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. Along the Dorset coast, we are fortunate in having four Coastwatch stations. Details of these can be found by clicking on the links on the right.
Since October 2014, Coastwatch has operated a VHF listening watch on channel 65. The callsign is NCI followed by the station name. For example, “NCI Portland”. NCI stations cannot be contact by DSC. Calls on Channel 16 will be picked up by the coastguard, so instead, call direct on channel 65.
This means that as well as keeping a watch on vessels in their area, stations can give mariners valuable local information. For example, they can handle radio checks, report on local weather conditions (but cannot re-broadcast the inshore waters forecast) and some can check your AIS transponder is working. In exceptional circumstances, if you are unable to contact the coastguard, they will do so on your behalf and relay instructions. In our area, they can give a report on local conditions in the Portland and St Alban’s Head tidal races.