NCI seeks volunteers to man Calshot Tower

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) has announced that it is to start up a new watchstation, manned by volunteers, at Calshot Tower overlooking the Solent. At 130 feet above sea level and with a 270 degree purview, the Tower has a commanding view of one of the busiest stretches of water in the UK.

NCI Calshot’s primary function will be to provide a visual watch along the main shipping channel down Southampton Water panning across to the Hamble and Portsmouth in the east and over to Cowes and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight together with the more immediate surroundings of Fawley and Calshot itself.

Following extensive negotiations with the Crown Estates, landowners, together with Hampshire County Council, the leaseholder and ABP, the operator of the Tower, NCI is now earnestly seeking volunteers to man this key landmark lookout. An urgent need for fundraising also presents major challenges as, like many similar start-ups, initial costs to date are already running in excess of £3,000 and will increase as the station prepares to become fully operational.

To help get the station started, an initial public meeting is being held at the Waterside Sports & Social Club, 179-181 Long Lane, Holbury, Southampton on Tuesday 26 January starting at 7.00pm when there will be an introduction to NCI. All potential volunteer watchkeepers and NCI supporters are welcome and encouraged to attend. No previous maritime experience is required. The most important asset a potential watchkeeper can bring to NCI is a sharp pair of eyes and an inquisitive nature. Progressive training for this vital work is provided in line with nationally agreed standards and includes an introduction to understanding charts and maps, producing weather reports, keeping a log and learning about marine VHF radio procedure.

Commenting on the launch of Calshot Tower, Jon Gifford, NCI Chairman, said: “With 41 stations now operational in England and Wales and more under negotiation, I am very excited at the prospect of Calshot Tower providing a significant addition to our ability to help protect lives at sea and along such an intensely busy part of our coastal waters.”

PBO published a three-page feature on the NCI in the December 2009 issue.

For further information, visit the NCI website.