinghies, yachts aground, windsurfers detached from their boards, broken down jet skis and fishermen in trouble. NCI is the only organisation who have eyes on the water and are continually watching.

What is involved?

Being in the Station lookout for a 4 hour watch ( 3 hours in the Winter).  We look out over the Solent using binoculars or telescope, we monitor  the VHF Radios, record the Weather, and we report casualties to HM Coast Guard. We "SPOT, PLOT, REPORT & RESPOND" to all incidents in our visual area.

The minimum NCI requirement is to complete 2 watches per month, although most of our Watchkeepers aim for 3 or 4 per month; some do 2 or 3 per week.  Shifts are run 7 days a week from 0800 hours to 2000 hours. In the winter this reduces to daylight hours from 0800 hours to 1700 hours (or dusk if earlier).  You choose for yourself which shifts and how many you do using an online booking system.

When on watch we wear a uniform consisting of white pilot shirt, dark grey trousers and black shoes. Some also wear a blue naval style jumper. 

photo of the Ops RoomWhat training will I need and how do I get it?

All the necessary training will be given to you by the dedicated training team plus Watchleaders you are on watch with.  

There will be 3 initial courses which take place for 3 hours on a Saturday morning – 1 per month  You will be issued with a training manual and a check sheet. As soon as you join you will help man the Station lookout as an Assistant or Trainee watchkeeper, doing what every other Watchkeeper is doing... keeping watch... providing Eyes along the Coast.  All other training happens when you are on watch, which is mainly about learning what you can see, and being able to spot, plot, record & respond. Training generally takes about 6 months but you progress at your own pace. 

How much will it cost?

We are a voluntary organisation so we have to raise all our own money to keep the Station operational. You provide your own uniform which is not expensive, you may already have a suitable white shirt and dark trousers.

We ask for a small donation towards training materials which is no more than £10.  There is an annual membership cost which covers your insurance etc. Which is currently 50p per week paid annually. We do have a small fund to help with these costs if you need it.

How do I proceed?

If you are interested in joining us please email our Administration Officer who will guide you through the next step. 

photo of watch keeperThis will require you to: 

  • Visit the Station to see if you are able to climb the steps
  • Speak to the duty Watchleader
  • Confirm you are still interested in joining.

The Administration Officer will then send you an application form for you to complete.  Once this is accepted you will get a comprehensive Email about being a Watchkeeper and you can then start watches straight away as an Assistant Watchkeeper.

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Currently almost 60 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 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 the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

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.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.

Contact Details

0300 111 1202
[email protected]


0845 460 1202
[email protected]

17 Dean Street, Liskeard,
Cornwall, PL14 4AB