The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) has been allocated a national licence by OFCOM for the use of VHF Channel 65, advises the RYA's Southern Region Committee.

This dedicated channel has been granted to NCI with strong support from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Channel 65 will facilitate communications between NCI lookouts and seafarers on a variety of routine matters.

Stations will be able to respond to requests from passing, as well as local sailing craft and fishing vessels for radio checks as well as actual weather and sea state conditions. They will also be able to provide on request information on a range of local facilities including, for example, local moorings, charted anchorages, water taxi contact details and local hazards.

This facility became operational on 1 October 2014 when National Coastwatch stations went live for the first time on Channel 65. The service will replace the practice of some stations currently holding a licence to operate on Marina Channel 37. This will no longer be available.

Richard Brown of the RYA's Southern Region Committee comments "This arrangement will facilitate radio communications between stations and seafarers. Coastwatch will communicate effectively with all who use our coastal waters and with the NCI's Search and Rescue partners at both local and national level".