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Engineers On The Road: National Coastwatch Institute

On Monday, our engineers were called out to assist with patchy radio communications at the National Coastwatch station in Folkestone.

The aim of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is to assist is preserving & protecting life at sea along the coastline of the United Kingdom. Purely a volunteer organisation, they keep a watchful eye along our shores.

Currently, there are 56 operational NCI stations across the UK manned by over 2600 volunteers. Keeping watch over the coastline, volunteers provide eyes and ears along the coast monitoring AIS & VHF radio channels. Trained to deal with emergencies, each volunteer offers a variety of skills and experience.

“Say again? Over.”

The National Coastwatch at Copt Point, Folkestone, is based in a former WW2 command post atop a steep hill. Struggling with communications on their emergency VHF channels, they called us in for assistance.

Many mariners rely on the Coastwatch services for up to date weather, forecasts and sea conditions as well as monitoring for life-threatening situations. If communications are patchy, this could be the difference between life and death.

How We Solved Their Communications Problem

Repairs were attempted by NCI volunteers to no avail. After inspection, our engineers diagnosed the antennas as inefficient.

After taking down the existing fiberglass flagpole, on which the existing antennas were mounted, we replaced two antennas and installed low loss cables. Low loss cables greatly reduce signal being lost between the antennas and the radios.

Communications are back up & running at Copt Point, and mariners can now communicate clearly with volunteers at the station.

NCI needs your help

As we mentioned above, NCI is purely a volunteer organisation. All watchkeepeers are a vital part of the national search and rescue organisation as well as a vital link to the HM coastguard. With over 500 incidents already this year, it’s safe to say NCI have been instrumental in saving lives at sea.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering for the NCI, or if you’d like to donate to support their cause, click here to learn more.

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