Monthly Archives: July 2021

eyes that save lives

the MNA Boat Club’s waterwatch initiative

Eyes That Save Lives

Some ten years ago the MNA Boat Club launched a maritime safety & surveillance scheme whereby members undertook to act as "watchkeepers afloat” to "Spot, Plot, Report and Record" any incidents, potential incidents or hazards whenever they took their boats out thereby acting in a very similar manner to that undertaken by the National Coastwatch Institution's (NCI) watchkeepers working ashore from their look-outs around the coast. Known as “SeaVue” the scheme had the support of the MCA and the RNLI but it operated almost exclusively only around the coastal waters of the UK and hardly extended inland at all,

Around the same time the RNLI launched their “Respect the Water” campaign to reduce the number (circa 200+) of accidental drownings around the coast of the UK by 50% by 2024 but once again the emphasis was on “the coast” where the RNLI maintains Lifeboat Stations rather than on inland waterways where some 70% of accidental drownings actually occur!

So three years ago the MNA Boat Club (MNABC) established an “operational partnership” with the RNLI for MNABC members to promote the Respect the Water campaign and extend the coverage of that initiative to include inland waterways, and at the same time the MNABC changed the name of  their scheme from SeaVue to the now more appropriate title of  “WaterWatch”.

Although an integral part of the Merchant Navy Association national charity with its 2,000 plus members, The MNA Boat Club is a relatively small organisation with only some 220 members so the idea that Club members alone could provide a nationwide surveillance service was essentially unrealistic and it was therefore  agreed that we would start by operating a “pilot scheme” in just one of our Boat Club regions, namely East Anglia where we already enjoyed a very good relationship as an “Affiliated Club member of  the Norfolk & Suffolk Boating Association (NSBA)

So we approached the NSBA to see if they might be interested in some kind of collaboration  with the MNA Boat Club to promote the WaterWatch Scheme in East Anglia, and in particular on The Broads, and to our delight they responded to that idea enthusiastically with the suggestion of a “partnership”  between the MNABC and the  NSBA to promote and operate WaterWatch on The Broads; this is now  firmly established with a representative of the NSBA co-opted  as a flag officer of the MNA Boat Club and a representative of the MNA Boat Club now as an elected member of the NSBA General Purposes committee.

MNABC/NSBA Partnership Arrangement

waterwatch eyes that save lives

Members of the MNA Boat Club and individual members of the NSBA who participate in the scheme are known as “WaterWatch Crew Members”.  They are briefed to act as the “eyes and ears” for the emergency services and the Broads Authority whenever they take to the water to:

  • SPOT any craft or persons in difficulty, or any actual or potential hazards
  • PLOT the relevant position
  • REPORT the facts to HM Coastguard and/or the Broads Authority
  • RECORD the incident by completing a WaterWatch Incident Report Form which is sent both to the Boat Club and to the NSBA in order to enable them both to monitor incidents and hazards and follow up developments and corrective actions.

The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF)

In March 2021 the MNA Boat Club’s WaterWatch Scheme became a member of the National Water Safety Forum  which is a UK-focused, voluntary network, working together in order to reduce water-related deaths and associated harm.

The NWSF was established in 2004 following a Government review into water safety. It sought to bring together a number of pre-existing national groups with the ambition of creating a ‘one-stop shop’ for the prevention of drowning and water safety harm in the UK, recognising the broad range of existing stakeholder groups, their respective contributions, and their own brands and values, often towards charitable objectives. Members include the MCA, RNLI, RLSS, The Broads Authority, the Environment Agency etc. etc.,

Beyond our “pilot scheme” on The Broads

The success of our joint venture with the NSBA now begs the question “could we expand our WaterWatch initiative to more inland waterways through collaboration with other potential partners? “

So if any boating associations, owners clubs  or other interested boating organisations  around the UK believe that this initiative by the MNA Boat Club may deserve your organisation’s support as a potential partner I’d be delighted to hear from you!

Clive Edwards, Commodore, Merchant Navy Association Boat Club  

water pollution award for rcr

water pollution award for river canal rescue's bilgeaway filter

River Canal Rescue has won the British Safety Industry Federation’s Water Pollution Award for its Bilgeaway filter.

rcr bilgeaway award The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) is the UK’s leading trade body for the safety sector and its annual Safety & Health Excellence Awards cover four categories; product innovation, safety solutions, customer service and water pollution prevention (the latter added in 2020).

In its entry, River Canal Rescue (RCR) explained how Bilgeaway – the world’s first environmentally-friendly bilge discharge filter – was developed to address a well-known pollution problem.

river canal rescue bilgeaway filter

Launched in January 2019, Bilgeaway traps contaminants before they’re discharged overboard by automatic bilge pumps, rendering the filter’s contents non-reactive so they can be safely disposed of, instead of going to landfill.

Over 80 entries were submitted overall, including 10 for the Water Pollution Award, which is supported by the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales.   Judges were looking for businesses that make efforts to protect the environment and ensure all water pollution risks are managed in an efficient and effective way.

river canal rescue bilgeaway awardBSIF marketing manager, Ian Crellin, announced the winners at the end of April: “These Awards recognise the excellent work that goes on within the safety industry; we celebrate the constant innovation, expert knowledge and quality service that goes on every day - all with a goal of keeping people safe.”

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “It’s great to achieve this level of recognition from the BSIF - we will continue to develop solutions and lobby others to keep our waterways and coastal waters free from pollution.”

Find out more at   and or follow the team on Facebook.

water pollution award for rcr and bilgeaway

River Canal Rescue has won the British Safety Industry Federation’s Water Pollution Award for its Bilgeaway filter.  In its entry, RCR explained how Bilgeaway – the world’s first environmentally-friendly bilge discharge filter – was developed to address a well-known pollution problem.
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