Keeping Active: Volunteering At The NCI

Homeowner Roland Rudderham tells us how he keeps an active lifestyle during retirement by volunteering for the NCI

When I moved from Hampshire to a McCarthy Stone property San Lorenzo Court, St Ives in 2014, I decided that I would seek out activities that would keep me active both physically and mentally during my retirement.

While reading the local paper I saw an advert for the voluntary NCI (National Coastwatch Institute - a registered charity) which caught my eye. As I had spent most of my life working in the marine industry, the position appealed to me and soon after, an interview followed and before I knew it I was starting as a trainee watchkeeper.

During my training I learned how to operate the log book,VHF radio, AIS, radar, weather instrumentation and charts. I then had a series of tests and exams before I became a fully qualified watchkeeper!

Looking out at sea at the NCI

The motto of the NCI is “Eyes Along The Coast” and our mission is to assist in the protection of life at sea and along the coast. This means we work closely with the Marine and Coastguard Agency, RNLI, lifeguards and Boarder Control Agency and the job involves keeping watch on fishing boats, day trip boats, leisure craft, paddle and sailboards, bathers, surfers, divers, walkers, climbers, hang gliders and light aircraft.

At present the St Ives NCI is trying to raise £10,000 to mount CCTV on the entrance to Hayle harbour as the entrance is 2 miles from the station. The entrance is a dangerous area with a sand bar that constantly moves, making it difficult to navigate into the harbour and causing large waves. (If you'd like to find out more about this cause, email [email protected])

The NCI was formed in 1994 after the government closed all small coastguard stations and consequently two fishermen from a small boat drowned below an empty coastguard station at Bass Point in Cornwall. As a result, there are now 43 operational stations throughout the UK.

To become a watchkeeper you need not have any experience as full training is given, just as long as you can spare at least four hours a week!

Our NCI Volunteer keeping an eye on the seas

I also keep fit by volunteering as a steward for St Ives September Festival as well as belonging to various Cornwall meet.com groups that do rambling meets in restaurants, pubs, beach parties, and many other events. With these activities I hope they will keep me fit physically and mentally.