The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is a charity and a voluntary organisation set up to maintain a visual watch along the shores of England and Wales.


In 1994 when two fishermen lost their lives off the Cornish coast below a recently closed Coastguard lookout, local people decided to open and restore the visual watch. When the first Station was opened at Bass Point on the Lizard, NCI was born.


Today over 55 stations keep a visual watch around the coastline of England and Wales, with more to be commissioned. NCI stations operate along the coast from Rossall Point in the North West, around Wales, along the Cornwall and Devon coasts, Southern and Eastern England to Sunderland in the North East. Each station has a dedicated team of volunteers to watch over its own particular area whether it is a popular seaside town, busy port or shipping area.


Watchkeepers are the eyes and ears along our coast, keeping a visual watch and monitoring VHF radio channels. NCI Volunteers are trained to respond to emergency incidents and, if required, co-ordinate with the Search & Rescue Services.


In Exmouth, many years ago the Harbour View Cafe was the home of the Exmouth Yacht and/or Sailing Club. Prior to this it housed Exmouth’s salt water baths. In Victorian times Exmouth was a fashionable seaside town and visitors enjoyed its saline bath facility and other services such as thermal baths. Afterwards they would enjoy the refreshments at the Bath House Cafe.


In 1998 the Lookout above the Harbour View Cafe began a new lease of life, becoming the look-out station for the Exmouth branch of NCI, with over 60 volunteer watchkeepers.