Because of our lookout’s unique estuary position, we keep watch over all vessels, both motorised and under sail, in addition to kite surfers, windsurfers, jet skiers, fishermen, divers, canoeists, kayakers, paddle boarders, rowers, beach users and swimmers.
Our regime of ‘continuous training’ ensures that watchkeepers are kept up-to-date regarding local water or beach sporting events, and changes in regulations regarding the safety of beach and water users. Watchkeepers work in pairs, manning four hour watches twice a day in the summer, and three hour watches twice a day at weekends in the winter.
A log is kept of all vessel movements and incidents, and additionally of sightings of marine life, dangerous objects and pollution. We are trained to use Marine VHF radios to listen out for routine and emergency incidents on the water – we don’t just look out.
These radios are used to automatically scan the hailing channel (16) and others of relevance, such as Solent Coastguard’s working channel (67).
We also use various optical aids, from fairly low powered hand-held binoculars for general lookout, through stand binoculars for more detailed work, up to a spotter scope capable of 60x magnification.
A plotting table, with a general chart of our area of Lyme Bay from Berry Head around to Straight Point is used, along with a more detailed chart of the Exe Estuary, to plot incidents so that we can keep the Coastguard abreast of developments. Completing our equipment, we have a weather station which feeds into the Web, giving wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, temperature and rainfall.
Our web cam, giving views of the beach and the estuary, is widely used by sailors, rowers, fishermen, other water sports enthusiasts and trippers as a visual aid to the conditions they can expect should they make the journey to the Exmouth seafront.