Why Calshot NCI Exists!

When Watchkeepers saw a sailing dinghy launching into force 6 southwesterly winds on Sunday afternoon (19th March 2017) they immediately rated it as very vulnerable and mounted a continuous watch. Within minutes the dinghy capsized a cable or two northwest of the tower. The two people onboard managed to right the dinghy, only for it to capsize again and again. While the helm swam to the boats bow, the crew became separated from the boat which, on its side was blowing rapidly downwind and away.

This was clearly a very serious situation and the Watchleader immediately phoned HMCG. While the Coast Guard was being informed, a trainee Watchkeeper suggested using the megaphone to try to attract the attention of a rib which was some distance away towards Fawley Power Station. Eventually this action was successful and, in heading towards the capsized dinghy, the rib crew spotted and rescued the isolated crew member from the water, who was brought back to shore.


The rib (left in photo) then proceeded to the casualty which was being blown across the shipping lane. It and another rib, which had responded to a CG “all ships” call on channel 16, stood by the capsized dinghy while the dinghy helm managed to lower its sails and bring it upright. With a Redjet approaching Calshot NCI radioed VTS to warn of the incident which by then was near Reach buoy.

By now the Calshot IRB had been launched and, having quickly arrived on scene, took control of the situation. The casualty was taken in tow and brought it back to Calshot.

After the incident Solent Coastguard phoned Calshot Tower to say that both members of the dinghy crew had survived unharmed and to thank NCI for their help.

A potentially life-threatening situation had come to a satisfactory conclusion and all had happened in not much more than half an hour


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Spring clearout?

One for our boat owning watchkeepers and subscribers.. (and for a very worthwhile local cause too!)

boot sale

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Model Boat Show 25th March

highcliffe_2017_poster_smThe Solent Radio Control Model Boat Club has its sailing waters at Setley Pond, a few miles south of Brockenhurst in the New Forest. This year their annual charity exhibition in Highcliffe will be in aid of NCI Calshot as well as the RNLI.

The model boats range from square-riggers to small dinghies, from Ocean Liners to rowing donkeys (yes I did say that!). Tugs, warships, and fast gunboats are all modelled in superb, authentic detail.

At the exhibition you can view the boats close-up and watch videos of them in action on the pond. Refreshments and an RNLI Gift Stall also will be available.

Entry by charity donation.

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Julian Clegg Breakfast Show


Nice little mention on BBC Radio Solent this morning about listeners favourite views, click the link  below to hear it again

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VHF Channel changes coming in 2017

Boat owners, shipping companies and anyone who puts out to sea are being informed about a change in some of the VHF channel numbers used to contact UK Coastguard.

As a result of changes to Appendix 18 (Marine VHF) of the Radio Regulations it will mean that VHF channels 23, 84 and 86 will no longer be used for either Maritime Safety Information (MSI) or Radio Medical Advice.


The channels to use from September 2017 will be VHF 62, 63 and 64. The use of VHF Channel 10 for MSI and pollution control (back up) is unchanged.

Mark Lawson from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: ‘Although it’s not happening until September, when it happens the changeover will be absolute and we want to make people aware of this changeover in good time given our commitment to deliver maritime safety and wider support to the maritime community.
‘The exact date of change will be announced as soon as possible. In the meantime, we suggest anyone who uses any type of vessel makes a careful note of these replacement channels so they are ready when it does happen.’


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NCI Mundesley by Edgar Ruddock

Recently I visited NCI Mundesley, on the north Norfolk Coast, while visiting family. The station is housed in the old coastguard lookout, a small building erected in the 1920’s, which now houses Mundesley museum (one of the smallest in the country), on the ground floor, and above, up a short very tight spiral staircase, the NCI watch room.

They have some 60 watchkeepers and trainees operating two-hour shifts. The room is very small, but they command a good view both of the cliffs and the beaches, and are close to the open sea facing northeast. They are the second oldest NCI station in the country. They have similar but more compact equipment as we do in Calshot, but with the addition of radar, which today was set at 8 miles, but can scan up to 30 miles.


Haisborough Sands are the principal navigational challenge to coastal shipping, and lie to the south-east of Mundesley, well-buoyed, but still capable of catching out lazy crews. For NCI, much of their work is focussed around keeping a watch on summer visitors, inexperienced water-sports enthusiasts, and cliff-walkers. They report to Humber Coastguard, and work closely with the local RNLI and inshore rescue teams.

In the watchroom, interesting that the chart table dates from 1700, but houses not only the ubiquitous admiralty chart, but also all the contemporary internet, radar and observation technology. A nice contrast!

Good to see a very different station in action, albeit on a very cold and murky day.


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Seasons Greeting from Calshot NCI

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, SAFE New Year

from all at

National Coastwatch Institution Calshot Tower



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From the National Coastwatch HQ Facebook page


Radio User magazine, a radio enthusiasts magazine published by PW Publishing Limited, January 2017 edition carries a superb 3 full page article by Radio Amateur Phil Bridges G6DLJ on National Coastwatch’s Calshot Tower station on Southampton Water, arguably the NCI flagship station. Nicely written and accurate information on NCI and its operation, with some excellent photographs. The magazine is now available from all good newsagents at £3.99 or from the Radio User subscription department on 01442 820580



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Kayaker rescued by HMS Smiter

On Sunday at the Tower we heard a Mayday call from a Kayaker in the water “near Elmore slipway” (which turns out to be the Angling Club at the southeast end of Lee-on-Solent promenade). Given the distance, our visual search was unsuccessful but we monitored the radio traffic as HMS Smiter located the casualty about 1nm SW of the slip. With help from Calshot LB the casualty was transferred by helicopter to Southampton Hospital.  The kayak was recovered by a yacht about 2 cables distant from where the kayaker was found and transferred to Hamble LB.

HMS Smiter is mainly used by the Oxford University Royal Navy Unit. You can read about the rescue on the Royal Navy web site which includes the above video of the helicopter transfer.

[Peter Taylor, 30 Nov 2016]

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Live Exercise with MVS

On the morning of Saturday 29th October, watchkeepers at Calshot took part in a live exercise with members of Christchurch and Bournemouth Maritime Volunteer Service. The MVS launched their 5.2m, 115hp  rib “Osprey” below the tower before taking the role of an untrained, ill equipped crew who were lost. Senior Watchkeeper Roger Taylor and Watchkeepers Stephen Edmonds and Sandy Beard responded to their request for help and were able to plot their position from bearings passed from the boat and give them their bearing from Calshot.  Then the crew played their normal role as rescue boat and were directed to a “casualty” who was clinging to a buoy.

At the conclusion of the exercise, the MVS, took the opportunity to practise their pilotage skills in the Hamble River followed by high speed handling training in Southampton Water – something not really possible in Christchurch Harbour!

Both MVS and NCI teams agreed that it was a very useful and enjoyable experience, with many useful learning points for both sides. The MVS crew, which included one of our own watchkeepers, Chris Lloyd-Smith, noted how accurate the position plotting had been.

More exercises are planned and once again these will not be advertised, so keep your skills honed – it could be you next time!

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