Sunderland VLB Coastwatch Team

    The Coastwatch at Sunderland VLB is affiliated to the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) which is a voluntary organisation set up to keep a visual watch along UK shores. Its purpose is to assist in the protection and preservation of life at sea and around the UK coastline. There are about 40 NCI stations which are manned by over 1700 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles. The Coastwatch is a declared facility for HM Coastguard and the Watchkeepers are trained to NCI standards.

    The Coastwatch was set up in Sunderland in October 2005 . Volunteers are fully trained and provide ‘eyes and ears’ along the coastal area including the harbour, beaches and piers. This visual watch was re-established after many years as, whilst technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, these cannot see things such as a distress flare or an overturned boat. Leisure activities around the harbour are increasing including diving, body boarding, wind surfing and canoeing. These are made safer with a watch over the main areas.The Watchkeepers provide additional safety during events such as the annual Sunderland Air Show.

    The Watchkeepers monitor the weather, shipping and activities and are trained to recognise different types of vessels and to be alert to ships or people in distress reporting any dangers or incidents to HM Coastguard at Humber. This means that any rescues required can be put into place quickly. They can also provide information on the whereabouts of vessels. The significance of this was made clear when a boat was reported to be on fire off the coast. The Sunderland Coastwatchers were able to report that they had actually logged this vessel returning into the river Wear. This meant that a large and expensive sea and air search was avoided.

    As part of its commitment to the involvement and education of young people the Brigade offer training to young people taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in coast watching. The young people cover all the relevant training and learn how to keep watch while being supervised by trained and experienced Coastwatch officers. The Coastwatch will eventually cover 7 days a week once more volunteers are recruited and trained.

    The Coastwatch are currently recruiting, for more information contact: Rose Roberts E-mail: Tel - 0191 5292651



    Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade:::The Watch House, Pier View, Roker, Sunderland. SR6 0PR

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