Skippers will be able to call ahead and get Coastwatch reports from local lookouts

Boatowners will be able to use their VHF radio to take advantage of National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) lookouts while planning their route this autumn.

From 1 October, the NCI will be broadcasting on VHF Channel 65, offering support to seafaring vessels of all sizes.

This development comes after Ofcom granted a licence to the NCI, following strong support from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

It is anticipated that stations will be able to respond to requests from skippers looking for updates on weather and sea state conditions, as well as local moorings, chartered anchorages, water taxi contacts and local hazards.

The current situation sees many NCI stations operation on Marina Channel 37, but this will come to an end with the launch of the new nationwide licence.

Alan Richards, chairman of the NCI, said: “NCI has long aspired to have the use of a dedicated national marine VHF channel to facilitate radio communications between stations and seafarers.

“This is a major milestone for us, not least as we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the start of our organisation.

“It is indeed a significant and welcome step forward for NCI and is an acknowledgement of our professional capability to communicate effectively with all who use our coastal waters and with our search and rescue partners at both local and national level.”