Information for Boatwatch and Water-watchers 2021 v.1.Mar21

Current supplementary advice on Covid 19 related arrangements

(Updated general guidance notes follow after this note):

KEBC Boatwatch Covid 19 restriction arrangements from 29 March 2021

We agreed with the local area Police team Sergeant and the Harbour Master for the 2020 season that provided we adhere to the national and any local Covid restrictions they would be happy for us to continue with Boatwatch. They welcome our continued additional monitoring of the Estuary for 2021.

We should of course ensure we follow the Government restrictions in force currently as the national lockdown is progressively lifted. Social distancing seems likely to be required for some while to come even as larger group meetings become possible.

As from 29th March 2021 for Boatwatch duty we should therefore keep two pieces of current Pandemic guidance particularly in mind:

– Those doing a duty outing in pairs on foot must observe social distancing and should not share a car to get around the area unless they are from the same household or bubble.

– Only members from the same household or family/friendship bubble can share a boat if doing Boatwatch by water, unless the boat is big enough to allow 2 metres distancing.

Also, any Boatwatchers who have been advised to isolate or safeguard on medical grounds should not feel under any obligation to participate. They should make their own decision on whether and how to be involved based on the latest guidance issued to them.

The Police have asked specifically that we keep an eye open for any suspicious boat movements or heavily loaded boats unloading people or goods. The lockdowns have apparently triggered an increase in drug and people trafficking. Quieter local ports and water access points are often targeted by such criminals. We should ring the Police if we see anything like this happening. See Project Kraken note below.

Enjoy yourselves and stay safe and alert!

KEBC Boatwatch Coordinator. 26.3.21

Kingsbridge Estuary Boat Club Boatwatch guidance 2021

1. The basic Boatwatch role

The Harbour Master and his staff are keen to work with us because they recognise the value of the local knowledge our members have; and the extra pairs of eyes looking around! We look forward to helping them monitor the Kingsbridge end of the estuary.

The locations we visit at our end of the Estuary, to cover the majority of moored boats or those on the foreshore, are Bowcombe Quay, Embankment Road Pumping station slipway, Kingsbridge Town Pontoon and basin and, if time and weather permit, the Frogmore village end of Frogmore Creek.

We can choose whether to do the round on foot (with or without dog), by car, bicycle or boat.

We should always wear a Boatwatch high-vis vest so it is clear who we are and what we are up to.

2. Expectations of Boatwatchers and personal safety on Boatwatch duty

As we are unpaid volunteers we are not expected to take responsibility for anything more than the observation and reporting described below, and our first priority must always be to keep ourselves, and those we are on duty with, safe.

There are some limited occasions where we may take practical action described below, but here as well the overriding criterion to follow must be personal safety. A boat is an inanimate chunk of plastic or wood, should be insured by its owner, and is replaceable. People are not.

In the unlikely event that any of us become involved in an emergency situation where there is a risk of injury to ourselves or a third party, individual boatwatchers should make a judgement about whether to become directly involved based on their personal knowledge and capability. But we should call the emergency services immediately even if we feel we must hold the fort until professional help arrives.

The Club holds public liability insurance and a special cover similar to employer’s liability insurance. These two cover, amongst other things, Club members whilst doing Boatwatch duty, both should we cause damage to a third party or should something happen to us. However, we must operate within the guidance in these notes to be sure we are covered. Please remember that only Boatclub members, including family members included in the membership registration, are insured, and we must wear Boatwatch high-vis vests whilst on duty.

The Club encourages Boatwatchers to work in pairs wherever possible. This is more sociable and safer, especially in bad weather or after dark. As when boating, we should ensure someone else knows where we are and when we intend to be back home, especially if we do go out on duty alone. This is mostly to ensure we stay physically safe, but also because of the possible (but very rare) eventuality that we meet somebody who wants to confront someone in a high-vis vest.

3. Boatwatch monitoring tasks and reporting process

A. Tasks
There are two security related aspects to Boatwatch outings, the first and most obvious being watching out for any evidence of illegal or dangerous activity on or around boats, either on the water or on the foreshore, and reporting it appropriately. Whilst important, this is relatively rare, not least because the Harbour Authority’s professional security staff run a planned confidential monitoring schedule in liaison with the Police. Our role is largely to provide a visible, high-vis vest, presence to augment the deterrent effect of the professionals.

The second and more common aspect is monitoring and reporting the physical security of boats and associated kit. Especially in bad weather we often find boats and tenders not securely tied up on pontoons and on the foreshore, and also craft that are not self bailing becoming waterlogged after heavy rain. Boatwatchers may choose to re-tie such craft if this seems a straightforward task. In exceptional circumstances, if a boat is about to sink, we may partially bail out a waterlogged boat. We may also notice unsecured valuable kit left in open view on boats.

REMEMBER: Boats are their owners’ responsibility not ours, take no unnecessary risks.

The Harbour Office staff can identify the boat owner from the boat name and Harbour Licence number, or the berth number or mooring position if these are not visible. They also keep a local contact name on file for owners who live away from the area. We should give them the identification data and they will contact the owner or their representative by email or phone and ask them sort out the problem.

Occasionally we might see safety related incidents like speeding boats and should report these, by phone or by emailing a photo or video, during office hours in case Harbour staff can track and intercept them.

B. Reporting
We should report anything apparently criminal or a risk to public safety to the Police using the appropriate contact number below. Anything else of note should be referred to the Harbour Office using the appropriate method via the contact numbers below.

Now most of us have a smart phone, wherever possible we should email a photo of the boat (or other item), ideally showing the boat name and its Harbour Licence sticker.

We are trialing a WhatsApp instant messaging group of Boatwatch Team Leaders and Couples Teams this season. The group includes our Harbour Office contacts and the Club Boatwatch coordinator to streamline communications between all parties, and we hope avoid multiple reporting of the same issues. If other team member Boatwatchers copy their Harbour Office reports to their team leader, we can reduce the need to duplicate reports to the minimum. Teams may decide to set up a team WhatsApp group which could ease things further. It would be very helpful if Team Leaders and Couples Teams could send a brief handover WhatsApp message at the end of each week’s duty, even if only ‘nothing to report’. 

We’ll see how it goes!

4. Contact details of relevant authorities

A. Public contact numbers for reporting suspected criminal activity to the Police:

  1. For a crime being committed — 999 (or 112)
  2. For a crime that has been committed previously — 101
  3. If you have a photo of a previous incident, use the Local PolicingTeam email contact: then go to ‘find/contact your local team’ on the front page, then click on the email button to send your message.
  4. For passing on important information anonymously: Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
  5. “Project Kraken” type activity – possible evidence of security, drug and people trafficking issues etc. SEE THE POLICE BRIEFING NOTE AT NOTE 4 BELOW.

B. For other concerns see the following Harbour Office contact details, and the supporting notes at section 5 below:

  1. For reporting boats / equipment condition causing immediate concern, or cases of boats speeding within the harbour — Harbour Office 01548 – 843791. Out of office hours – 01803 867034.
  2. If an immediate response is needed during the busy summer period, from June to September, when the Harbour Office have more staff on duty for more hours per day, i.e. observing poor behaviour on the water, between 07.30 – 23.00 it can be quicker to contact the Water Taxi on VHF Channel 12 or 07807 643879 and ask them to pass the information on to the relevant Harbour Office duty boatman.
  3. For the bulk of boat condition, mooring or slipway issues where there is no urgency an email or WhatsApp message is advised can be included. The email address is:, or use the Boatwatch Team Leaders WhatsApp group.

5. Notes:

  1. If Boat Club members would prefer not to become directly involved with giving evidence to official bodies, the Club is happy to act as a ‘go between’ with the Harbour Office / Police / Customs / Border Force. Details can be given to the KEBC Boatwatch Coordinator Peter Rendell at
  2. It is not possible for Boatwatch members to make operational contact directly with the professional security staff covering the Estuary. If there is an issue of sufficient importance to pass onto them, contact can be made through the Harbour Office or the Boatwatch Coordinator.
  3. Please remember: For a report of suspicious or unusual activity to be most helpful to an official body it should ideally include the DATE, TIME, DESCRIPTION OF THOSE INVOLVED plus REGISTRATION NUMBER/BOAT NAME/HARBOUR LICENCE STICKER of any vehicle or boat that might be involved. A photo / video using a mobile phone is particularly useful.
  4. The Club has agreed to support Project Kraken – this is the local Police briefing note on this initiative:

Project KRAKEN is a National Crime Agency, Police, and Border Force initiative to increase vigilance along the UK’s coastline and maritime environment.

There are nearly 20,000 miles of coastline, and a complex network of estuaries, navigable rivers, coves, inlets, ports and harbours, all of which can be exploited by terrorists and serious criminals.

We want you to report any unusual or suspicious behaviour in these and other maritime environments. No matter how trivial it may seem; if it looks out of the ordinary, we want to know about it. Whether you work in the maritime industries, are a keen sailor, or are just walking along the coast, your local knowledge and your experience of the maritime world means you are well placed to spot anything unusual. By working together we can help to prevent terrorists and organised criminals posing a threat to your neighbours, your pastimes, your businesses and your livelihoods. They will exploit any opening they find.

How can you help us?

We want you to report any unusual or suspicious activity near the coastline and in maritime environments.

This could include, among others:

  • Crew who show signs of nervousness or a lack of awareness of maritime protocols
  • Vessels showing signs of unusual modification or minor damage.
  • Increased activity at isolated coastal locations or at unusual times of the day.
  • Any attempts to signal to vessels offshore or guide them into an unusual landfall.
  • Strange patterns of payment, such as large amounts of cash.
  • People testing site security or an unusual interest in site structures and wharfs.