Portland Coffee Morning

By: Pam Peters
Photographs Courtesy of: Chris Lock

The tombola in the very safe hands of Bob Ward and Carole Norrie

Take one very wet, dark, miserable November Saturday morning on Portland add to that at least two other events taking place on the island now add the main ingredient, a superb team of Coastwatch Watchkeepers all working together and what do you get?
You’re right, yet another successful Coffee Morning at Easton Methodist Church Hall!

Together we managed to raise an astonishing £503.11!

I’m sure you’ll agree this amount was something to be proud of, given the adverse weather conditions. It has to be a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped both on the day and by making cakes to sell. Thanks also have to go to Kim & Paul for donating the crab sandwiches & lobster wraps which boosted our takings quite considerably!



Well done & thank you to everyone.


2018 Portland Remembrance Day Service
By Pam Peters

Some of the NCI-Portland Coastwatch team at the Cenotaph

The Team from Coastwatch, Portland Bill turned out in force for the Remembrance Day Service held at The Cenotaph, The Heights, Portland. Each year the number in the congregation seems to increase and this year’s special service, to commemorate 100 years of WW1 ending, surely had to see a record number of people attending. The service was preceded by a walk/march from The Drill Hall, Easton Lane, again the amount of people taking part far exceeded past years.

The service was conducted by Reverend Tim Gomm, the Rector of Portland & Reverend James Menzies, Team Vicar of Portland who were supported by the new Easton Methodist Minister, Reverend Peter Bezier. Weymouth Concert Brass, conducted by Philip George provided the music accompaniment.

The Coastwatch wreath was this year laid by Ron Brooks, Events Co-ordinator, from the Portland Bill Station.

Sadly it was the last year that the Parade Commander S/M Charles H. Thompson will be keeping us all in order as he has decided to retire. He will be greatly missed.

With the worst possible forecast for the morning of heavy showers and winds of 45 knots, we were so lucky to have just one very small shower which enabled all the wreaths to be laid in almost perfect weather conditions.

The Coastwatch wreath was this year laid by Ron Brooks, Events Co-ordinator, from the Portland Bill Station.


Major Safety Repairs to NCI Portland Bill Mast Completed

By: Len Heath

Following its biannual inspection the mast manufacturer’s inspection team recommended immediate repairs to the mast structure, due to the effects of age and last winters weather conditions.

25M cherry picker at full stretch with 2 engineers onboard

The manufacturer’s inspection report highlighted that the gaff pin has worn through so the work necessary was to remove what was left of the old filler, take out the pin and lift the gaff off. Re-bond the pin and replace the gaff and any filler where necessary and re-paint as required.

To enable these works to be carried out it was necessary to hire an 25m truck mounted platform to reach the top of the pole and in the photographs above can be seen the NCI  Portland Bill technical team reinstalling the weather station sensors, our thanks to these brave stalwarts’.


NCI Portland Team Learn the Secrets of the Weymouth and Portland Fire & Rescue Service at Weymouth Community Safety Centre

By: Peter Why

Portland NCI hold their monthly watch-keepers meeting at the Weymouth and Portland Community Safety Centre on Radipole Lane otherwise known to the watch-keepers as The Weymouth Fire Station.

Fire Officers and NCI Members in the Engine Hall

At the end of each meeting a guest speaker is invited to talk to the group and at January’s meeting, Area Manager Seth Why spoke about the combination of the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Services, which included an overview on the number of stations and the varied vehicles that provide cover for the area, types of incidents attended including technical rescue capabilities and how the brigade operates with the Coastguard and other emergency services during multi agency incidents. Mr Why also explained how the Fire Service works proactively to target vulnerable communities and keep them safe from fire.

After the talk, Watch Manager Dave Allen gave the watch-keepers an introduction to the Weymouth Safewise Centre, giving a practical demonstration on the dangers of using water on fat deep fryer fires and advice on the steps to follow if a fire is discovered. The Portland watch then witnessed Weymouth On Call Fire Fighters give a professional display with ladders and hose at a high risk exercise which was then followed by a detailed talk on the different types of fire service vehicles based at Weymouth fire station and their particular uses.


Weymouth Family Church visits NCI Portland Bill

By Fredrick Daborn
Photographs courtesy of Andrew Knoles

Watch Leader Mike Davis Explains AIS to a Member of Weymouth Family Church

Fredrick Daborn with WFC Members in the Training Room

A group from Weymouth Family Church requested a visit to the NCI Station at Portland Bill. Seven people were welcomed on Saturday afternoon with tea/coffee and biscuits in the training room and then given a talk by one of the watchkeepers, Frederick Daborn, who is also from WFC. The talk was interactive with many questions asked throughout. There was also a video to watch and whilst half the group spent time in the watchroom, the rest watched the video, courtesy of Roger Sutherland another NCI PB watchkeeper.

In the watchroom the group were warmly welcomed by watchleader Mike Davis and his team, who explained the functions of the watchroom and its strategic position overlooking the Portland Race and Shambles sand bank. All were invited to use binoculars and take a closer look at the equipment in use. There were many conversations between watchkeepers and visitors who all showed a keen interest in what went on at the watchstation on a daily basis. The two groups changed over so all had the opportunity to see both watchroom and video.

A Member of the WFC gets a close up view of the Portland Race.


After nearly two hours the visitors left the station with many encouraging words of appreciation for the visit. This gave them a greater insight into the work of National Coastwatch Institution at Portland Bill, as they look out for the safety of all who use the sea either for work or leisure and those who walk, ride or climb around the Island.


150 years of watching over the Portland Race

Following the NCI Portland Bill AGM on Thursday 16th November 2017 station manager Geoff Peters announced the good news. This year he was able to present service awards to 11 watchkeepers that have between them been watched over the Portland Race and its environs for a total of 150 years, although not 24hours a day 7 days a week

The 7 watchkeepers receiving their service awards with Station Manager Geoff Peters

The 7 service awards recipients at the AGM were:

20 years        Mac Scard, Barry Gasson

15 years         Carole Norrie

10 years         Mike Davis, David Morris, Tom Binding, Michael Gregory

In addition the 4 award recipients  who were unable to attend the presentation were:

20 years         Mike Burgoyne

15 years          Les Sullivan

10 years          John Lewis, Roger Sutherland

Thank you all for your service and we look forward to future presentations.


Lest We Forget
By: Pam Peters

A group of around 20 Watchkeepers from NCI Coastwatch, Portland Bill attended the Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph, The Heights, Portland where Station Manager, Geoff Peters, laid a wreath on behalf of the Team.

Station Manager Geoff Peters laying the NCI Portland station.

The service was conducted by Rev Tim Gomm, Team Rector of Portland, President of the Royal British Legion on Portland, Rev James Menzies, Team Vicar of Portland & Mr David Farmer, Lay Pastor of Portland Methodist Church. The congregation’s hymns were led by The Weymouth Concert Brass.

With excellent weather the turnout this year was exceptional.

Each year the number attending the service at Portland increases and once again the weather was good, cold and very windy but luckily no rain.

Photographs Courtesy of Roger Sutherland


“GOODBYE AND THANK YOU” Ceremony for the Staff and Crews Of Portland Search and Rescue Helicopter

By: Len Heath and Frederick Daborn

Friday 30th June 2017 was the last day of operation of the Portland SAR helicopter and in recognition of all the crews had done the Mayor of Portland and Portland Town Council organised a thank you ceremony which was held at the Search and Rescue Helicopter Base, Osprey Quay Portland.

The SAR team and dignitaries in front of helicopter “Whiskey Bravo” (106) before the presentation.

The ceremony was introduced by the Portland Town Crier and the formal welcome was given by the Town Mayor of Portland, Councillor David Thurston, Following a short address by Richard Drax MP certificates were presented to the staff of the station in recognition of their hard work and devotion to duty over the years of operation by the High Sheriff of Dorset Mr John Young MC JP DL. In addition to the framed certificates each of the staff member received a bottle of Champaign  kindly donated by the Manager of Tesco’s Store Portland.

Following the presentation ceremony the guests adjourned to the Marina Wall for the unveiling of a commemorative stone engraved with the names of all flight crews who had flown from Portland Base during its SAR days. The Stone was donated and carved by the staff of the Portland quarries and was unveiled by the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset Mr Angus Campbell.

After the unveiling the guests proceeded to “The Boat That Rocks” for refreshments, the guests included Sir Alan Massey KCB CBE Chief Executive of the MCA, local mayors and partners and representatives from local SAR support organisations.


NCI Portland Bill Gives Support to the Coastguard and Identifies Yacht in Distress

On Sunday 14th Mach 2017 the NCI Portland Bill watchkeepers recorded a yacht passing Portland Bill, they later noticed it with engine failure 1 nautical mile and on a bearing of 300 degrees from the lookout, eventually drifting with anchor down to a bearing of 345 degrees from the lookout before the lifeboat arrived.

Weymouth AWL 17-32 approaching Portland Bill on route to the yacht.

 Watch leader Tony Marshall said “We were aware that there was a possible problem with this yacht some time before she radioed a “Pan Pan” distress call to SCG and we were keeping her under close observation”.

SCG telephoned us to ask if we had a visual and for vessel details, we gave full details and offered assistance to the RNLI in conning the lifeboat to the casualty if required. We heard nothing further from SCG

Yacht under tow from AWL 17-32

 Photographs by Tony Marshall


A visit to Portland Bill Lookout by The High Sheriff of Dorset, Sir Philip Williams.

By Geoff Peters 31/01/17

Sir Philip Williams receives instruction on the use of the radar from Deputy Station Manager Michael Gregory.

We were very honoured and privileged to entertain Sir Philip at the Lookout on Tuesday 31st January. Not only was he very impressed with our work and dedication and really fascinated with our equipment, Sir Philip could not believe we were totally self funded, which means we have to do all our own fundraising.

Sir Philip was greeted by Station Manager, Geoff Peters, the visit began with a visit to the Watchroom where duty Watchkeepers, Michael Gregory & Paul Clarke together with Roger Harrington, explained and demonstrated the technicalities of the high tech equipment. Sir Philip was then entertained in The Training Centre by other Watchkeepers Len Heath, Stan Zapiec, Trefor Morgan & Roger Sutherland who also showed a short DVD, documenting some of the highlights of Portland Bill’s 20 year history, an anniversary which will be celebrated later this year. The event was completed with tea and chocolate mini rolls provided by Pam Peters and Ellen Zapiec.

Sir Philip in The Training Centre with Station Manager Geoff Peters and surrounded by Watchkeepers Roger Sutherland. Roger Harrington, Stan Zapiec, Len Heath & Trefor Morgan

Thankfully the fog lifted sufficiently as Sir Philip arrived to enable some vision of the Lighthouse, which had previously been completely shrouded in fog. Sir Philip has promised a return visit when hopefully the weather will show the area around the Lookout in all its true glory.






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