Froward Point NCI Watchkeepers Tim Trent and Ian Nuttall proved their worth on the evening of Tuesday 15th August when just after 6.15 pm, a 27 ft. yacht with engine failure needed help. Liaising with Falmouth Coastguard, the Watchkeepers were able to confirm that the first two positions provided by the casualty were inaccurate as no vessel could be seen at or close to those locations. The casualty attempted to contact Dart Harbour on Channel 11 for a tow but was unable to hear their reply.
Dart ILB was on exercise and tasked by Falmouth CG to provide assistance – but unsurprisingly, the crew could not find the yacht at the reported position. Eventually, a third less inaccurate position provided by the yachtsman enabled the vessel to be spotted by the watchkeepers and from their vantage point they quickly guided Dart ILB to the target. The vessel was taken safely in tow to Dartmouth Yacht Club pontoon.
The whole event lasted over two hours and the watchkeepers eventually left at sunset, well past the normal time. It had been a long session for both them and the Dart ILB crew but one with a satisfactory result.
The Friends of Froward have raised a magnificent £654 toward the funds of the Coastwatch station at Froward point near Kingswear. Based at the Tea Hut in Royal Avenue Gardens in Dartmouth on a breezy but sunny July day, the Coastwatch supporters sold light refreshments and homemade cakes as well as running a bric-a-brac stall and selling tickets for their July raffle. The money raised will allow the Coastwatch station to install much-needed improved flooring in the lookout later this year.
Over £2000 is to be shared between South Devon’s Rowcroft Hospice and the Coastwatch station at Froward Point near Kingswear thanks to the sterling efforts of Debbie Beechey and her staff at Two Mile Oak Inn near Abbotskerswell. The cash has been raised over the 12 months up to May 2017 by hosting book and CD sales, collection boxes and the very successful Christmas prize draw. Each charity received £1050, slightly more than was raised but Two Mile Oak generously rounded it up.
Froward Point station needs an average £12,000 annually to provide its “Eyes along the Coast” service for mariners and walkers. Both charities will be there when needed thanks to community donations like Two Mile Oak’s.
The money raised is in addition to Two Mile Oak’s efforts at the beginning of the year to support popular former member of staff, Chris Tester, who lost his sight when shot during a robbery in Antigua before last Christmas.
NCI Froward Point is clear to operate for another year after a successful reassessment of their Declared Facility Status (DFS) involving both morning and afternoon watches on Palm Sunday 2017. Retaining their DFS ensures that Froward Point NCI remains an integral part of the UK Search and Rescue Service which includes HM Coastguard and the RNLI.
The reassessment was carried out by Rod Skinner, an experienced Watchkeeper from Padstow’s Stepper Point NCI. Thanks to the ready cooperation of Dart RNLI and Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority (DHNA) part of the assessment of the morning watch included a rescue of a simulated “man overboard” casualty dropped by DHNA beyond the Homestone Buoy with the Watchkeepers using the dedicated NCI VHF Channel 65 to con the lifeboat to the casualty’s position. Exercises such as this foster good relations between Froward Point NCI, Dart RNLI, DHNA and HM Coastguard Solent and provides the NCI Watchkeepers with useful experience of incidents.
Pictured l to r: Watchkeepers John Firmin using VHF Channel 65, Ian Nuttall monitoring “man overboard” and Assessor Rod Skinner.
On 21 January 2017, Dr Sarah Wollaston, M.P. for Totnes, took time off from her busy parliamentary schedule to open the updated Visitor Centre at the Froward Point National Coastwatch Station. This was a notable moment for the Station as it marked the end of yet another phase of upgrades to the former WW2 shore battery lookout since it opened in 2005.
The isolated Station lacks mains electricity so the Visitor Centre displays are static printed acrylic panels explaining the local flora and fauna, Start Bay shipwrecks, local walks as well as the role of the “Eyes Along the Coast” volunteers and Search and Rescue services.
Sarah Wollaston also viewed the new panoramic Station windows provided by Southfield Windows of Totnes, new radar equipment, new monocular scope and defibrillator. All these developments have only been possible thanks to the enormous generosity of the general public, sponsors and the willing co-operation of the National Trust – without which the organisation would not exist.
Sarah has been a consistent supporter of Froward Point and expressed a big “Thank You” to the sixty or so volunteers who faithfully maintain the service 365 days a year.
Thanks to generous sponsorship from Valeport Ltd. of Totnes a fully automatic defibrillator has been provided at the Froward Point National Coastwatch station near Kingswear. The sponsorship allowed Coastwatch volunteers to produce a 2016 calendar and £1,250 of the proceeds has been used to buy a Powerheart G5 Fully Automated External Defibrillator.
Froward Point is an isolated area a mile from the nearest road. The adjacent South West Coast Path can be challenging for unwary visitors and the Coastwatch station has previously helped walkers in difficulties. At the suggestion of watchkeepers a project team was set up by Froward Point to consider how the care of walkers could be improved. Expert advice was sought from Justin Sharples of the South Western Ambulance Service Trust, who gave freely of his time, and the defibrillator is now available while the station is open.
Valeport Ltd. is a manufacturer of hydrographic, hydrometric and oceanographic equipment. Company Chairman, Charles Quartley, regularly sails out of the Dart and his yacht “Impi” is a familiar sight to the watchkeepers. Valeport has also provided sponsorship for the 2017 calendar which is now available for sale.
Pictured – top: Charles Quartley presents the defibrillator to Stuart Rostron, Station Manager, NCI Froward Point – above: As installed in the watchstation with self inflating mat and first aid kit.
Two NCI Froward Point watchkeepers, Austin Guy and Tony James, received an unexpected visit from NCI President Jon Gifford and Station Manager in January. Unbeknownst to them they had both completed 500 watches, the first to do so in Froward Point’s 10 year existence. Presenting both with framed copies of noted local artist Paul Barclay’s picture of the watchstation, Jon Gifford acknowledged their commitment in carrying out such a consistent number of watches over so long a period.
Froward Point NCI participated in a rescue exercise on the morning of Sunday 4th June. Organised in conjunction with Dart Sailability and Dart RNLI, the exercise was intended to explore the potential problems of an emergency involving people with disabilities at sea. The Sailability vessel, Farries Flyer, simulated a man overboard in the mouth of the Dart near Castle Ledge, using a “Dead Fred” dummy, and after moving about 80 yards provided another “man” overboard. Simultaneously an engine failure was simulated. Thanks to the tides and a wind of up to force 5, the two “men” overboard ended up drifting west to within a few yards of each other whereas the Farries Flyer drifted considerably to the east. After being conned to the “men overboard” by Froward Point NCI watchkeepers, Alan Barrett and Steve Westcott, the lifeboat recovered the casualties and returned to take the Farries Flyer in tow. All agreed it was a very useful exercise where many lessons have been learned.
The Since joining Froward Point NCI in 2005 Peter Roberts has reached the magic total of 500 watches, only the third Froward Point watchkeeper to do so. In May 2017 Station Manager Stuart Rostron presented Peter with a framed Paul Barclay print depicting the NCI Watchstation. At the same time Watchkeepers Keith Dodd and Ron Kirby received their 5-year service certificates and badges.
Easter Saturday afternoon saw an impressive fundraising effort at Dartmouth’s Café Alf Resco for the Coastwatch station at Froward Point near Kingswear. Extending normal trading by opening in the afternoon Kate Ryder, owner of Café Alf Resco, and her wonderful staff sold drinks, cream teas, cakes and biscuits to raise the magnificent total of £680, helped by the Friends of Froward’s raffle of Easter goodies including hand-knitted chicks and a large quantity of Easter Eggs generously supplied by the Dartmouth Sainsburys store. Not least of the contributions to the total was the kind donation by the staff of the gratuities they had received – an especially touching gesture much appreciated by the Coastwatch volunteers.
Station Manager Stuart Rostron said “Our grateful thanks are due to Kate and her staff. This is the third time that they have offered us the premises and staff entirely free of charge. All the Coastwatch funds come from the general public and the consistent help Kate and Café Alf Fresco offers is so important to us. To be able to count on such regular support gives us confidence for the future”.
At the beginning of February 2017 Froward Point welcomed Capt. Mark Cooper, the new Dart Harbour Master. Mark was keen to see how we operate and our capabilities. It was an interesting and mutually beneficial visit with Froward Point NCI agreeing to pass advance warning to the Harbour Office of unusual arrivals such as vessels under tow and fishing vessels not normally berthed in the Dart. This early notification allows the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority to greet these vessels and direct them to a suitable berth.
In return Capt. Cooper granted a free half page advertisement in the 2017 Dart Harbour Guide distributed to more than 3,000 boat owners. The advertisement is aimed to increase awareness of the Channel 65 radio check and local weather service available from Froward Point NCI.
In September 2016 the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company sailed the iconic paddle steamer Kingswear Castle for a two-hour evening picnic cruise to Froward Point and then back up the Dart before returning to Kingswear. Over 130 passengers enjoyed a warm evening and glorious sunset while entertained with sea shanties sung by the Nauti Boys. Thanks to the generosity of the Company £1340 was raised towards the £11,000 annual running costs of NCI Froward Point.
Moreton and Fyfield Scouts from Essex made a pre-arranged visit to Froward Point on a balmy August Sunday morning. Ten scouts and 2 leaders visited the lookout in groups to see the watchkeepers in action. Our visitors seemed to enjoy themselves and provided a barrage of questions to tax the watchkeepers’ knowledge.
NCI Froward Point recently had the pleasure of welcoming members of the Hallberg Rassey Owners Association. 24 yachts of the HROA assembled for a 3-day visit to Dartmouth. After walking from Kingswear to the former home of D'oyly Carte, Coleton Fishacre, they returned on the Southwest Coast Path via Froward Point. Extra Watchkeepers attended so normal duties continued while the HROA members visited the lookout in groups. In appreciation of the arrangements that had been made the visitors generously presented a donation of £160 to Station Manager Stuart Rostron.
On 20 May 2016 an article in the Dartmouth Chronicle covered the Orpheus Male Voice Choir's performance in the Kingswear Parish Church which raised £485 for NCI at Froward Point. To see the full article, click more.
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