Please consider joining our team – performing a vital role in our community.

coastwatch volunteerNCI volunteer Watchkeepers are the ears and eyes along our coastline, keeping a visual observation watch, monitoring marine Radio channels, using radar and AIS equipment and providing a listening watch in poor visibility.

Watchkeepers provide the vital link with all the emergency services and provide an emergency contact point on land for both sea and shore users and a search base for lost children.

We are always in need of volunteers, to help spread the load and to allow us to develop and expand our services. We are a friendly team who welcome new members.

Our Duties

Watchkeepers remain vigilant at all times. Our surveillance work is mainly routine, but all NCI volunteers are trained to act in an emergency, report to the MCA and co-ordinate with the search and rescue services.

On each watch our volunteers keep accurate timed logs of all activities. They monitor sea and weather conditions, alerting them to possible dangerous situations; passing on information to yachtsmen and fishermen on request. We provide an emergency contact point on land for both sea and shore users.

Watchkeepers closely observe and monitor vulnerable activities such as canoeing, boardsailing, diving, ski-jetting and others as well as beach based activities.

Can anyone join?

Yes! – male or female, between aged 18 to 85 years old in reasonably good health, must be able to read and write, able to climb a few stairs, and have reasonable eye-sight. In some cases Coastwatch accept 17 year olds as cadets, but they are required to be sponsored by a joining parent or responsible adult.

If you decide to join us you will be made most welcome. Initially you will be invited to do a sample watch at a time of your choosing to see if you like and enjoy our work. If you do, then you will be invited to join a regular watch, again at a time to suit yourself, if you don’t, then thank you for your time, we hope it has been interesting.

Time commitment?

You may volunteer for as many duties as you feel you can cover to enable us to maintain coverage of these busy area’s. Some members work on a seasonal basis and their restricted availability during high season is respected. Normally, our members commit to do at least one regular watch per week, a watch being of 4 ½ hours duration, 09.30hrs – 14.00hrs or from 13.30hrs – 18.00hrs, 7 days a week, sometimes additional evening watches when the demand arises. In winter months all watches terminate at Dusk. Of course you may choose a time convenient to yourself when you would like to do your watch.

Our uniform is simple, consisting of black or navy trousers and a white pilot shirt with appropriate epaulette rank markings. A NATO type jumper may also worn, suitably badges. Uniform items may be purchased locally or our quartermaster will order these with NCI embroidered badges on your behalf.


You will be expected to attend the enjoyable bi-monthly training sessions, but most your training will be done hands-on whist on a regular watch with a qualified crew. You will be taught how to take bearings, estimate distance, how to chart latitude and longitude, ship recognition, distress signals and danger signs, how to summon the correct emergency help, and instructed on beach safety.

Training is in no way oppressive or demanding: it is done at the trainees own pace and ability. An average trainee can qualify as a basic Watchkeeper in 12/15 watch periods, or 3 months but training is on-going. Additionally, Watchkeepers are given the opportunity to take an RYA certified Marine VHF-DSC Radio operator’s course, qualify as a Marine radio operator, and be awarded your ‘Short Range Certificate’ – a major personal achievement in your NCI career. This again, is purely a matter of personal choice.

If, however, at any time you decide NCI is not for you, then you are free to leave without any further commitment or obligation.


Should a Watchkeeper wish to progress, then they may continue their studies and service, and qualify as a Senior Watchkeeper, but this is purely a matter of personal choice for the individual. An individual may progress through the ranks right up to trustee level should they so wish and show the commitment and ability to do so.

Our Team

Each Coastwatch team relies on the backing of many administrative honorary positions, including Treasurer, Secretary, Recruitment officer, Training Officer, Almoner, Beach Safety, IT team members, service and maintenance team, and fund-raising team. Many members have additional skills such as painter, carpenter, electrician, etc which they put to good use in NCI for the betterment of their team, its premises, its equipment and their colleagues.

Each individual Coastwatch station is run by a volunteer Station Manager, assisted by two Deputy Managers and is responsible for the recruitment and provision of trained personnel, equipment and maintenance of the Station.

Watchkeepers provide their own uniform and pay their own fares or expenses going to and from duty. The station provides all equipment including binoculars, telescopes, radios, radar, telephone, computer, AIS, Navtex and fax facilities. Local companies and the efforts of the NCI members, their families and friends raise the necessary funds to support our work.


Many youngsters have found pride and respect in joining whilst many senior citizens have found a new purpose in life, a new circle of genuine friends and a sense of belonging and serving their community in joining National Coastwatch

For UK National enquiries telephone: 0870 7872147 for Lincolnshire telephone: 0795 8038564 or 01754 610900 or use our website contact form