Urgent supplementary advice: updated general guidance notes follow after this urgent note:


Resumption of normal Boatwatch activities from 25 th May

After discussion with the local area Police team sergeant the KEBC Committee decided to resume normal Boatwatch activities from Monday 25th May.

All Boat Club members might like to bear in mind the advice below issued to Boatwatch Team Leaders.
We should of course keep two pieces of national Pandemic guidance in mind:

– Only members from the same household can share a boat if doing Boatwatch by water.
– Those doing a duty outing in pairs on foot must observe the two metre distancing rule, again, unless they are from the same household.

Also, of course, any Boatwatchers who have been advised to isolate or safeguard on medical grounds should not feel under any obligation. They should make their own decision on whether 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 lockdown has 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.

Current local concerns are people rather than boat related. One or two small groups of local young people have been behaving irresponsibly whilst swimming around moored boats and pontoons and not social distancing. The Police and Harbour Office are aware and monitoring, but if we see instances of this in their absence we should ring the Police on 112, or on 999 if very

Enjoy yourselves and stay safe and alert!

Richard Benton – KEBC Boatwatch Coordinator.

Information for Boatwatch and Water-watchers 2019

 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 hands! We look forward to helping them monitor the Kingsbridge end of the estuary.

The locations we visit, 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.

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 activities and actions described below, and our first priority must always be to keep ourselves, and those we are on duty with, safe.

The Club holds public liability insurance which covers, amongst other things, Club members doing Boatwatch duty, but we must operate within the guidance in these notes to be sure we are covered.

Boatwatchers should avoid doing duty alone, if at all possible, if going out on or near the water, especially in bad weather or after dark. As when boating, they should ensure someone else knows where they are and when they intend to be back home. This is mostly to ensure they stay physically safe, but also because of the possible (but very rare) eventuality that they meet somebody who wants to confront someone in a high-vis vest.

Boatwatch Role

There are two security related aspects to Boatwatch outings, the most obvious being watching out for any evidence of illegal 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 monitoring schedule in partnership 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 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 the latter is not visible. They also keep a local contact name on file for owners who live away from the area. 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 during office hours in case Harbour staff can track and intercept them.

In all cases, we should report anything of note 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 in question ideally showing its name and its Harbour Licence sticker. Clearly any live illegal or dangerous act should be reported to the Police. It would also help to copy these emails to the Boatwatch Coordinator on  He can then track trends.

Contact details of relevant authorities

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

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

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

For reporting boats / equipment condition causing concern, or cases of boats speeding within the harbour  — Harbour Office       01548 – 843791. Out of Hours – 01803 867034.

For the bulk of boat condition, mooring or slipway issues where there is no urgency an email is advised, especially when a photo is included. The email address is:


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 Richard Benton at or 07957 436198

It is not possible for Boatwatch members to make operational contact directly the professional security company 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.

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.

The Club has agreed to support Project Kraken – this is the local Police briefing note:

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 and customs.

  • 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.

What should you do?

If you see unusual or suspicious activity, report it to your local police on 101, or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, and quote “KRAKEN”.

If you want to report your information anonymously online, visit

Record as much information as you can – the smallest detail could be significant.

Do not take direct action against any individuals or groups. If it is an emergency, call 999.

About Boatwatch…

Boatwatch is the practical way that those members of KEBC who wish to volunteer support a key objective of the club and other members of the boating community at the top end of the Estuary. They do this by providing a conspicuous monitoring presence, and thereby a deterrent to marine crime. They also alert the Harbour Office to any mooring security or waterlogging issues with craft moored on the water or berthed on the foreshore.

Boatwatch can also provide advice and assistance with general boating matters and security issues and by providing traceable Security Marking materials for boats and equipment. It also maintains regular collaborative contact with the Harbour Master and his staff.

Boatwatch developed from the efforts of members concerned by the level of marine crime affecting the estuary at that time .  It began in 2006 with a number of the founding members of KEBC mounting patrols at random times noting any activity that concerned them.  The result was a dramatic downturn in the level of marine crime and the restoration of confidence for all boat owners.

Boatwatch today maintains a scheduled watch over the water throughout the main boating season from April to October.  Some 50/60 members are organised in 15 groups and each group takes responsibility for one or two weeks per year.  Each group has a coordinator who supports their group and ensures that the days of their allocated weeks are covered, though the commitment of individuals is never more than they feel they can offer.  Most members manage 3/4 visits to the water per week which can be during the morning, afternoon, early evening or late evening.  Visits can last as long as members are able to commit and can be on foot or by boat, be with friends, partners or pets and include refreshments or and ice cream!  Above all else visits should be fun and enjoyable.

Each group decides exactly how and when they will visit the estuary. The only safety requirement is that members are asked to wear the high visibility vests supplied and work in pairs as a minimum. The overriding rule is that at no time should any Boatwatch volunteer take even the slightest risk in confronting a suspected criminal or to save craft that are waterlogged or adrift.

The major aim of our activities is to encourage those with ill intent to have second thoughts and go elsewhere!  After many years now of this system operating, such incidents are thankfully rare.

A secondary but increasingly common occurrence, with the volatile Spring and Autumn weather, is reporting boats insecurely moored or becoming waterlogged or in some way at risk to the Harbour Office, who then contact the owners. This is much valued by the Harbour Office staff and boat owners.

To be successful Boatwatch depends on the membership of KEBC being willing to participate.  The commitment is not onerous other than agreeing two weeks per year when you have the time to visit the Estuary between Kingsbridge and Frogmore.  For most members that means no more than a maximum 10/12 hours per year.  The rewards are knowing that the Estuary is both a safer place to visit and to leave your boat. If someone on Boatwatch observes activities or craft causing concern, the group can either choose to report it themselves to the Police or Harbour Office or pass the information to the Boatclub Boatwatch Organiser.  In this way we hope that members do not feel obliged to get more involved with the authorities than they wish.

If you are interested and would like to know more please do contact the current Boatwatch organiser, Richard Benton on or any member of the committee.  We will be delighted to hear from you.


If any Club members notice something they feel should be reported all the necessary contact details can be found in the Boatwatch Guidance Notes which are also held on this website.