Eyes along the coast …

A very reassuring article by Mick Gale, Watch Keeper

The National Coastwatch Institute (NCI) is staffed by volunteers working closely with the RNLI, Coastguard rescue and The Maritime Agency at Falmouth (formerly known as The Coastguard). Our nearest Lookout is at Boscastle but why should we be aware of that in Bude?

Our visitors, as well as many of the locals, take to the water in kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis or small leisure craft.  This takes us out beyond the visual contact of our lifeguards, out of earshot of those on the beach and often without any means of alert when things go wrong.

From the Lookout at Boscastle, staffed from 8.00 till 20.00 hrs, there is a powerful telescope which enables the watch keepers to observe the sea across Bude Bay, into Crooklets Beach and all the way along to Hartland giving accurate bearings on the sighting of any vessel in the area. If that is you out there, your presence will be noted and logged and you will be checked on regularly to ascertain that you are still afloat and all is well.

But what if all is not well?   The watch will alert the emergency services and remain in contact with them.  Rescue craft will be quickly out to you whilst the watch keeper maintains visual contact in order to communicate the exact position which may have drifted from the original spot.

Luckily, such rescues don’t occur too often, but often enough to keep us watch keepers on our toes!  Before setting out please remember we are there to help you but here are some tips which might save your life:

  • Call us at the Lookout on 01840 250965 tell us where you are heading to and your ETA for return (we can advise you on weather alerts and sea state too).
  • Have a charged mobile phone secure in a sealed bag with you, on your person if possible.
  • If you have a marine radio you can contact the lookout on channel 65
  • Instal the App “What3words” on your phone.
  • Have emergency flares on board.
  • Wear something bright coloured and preferably a life jacket.
  • Stay with your craft if it is still afloat.


The Atlantic is not a pond as the Americans refer to it; the ocean is a magical place to venture out into but it is also unpredictable, changeable, and very lonely but we will keep an eye on you.



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