Eyes Along The Coast Watchkeeper Positions | The NCI

Eyes Along The Coast Watchkeeper Positions | The NCI

The work of the NCI


NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. When people get into trouble, we are there to alert HM Coastguard and direct the appropriate rescue services to the casualty.

Today 57 stations keep a visual watch around the coastline of England and Wales, with more in the pipeline.

Technology and sophisticated systems such as radar and telecommunications have vastly improved safety at sea, but there is no substitute for a watchful pair of eyes. Accidents do happen and a computer or technology cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat, a yacht with problems, a water sports enthusiast in difficulty, or children or adults in trouble, or possible pollution incidents. That is why our lookouts and watchkeepers are an important service provider to all those who use our coastal waters, footpaths and coastline.

Where are we?


Southend station consists of two white and blue portacabin-type buildings stacked one above the other and is located at the North Eastern end of Shoebury East Beach, just inside the boundary of the MOD site and, as such, is clearly visible from the beach area; obviously, we also have a very clear view of the beach and all marine activities.

Presently we have 22 watchkeepers but are always looking for more. We keep watches on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays at present. Winter times are 0900 to 1300 then 1300 to 1700, which are acceptable when there are not so many people about. ln the summer months, July and August, we extend the hours to 1800, again in two watches, but each of 4½ hours. This has worked well for the last few years and will continue in the future.

We should like to open on more days, but with the numbers, we have that is not really practicable.

If you think that you would like to become a watchkeeper at Southend NCI and give some of your time to helping the local sailors and beach users, then please contact us.

You will find details of how to do this on the website.

NCI is an interesting and rewarding organisation where you will meet people from all walks of life, who not only give of their time to watch over the safety of others but in many cases have an interesting story to tell about their own lives.

Come and join us, you’ll enjoy it.

Jamie Langstone