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23rd May 2019. The following readers letter appears in July’s issue of the Yachting Monthly magazine.

 Use the NCI

After staying overnight at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Fishbourne we were planning on leaving for Portsmouth the next morning only to wake to thick fog. With two busy shipping lanes to cross we needed to know what was happening in the Solent, particularly since we sail a gaffer with a wooden mast so are invisible to radar. We could have called the Coastguard but instead we called the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), at both its Portsmouth and Lee-on-the-Solent bases.

 To our surprise they reported a mile visibility in the Solent, took our boat's details and promised to look out for us. With the fog starting to lift we prepared to sail.Half an hour later Lee-on-the-Solent NCI called back to report that visibility in the North Solent had closed down so it would be at least a couple of hours before we could leave, by which time the ebb through the harbour mouth would have set in.

 We were particularly impressed that they had taken the trouble to call back and kept a record of our number. The NCI is a valuable resource to the cruising yachtsman and perhaps under-used. With 54 stations keeping visual as well as radar watch throughout daylight hours, we shall be making better use of it.

Garry Flashman

(Extract from Readers Letters by kind permission of of Yachting Monthly)

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