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News from Boscastle




We get the most interesting visitors.

Early in May a family who used to live locally came in to the Lookout. The son was in his late teens and was absolutely amazed to come into the building he remembered so well from his childhood. Apparently his parents had encouraged the children to walk up to Willapark by telling them there was a MacDonalds in the "White Tower". It was always closed.

The same day another family called to enquire about Lundy and came inside to look through the large binos. Whilst with us another couple arrived who were immediately recognised by the family as having been a teacher at the primary school the children had attended and still led only a few streets away from them in Surrey. Small world.

 The youngest Watchkeeper?

There can't be many other Stations with news like this- Ann Garrad who trained with her father John Sillick, had a daughter on 14th March. Congratulations all round and we can't wait for her first watch in about 2034.

  A Winter's Tale 2014

I did try not to mention the weather but, to be honest, it’s been one of our maintalking points since December as individual Watchkeepers regaled each other with tales of screaming winds and ragingseas.

 Very unusually there have been two occasions when it was felt that we should close in the interests of safety. On 1st February it was felt prudent not to send anyone up to struggle across The Stitches, and on 12th February with winds already at Force 9-10 and a Force 12  imminent the afternoon watch stood down at midday.

 Our Wind Generator had already given up the ghost in January and no sooner had the new parts been installed than it decided to part company with the Station roof on 12th February. It is a tribute to the level of expertise we find among our members that it was soon back in business. We were luckier than our colleagues at Lyme Bay - their Lookout was totally destroyed in a storm on Friday 14th!

 On a calmer note there was an excellent Christmas dinner held for the first time atBoscastle Farm Shopwhich everyone enjoyed and we are looking forward to our annual quiz evening with our colleagues from Stepper Point at Padstow.

Our thanks go to Jane Castling, one of our longest serving Auxillary Members, who is hanging up her hat after more than 10 years working with our fund-raising teams.



 The last of 2012

These days it’s hard to tell when one season stops and another starts but the calendar tells me that it’s time for more news from Willapark, so here it is.

Two recent events have shown just how useful a pair of eyes on the cliff can be. Back in September a member of the public had reported a twin masted yacht in trouble South West of Bude. As our watchkeeper had already spotted and logged the vessel in question as single-masted, we were able to pass useful information to the Coast Guard in Falmouth and the mobile unit at Bude. A close watch was kept on the yacht as it continued safely on to Padstow, At the end of October the paramedics called for the Air Ambulance to take someone with a broken leg at Tintagel Island. With the wind gusting Force 7-8, cloud down to about 1000 ft and heavy showers it was decided that a Sea King, Rescue 193, from RNAS Culdrose was better suited to the job. The Watchkeepers were able to give Falmouth Coastguard up to date weather information which was passed to the helicopter who decided to land and evacuate the casualty.

 Back in June we shared a stand at the Royal Cornwall show with our friends from the Stepper Point at Padstow which, even if it didn’t do a great deal for our funds, raised awareness of what we do and produced a few more volunteers

Closer to home we had a really successful Table-Top Sale, even though it had to be postponed several times because of the weather and our thanks to Jane Castling for acting as hostess one again.

For a change the rain kept away from the Car Parks during the Boscastle Festival but even so one of our volunteer parking attendants did manage to get stuck in the mud, broadening our incident management experience!

 In November we were the chosen charity for one of the Napoleon’s regular quiz evenings. Embarrassingly our teams managed to win first and booby prizes!

 Once again we were proud to attend the Remembrance Day Service at the Methodist Church.

 Although one or two more members have had to stand down as anno domini and the climb to the lookout have became more of a chore, our overall numbers look promising. Currently there are 56 members, 36 Watchkeepers, 4 Assistant Watchkeepers- a new rank for people who have recently completed their training, 5 Trainees and 11 Auxiliary Members.


One swimmer was lucky there were eyes along the coast

At 11.30 on Monday 28th June, John Andrews, the Duty Watch at Boscastle NCI Lookout  heard on the VHF Radio that Falmouth Coastguard had received a report of a missing swimmer off Strangles Beach between Boscastle and Crackington Haven. He had already seen that a  local boat, Sharicmar  PW104 was checking pots in the area just  off the Beeny Sisters rocks and, as that was easily the closest vessel to the casualty, he passed the information to Falmouth Coastguard. They requested Sharicmar search the area and at the same time Bude Inshore Lifeboat was launched with an estimated arrival at 12.05.  Sharicmar found the swimmer , a 57 year old male who had been in the water for nearly an hour, and pulled him  from the water and kept him on board until Rescue 169, a Sea King from RAF Chivenor arrived, lowered a medic on board and lifted the casualty to Bude Medical Centre all within the space of half an hour and before the ILB could arrive. Falmouth Coastguard called to thank Sharicmar and NCI Boscastle for their assistance and reported that the casualty was cold but otherwise OK.

Fred Siford

Sad news, Fred Siford who was one of the founder members of Boscastle NCI died on the 11th January 2010.

Fred was harbour master at Boscastle for many years and although not a watchkeeper for NCI he was instrumental in helping to set up the Boscastle station, and with the aid of our mascot Jasper he collected a substantial amount of funds for our station.

His funeral took place at Tintagel Church on the

18th January, where there was a large gathering to celebrate Freds life, including large contingents from Boscastle NCI and Coastguard Cliff Rescue team.

Fred will be sorely missed.




December 2009

The Christmas Dinner at The Bossiney House Hotel was a great success, the highlight of the evening being the Gentlemen's Paper Aeroplane Contest. Predictably and suitably it was won by our Technical Officer! The evening also saw the draw for the winning ticket  for our fund raising raffle which went to a supporter from Wadebridge. The framed picture by local artist, Helen Settrington, was delivered before Christmas.

With over 600 tickets being sold we managed to raise more than £500 towards the funds we need to maintain the Station.

Many thanks to those who bought tickets and to those who sold tickets for us and our very best wishes to you all for 2010.

Round up Novembe 2009

Not so many walkers to log this Summer, and with the spells of wet weather that wasn't too surprising, but we were still on hand to help when we were needed. An ambulance was organised for an injured walker on the Coastal Path, Coastguard asked us to lookout for a missing person, later found without injury, we gave reports on an unidentified object on Strangles Beach and our Manager John Davis  was called out one night to help the Boscastle Coastguard Team investigate reports of flares in the sky. They turned out to be Chinese Lanterns sent up from the Youth Hostel! It may seem like a quiet Summer but the training goes on, just in case.

We were happy to help during the Boscastle Festival, in spite of the amount of rain that fell in the parking field, and managed a good turnout of members for the Remembrance Day Service.

This year we do seem to have had more success in attracting lady watchkeepers and they currently make up over 40% of our strength including five of our Trainers, the Deputy Station Manager,Treasurer,Training Officer,Rostering Officer and Fund Raising Officer. So if any local gentlemen want to even up the numbers we'd be happy to hear from you.

Now we are looking forward to our Christmas celebration and some quieter weather, we registered 80.1knots (92 mph)of wind on 14th November and that can make the walk up to the Lookout very interesting!

23rd May 2009

Two more trainees passed their final tests this week with flying colours.

Congratulations John and Chris.

19th May 2009 

Now  we are really into Spring and Summer with it's attendant cast of visitors can't be far away. 

Already we have had Peregrines gliding effortlessly past our windows and seen Gannets diving just north  of Short Island. But as usual, the weather  has been changeable with a morning watch coming on with glorious sunshine  sparkling on silver seas while the afternoon watch are trying to work out if they can get back to their car without getting drenched by the squally showers they can see coming in from the West. But as they say, "If you can't take a joke...."

Two recent events have shown that we've finished one year and started another at the lookout.

The first was our AGM where John Davis was able to report another successful year.

In the last 12 months the Lookout has been  given a face-lift inside and out, with a lot of the work done by members. The new timber windows were fitted by professionals, and we have all now had the benefit of  a drip and draught-free environment!

In spite of the work on site and the disruption it caused, we still managed to keep the station manned in case of emergency  and found enough volunteers to cover  all  but two  of the extra evening shifts we hoped to provide on Summer Bank Holidays.

Socially we had  an enjoyable barbecue at Mayrose even if the weather was against us, and some impromptu swimming provided an additional highlight or two! A sparkling Christmas dinner at the Napoleon Inn, and a "competitive" get together with our colleagues from Stepper Point proved equally popular.

During the year we  had 22 volunteers interested in training to become Watchkeeper. Of these  three decided it wasn't for them,  one started and then had to move away, six are currently under training, three are waiting to start and nine are now fully trained Watchkeepers.Which, despite losses due to members moving away or other commitments, means we've managed to slightly increase the number of qualified Watchkeepers.

Our aim is to have every Watchkeeper trained to use the VHF radio and seven members completed their courses successfully last year, bringing the total number of current members who are radio operators up to 31,and more will be attending courses in conjunction with Stepper Point next month.

All told we have over 40 full Watchkeepers on the strength at the moment as well as  seven auxiliaries and  six trainees.

Finally we have just passed our annual Declared Facility Status  assessment which means that we have met the standards expected by HM Coastguard. 

Although we've trained a lot of excellent new members in recent months we always welcome people from the area as Watchkeepers or Fundraisers.

You ‘ll find contact details on the web site.


16th September 2008

More wildlife sightings today than some of us have seen in a month of watches.

It began first thing with a seal spotted to the West of Meachard, closely followed at 09.15 by a pod of dolphinsand then, to cap it all, a large dorsal fin that could only have belonged to a Basking Shark

15th August 2008

You would expect the recent wet weather to keep the walkers away, but the moment the sun comes out they appear from wherever they’ve been sheltering and the cliffs are a riot of coloured waterproofs in every direction.

Visitors to the Lookout this year have come from as far away as Norway and Germany  as well as Australians and Canadians with connections to the county. Those of them  lucky enough to be with us on Thursday 14th August caught sight of a school of dolphins down in Western Blackapit.

Our new locally made  double -glazed wooden windows  have already proved that they can keep out  70 knot winds, as well as the cold and rain. Quite a test for August! In addition our wind instruments are now directly linked into the radar and a new Barometer and Max/Min Thermometer  mean our weather reports are now more accurate than ever.

The social calendar continued with a highly enjoyable Summer Barbecue at Mayrose Farm,where some 40 Watchkeepers, family and friends took grateful advantage of the opportunity to carry on under cover when  things got too much outside. 


30th July 2008

Summer season is upon us, when the sun shines! The farmer has been out making hay on The Stitches. There has been quite a few visitors boats out, as well as our resident ones, and it's good to see the gig out too. A dozen plus dolphins were spotted playing just off the lookout on Sunday.

Refurbishment is going well at the lookout, some internal re-fitting due to start on the 4th August, then it will be overalls and paint brushes on the 31st, inside and out. So the tower will look smart again.

Hope you are enjoying the fine weather when it is here, and don't forget the sea is very powerful and unpredictable, so take care and stay safe.

1st July 2008

Hi folks, well the news is that the new NCI website is now up and running.

The station is in the process of being refurbished after 5 years of operation, new windows "that we are promised wont leak as the old ones do" are made, and will be installed in the next few weeks, the new anemometer is being finally installed, and the flag pole has new brackets and will be re-erected in the next week.

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