19th April 2018. In near-gale force conditions with winds gusting to 35mph, the watchkeeper at the National Coastwatch station at Gwennap Head monitored a VHF radio distress call between HM Falmouth Coastguard (FCG) and a yacht which had been attempting to sail around Land’s End. The conditions were so bad that the yacht had abandoned their attempt and had turned back towards Newlyn. Unfortunately, their engine had failed and they were making little or no headway, eight and a half miles off Land’s End.

The yacht was able to supply their latitude and longtitude but these were garbled. However, the watchkeeper was able to contact Falmouth Coastguar to report that they had a visual sighting on the vessel and were able to provide an accurate position and tidal information report. Falmouth Coastguard were then able to task the Penlee Severn-class lifeboat “Ivan Ellen” to take the yacht back to Newlyn harbour under tow, while the Gwennap Head watchkeeper monitored the situation until the Coxswain Patch Harvey and his crew arrived on the scene.

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Currently 56 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.


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