Latest Incidents and News



  • A considerably more pleasant incident than normal! It’s not often we get to celebrate an exchange of wedding vows at our station. However, a couple recently decided that NCI Gwennap Head was exactly where they would like to be to make their vows and so, as the sun shone and a SE breeze blew, Richard and Sarah arrived with their witnesses, family and friends. Surrounded by gorse, granite and sea, the landscape at Gwennap Head made a very special backdrop for an informal ceremony, after their wedding at Penzance, that morning....and, to make sure that the celebrations continued, our Station Manager Ian Vinnicombe was on hand to present the bride and groom with a signed card and a bottle of bubbly, on behalf of Gwennap Head NCI. In the past, Richard had enjoyed many happy hours rock climbing in front of our watch (a favourite climbing spot for many climbers and the military), and both he and Sarah consider Gwennap Head to be a very special place. Hence their decision! As such, we were very happy to play our part in making their special day, extra-special. It’s not often we have such a happy occasion to witness and log, and so we wish Richard and Sarah every happiness in their new life together.
  • Sea fishing is very popular in our area but, sometimes, the lure of a fish supper seems to make people forget about the risks from that watery medium which our aquatic friends exist in!
    On a bright, crisp day, with a significant swell running, our watchkeeper was perturbed to see a small rib, with two people fishing from it, heading towards Kettle’s Bottom, the stretch of water between the Longships lighthouse and Lands End. Even at the best of times, the water in this area is ‘lively’ and, on this day, it was more like ‘excited’, possibly even ‘hyperactive’ (to stretch a simile!). Since the small rib was finding the swell heavy going, our watchkeeper contacted Falmouth Coastguard and was requested to maintain observation on the situation. Eventually, the rib rounded Land’s End (likely, with two extremely wet occupants) and disappeared from view behind Dr Syntax’s Head....since the sea there was no calmer than on our side of Land’s End, our watchkeeper immediately contacted NCI Cape Cornwall (our shoulder station) and asked them to acquire the rib and keep an eye on it, which they did.
    On the basis that our watchkeeper heard nothing further and there was no VHF radio traffic about the situation, we assume that the two fisherman successfully reached wherever they were going. However, given the sea conditions and the small size of their vessel, they might have been better off with a trip to the local chippy, rather than trying to catch their own!
  • The seas between Gwennap Head and the Scillies can be very rough. It's bad enough when the duty watchkeeper sees the ferry Scillonian III pitching up and down, so one can imagine how the crew of this shallow-draft work boat (see below) felt during a recent severe gale (40-50mph winds). Given the extremely unforgiving sea conditions, our watch keeper made sure to keep a very close eye on them, through our main spotting scope, whilst they were in our field of view.

Terramare in Storm


  • Even for West Cornwall, getting two 90mph+ storms on consecutive days (Eunice and Franklin) is a bit extreme! And, as might be expected, due to our highly exposed position, NCI Gwennap Head took quite a hammering. As well as having our west wall guttering ripped off and the roof flashing being partially pealed back, the scaffolding pole on which our weather station is mounted, was snapped by the continual buffeting inflicted by the storms  (see the picture, below). Just before the pole snapped, our weather station was registering almost continual gusts of 94mph...and, since that’s what the anemometer tops out at, the speed was likely even a bit higher than that! Oh well, could have been worse...our colleagues at NCI St.Ives lost most of their roof! Also, props to our duty watchkeepers who, whilst Eunice was howling around, braved the gale with its 90+ mph gusts, to open the watch, that morning




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