Interested in becoming a watchkeepeer?

Here are the main things you need to know:

1.   We watch the Bay seven days a week, every day of the year. A watch typically lasts for two or three hours.  And we like to have two people on each watch.

2.   Once you’re up to speed, we’ll expect you to do on average at least two watches each month.  Many of our watchkeepers like to do more.

3.   No previous experience is necessary, just enthusiasm.  We’ll train you on everything you need to know.

4.  We’ll cover all the essential skills that you’ll need to be a watchkeeper in a series of short classes.  Once you’ve done that you’ll get ‘hands-on’ experience by taking part in watches, supported and coached by one of our trainers..

5.   You’ll also get trained and licensed to use a short-range VHF radio – unless you already hold a licence.

Find a lot more details on what the training includes further down this page.

Watchkeepers on lookout

Still curious?

Why don’t you pop along to our watchtower during opening hours and have a chat with our watchkeepers.  They’ll be happy to talk about what’s involved and show you the gizmos we have to help us.

If you have any other questions, please email us and our Membership Secretary will get back to you.

If you wish to join us, please fill in and return this Membership Application Form.

Once you have arranged to come along to a watch, that first session is very much a ‘taster’, for you to decide if watchkeeping is for you.

Watchkeeper on lookout

The training – more details

Here’s some of the things you’ll learn. They’re all in our training manual, and you’ll get a copy of that:

1.   Opening up and closing down the watchtower and visitors’ centre. Turning on the various instruments, logging on and off with the Solent Coastguard, making our opening and closing radio broadcasts.
2.   Maintaining the watch Logbook.
a.  Recording the temperature, wind speed and direction, and barometer readings from the Davis weather station.
b.  Recording any vessels that maybe anchored in the Bay, together with other vessels or persons who you think are vulnerable. That could include canoeists, swimmers, windsurfers and single-handed vessels. In addition, logging anything of interest or concern on the coastline or beaches of the Bay, such as climbers and children in inflatables.
c.  Recording any incidents that occur.
3.  Using your eyes, as well as the other optical equipment that’s available – binoculars, telescopes, radar, CCTV and the Automatic Identification Scheme (AIS). 4.  What to do if emergencies occur at sea and on land.

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Watchkeeper doing some chart work

5.   Chartwork:

a.  Plotting a distance and bearing.
b.  Plotting a Latitude and Longitude.
6.   Recognising local landmarks in the Bay and learning the various risks associated with them.
7.   Recognising the flags and day markers displayed by vessels.
8.   Using the radio – the phonetic alphabet, when you may transmit on VHF Channel 65 (the designated NCI channel), VHF Channel 16 (the emergency and call up channel), and VHF Channel 00 (the Search and Rescue Services channel).
Although we’ll cover the basics of using a radio in our training, to use the radios in our Station you’ll need to hold a VHF radio licence.
If you don’t already have one, we’ll arrange for you to study and take the Royal Yachting Association – Short Range Certificate (RYA SRC).
This will take place during the latter stages of your NCI training or just after you’ve completed it.
When you feel that you’re confident to be able to run a watch, one of our senior trainers will carry out an assessment. You’ll then be awarded your epaulettes and, if you haven’t already done it, you’ll need to buy your own uniform.

Once you’ve qualified, we’ll still be around to help you gain further experience and offer any support you might want. Our attitude is that we’re all learning new things all of the time, so never be afraid to ask any of us a question if one comes up. 

Still interested? If you want to join us, please fill in and return this 
Membership Application Form. Or email us and our Training Officer will get back to you.