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Portrush Harbour

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Overview





Portrush Harbour is situated on the north coast of Ireland approximately ten miles east of the entrance to Lough Foyle, on the west side of the Ramore Head promontory. It is a small harbour enclosed by two piers where it is possible to berth alongside a pontoon or to pick up moorings in the harbour area.

Tucked into the promontory behind substantial breakwaters the harbour provides good protection and shelter from most elements in all reasonable conditions. However in strong north or north westerly conditions shore swell enters the harbour making it uncomfortable. Access is straightforward as all that is required is to pass between the heads of the lighted North and South Piers and there is a minimum of two metres depth in the entrance at LWS. However Portrush Bay is subject to a ground swell that runs across the harbour entrance making it hazardous to attempt in any west or north-westerly winds over force four to five.
Please note

The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning. The harbour is small, very busy and subject to congestion and it would be difficult to leave a boat unattended here for an extended period.




4 comments
Keyfacts for Portrush Harbour
HM  +44 28 7082 2307     Club  +44 28 7082 3932      info@portrushyachtclub.com      Ch.12
Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.


Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from W, WNW, NW and NNW.Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMSD (marine sanitation device) pump out facilitiesElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area

Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Now Force

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

LWS draught

3 metres (9.84 feet).

Today's tide estimates

LW 01:53 (0.4m) HW 08:15 (2.1m)
LW 14:10 (0.6m) HW 20:36 (1.8m)
We are now on Springs

Swell today




Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.


Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from W, WNW, NW and NNW.Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMSD (marine sanitation device) pump out facilitiesElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area

Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 12.417' N, 006° 39.498' W

This position of the pontoon on the north pier inside the harbour.

What is the initial fix?

The following Portrush Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 12.920' N, 006° 40.400' W
Approximately three quarters of a mile northwest by north of the harbour in open water to the west of Ramore Head. It is set on the 083.5° / 263.5° T ‘Storks Beacon’ line of bearing that leads through the middle of Skerries Sound. Track in on 144°, to the northern pierhead and entrance from here.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the east and southbound Route location or north and westbound Route location sequenced 'Malin Head to Strangford Lough' coastal description.

  • Locate Portrush’s conspicuous North Pierhead Fl R 3s 6m 3M and head towards it.

  • On closer approached come south until it is well open before turning northeast to track in.

  • Give the head of the North Pier a wide berth as a sunken breakwater extends about 20 metres southwest from it.



Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Portrush Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Seatons Marina - 2.1 miles SSW
  2. Coleraine - 2.4 miles S
  3. Portballintrae - 2.4 miles E
  4. The Lower River Bann - 2.4 miles SW
  5. Portnocker - 5.7 miles W
  6. White Bay - 5.7 miles W
  7. Portkill - 5.9 miles WNW
  8. Cornashamma Bay - 6.2 miles W
  9. Ballintoy Harbour - 6.3 miles ENE
  10. Silver Strand - 6.4 miles W
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Seatons Marina - 2.1 miles SSW
  2. Coleraine - 2.4 miles S
  3. Portballintrae - 2.4 miles E
  4. The Lower River Bann - 2.4 miles SW
  5. Portnocker - 5.7 miles W
  6. White Bay - 5.7 miles W
  7. Portkill - 5.9 miles WNW
  8. Cornashamma Bay - 6.2 miles W
  9. Ballintoy Harbour - 6.3 miles ENE
  10. Silver Strand - 6.4 miles W
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


How to get in?
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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Portrush is busy holiday town saddling the promontory of Ramore Head and the shoreline of Portrush Bay. It has a small harbour protected by two breakwaters that caters for commercial fishing vessels, small yachts and angling boats. The harbour lies close south of Ramore Head and on the west side of the promontory facing into Portrush Bay. It has limited berths and it is advisable to make arrangements during office hours with the HM in advance P: +44 28 7082 2307 M: +44 788 908 1860 VHF Ch 12.


Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the western section of Rathlin Sound will find it clear of dangers with the exception of Carrickmannanon off Kinbane Head two and a half miles southeast of Sheep Island. Pass at least 300 metres north to the north of the distinctive Sheep Island to avoid detached rocks on its northern side and Rock-on-Stewart situated approximately 700 metres to the west of Sheep Island and 400 metres north of Ballintoy Point. Benbane Head is the next northern extremity, a distance of approximately five miles from Ballintoy Point. The coast is steep here and remarkably bold in appearance with columnar basalt cliffs rising almost perpendicularly from the sea to a height of 120 metres. Vessels hugging the coast should keep clear of the off-lying Mile Stone off Runkerry Point before crossing Bushmills Bay.
Please note

A formidable tide race exists off this headland and it is recommended that a vessel keeps at least two miles offshore of Benbane Head to avoid it.




From the cove of Portballintrae, readily identified from seaward by its housing developments, there is a choice of approaches to Portrush circumventing The Skerries. The Skerries are formed from a chain of low rocky islets and are located one mile from the shore. The group’s western end are located a third of a mile northeast of Ramore Head from which they extend for a mile and a half in a westerly direction. The largest islets are Great Skerrie, which is about 200 metres across and 25 metres high, whilst little Skerrie is only 15 metres high. The choices to pass The Skerries are either to pass between them and the shoreline to the south, through Skerries Roadstead and Sound, or go out to seaward passing outside and to the north side of the group.


Coastal cruisers will find ample water in the passage through Skerries Roadstead, between the group and the mainland, and Skerries Sound, between the Carr Rocks and the Ranmore headland, making it a convenient and interesting approach to Portrush. Although tides may be disturbed on either side of the Skerries it sets fair through the Sound that is free from outlying island dangers. Vessels can even obtain sheltered anchorage, during the summer, within Skerries Roadstead which lies at the south side of the chain. However at night this approach has no lit marks and in poor weather a heavy sea can be experienced within this narrow passage, especially so at the narrower western end, where strong tidal currents and overfalls are often encountered. In all these cases, and in limited visibility without the benefit of an experienced local boatman aboard, it would be best to avoid the unnecessarily narrow channel and approach Portrush from outside the Skerries.


Those taking the inshore route should identify The Storks beacon that is the key Skerries Roadstead mark. The Storks beacon is a conspicuous if unlit red conical metal beacon, ball topmark, 11 metres in height that lies about 0.7 of a mile offshore. It is situated on the eastern entrance to Skerries Roadstead, two and a half miles from Ramore Head and the sea breaks heavily upon it in any swell. The Storks are an isolated patch of rocks that are steep-to on the northern side having 13 metres 100 metres from the mark. Keeping 200 metres to the north clears all dangers but the south and east side has foul ground that extends out 300 metres and should be given a wide bearing.




Vessels approaching from the northeast may use the Admiralty Chart 2494 line of bearing of 219° T of the conspicuous Ballywillan Church tower. This leads through the middle of the mile wide passage to the northwest of The Storks Beacon and to the southeast of Black Rock the easternmost of the Skerries. Coastal cruising passing along the mainland shore can also pass south of foul ground on the south side of The Storks’. There is a half mile wide channel here with up to 11 metres of water, no outlying dangers and plenty to see ashore.


A mile to the west of Portballintrae, at the end of a line of mainly black rock basalt cliffs that rise and stretch eastward from the small village, stands the magnificent ruins of Dunluce Castle. Perched on the summit of a rocky outcrop the prominent castle overhangs the sea and is approached from land by a narrow causeway over a stone bridge, whilst underneath the castle is a particularly beautiful cavern. West of the castle, to the south of The Storks, the limestone cliffs of ‘White Rocks Beach’ commence. The powerful dumping waves have carved this coastal limestone into caves and huge sea sculptures with interesting names such as the ‘elephant rock’ and the ‘lions’s claw’. The last three-quarters of a mile to Portrush is a range of sand hills.



In the middle of the Skerries Roadstead The Storks Beacon provides an eastbound line-of-bearing of 083.5° T, westbound 262.5° T astern, that leads through the central Skerries Roadstead and Sound. Here it is simply a matter of tracking along the line-of-bearing with plenty of water on each side. With the exception of the Stork Rocks, the area between The Skerries and the shore is free from danger.


The narrowest point of the passage is at the exit in Skerries Sound. Skerries Sound leads between Ramore Head and the southwest end of the chain called the Carr Rocks. The navigable fairway here is only 180 metres wide and its currents attain speeds of up to 2.5 kn. Although the centre is clear of danger and has depths of up to 14 metres of water, attention must be paid to two dangerous sunken rocks that skirt each side.


The first is the Reviggerly reef on the south side. This is a shelving rock that extends 50 metres into the sound from the east part of Ramore Head.


Then opposite, on the north side of Skerries Sound, are sunken Carr Rocks that mark the western end of the Skerries group. Situated 400 metres northeast by north of Ramore Head they uncover at half-tide and are always visible by the break on them. The southwestern most corner of the group is Big Carr that dries to 0.9 of a metre. It is situated under 100 metres to the southwest of the tiny islet of South Island Ean that is 5 metre high.


The northern sunken Carr Rocks are the particular concern as the bay’s east going tide sets strongly towards Ramore Head, across the entrance of Skerries Sound and onto these covered rocks. The safest option, travelling either way, is to tend to the southern side of the Skerries Sound where the reliably visible, and partially-exposed, Reviggerly Reef is situated off the steep-to Ramore Head.


Western Approach Vessels approaching from the west or northwest will find few hazards to the west of Portrush as far as the entrance of Lough Foyle. From Lough Foyle you will find a shoreline composed of rocky precipices rising to Mount Benevenagh’s 396 metre summit a short distance inland. The entire coastline is fronted by a low sandy beach extending nine miles from Magilligan Point. With the exception of the Tuns Bank, extending three miles northeast from Magilligan Point at the Foyle entrance, this passage is clear of any danger save for the shoaling beach. There are some outlying rocks after Portstewart, but there are no hidden dangers beyond a quarter of a mile from the shoreline. A berth of at least 600 metres will keep a vessel well clear of this. The principal headland encountered after Portstewart, on a western approach, is Ramore Head where the small harbour of Portrush presents itself.





Initial fix location The Portrush initial fix is located on the ‘Storks Beacon’ line of bearing and may be a helpful guide for an easterly approach through Skerries Sound, or northerly approach outside.


Portrush Bay shoals gradually inwards towards the strand and is clear of dangers except on its west side. The 7 metre high Island Doo, 200 metres out from the shore, has The Moat, a half-tide rock drying to 1.2 metres, situated about a 200 metres further to the west of it. Portrush Harbour will be clearly visible throughout the entire bay.

From the initial fix the harbour is entered between the heads of North Pier and South Pier on each of which stands a light. The North Pier: Fl R 3s 6m 3M visible 220°-160° T and the South Pier: Fl G 3s 6m 3M and is visible 220°-100° T.

North Pierhead – light Fl R 3s 6m 3M position: 55° 12.337’N, 006° 39.580’W

The North Pier light and those within the harbour make a night entry easy but expect to find some difficulty to pick out the navigation lights from the town lights behind. Leading lights as shown on the Admiralty 2494 plan are sometimes available flashing red on red triangles 028° T but these are normally only switched on for lifeboat use.


In all cases once the entrance has been identified, come south until it is well open before turning northeast to track into the harbour.



Care is required in the final approach to the harbour entrance itself. The north pier should be given a wide berth as a sunken breakwater, with 0.6 metres of cover, runs out about 20 metres to the southwest from the pierhead. In robust conditions expect a ground swell to run across the entrance.
Please note

The eddies in Portrush Bay make the harbour difficult to approach in light winds by sail. Only the first quarter of the ebb sets from Ramore Head towards the harbour. After this, for the remainder of the ebb and the whole of the flood, an eddy commences running from the harbour out along the rocks to the north. Furthermore the winds in the harbour entrance are known to be inconsistent so be prepared to power from Ramore Head into the harbour.




Haven location Once through the entrance take a central route up through the harbour and come alongside the southern end of the 45 metre long pontoon that runs along the head of the North Pier where depths in excess of 3 metres will be found alongside. A slightly uncomfortable swell may be felt in westerly conditions where the Harbour Master will offer best advice.

Once the vessel is secured seek directions from the harbour office. A temporary overnight stay is possible on the pontoon berth but this must be vacated in the morning. Vacant moorings may also be available by arrangement with the harbour master.


What's the story here?
Portrush derives its name from the Irish Port Rois meaning ‘the landing place on the promontory’ or ‘port of the promontory’.

Portrush’s History of human habitation goes back to ‘Larnian’; the late Irish Mesolithic period. A number of flint tools were found here in the late nineteenth century that have recently been dated to around 4000 BC. Set on the Ramore Head promontory the site would have provided excellent natural defences. To underscore this the name Ramore is derived from the Irish ‘Rath Mhor’ meaning 'big ring fort'.




The current town began as a small fishing settlement that grew around a Norman Castle known as Caisleán an Teenie in the 12th or 13th century. This castle was believed to have been sited at the tip of Ramore Head and it had a church close by. Portrush church’s takings, as detailed in the 1306 records of the papal taxation, were very good and by extension the settlement must have been wealthy. It is believed the Norman Castle was destroyed in the late 16th century and no trace of it nor the church can be found today. Another castle, ‘Portrush Castle’, was believed to have been built in the town early in the 17th century around the time of the Plantation of Ulster. Again nothing survives of this structure, but in its day after the ‘Wars of the Three Kingdoms’, between 1639 and 1651, Portrush had been well established as a small fishing town.


Major development came in the 19th century following the industrialised post-railway holiday boom. Following the opening of the Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Portrush Junction Railway in 1855 thousands came to enjoy new found leisure time on Portrush's three sandy beaches. These beaches, the West Strand, East Strand and White Rocks, are among the finest beaches in Ireland. During this period Portrush acquired its elegant terraces of Georgian houses that reach out along the mile long peninsula towards Ramore Head. It is in this stretch of construction that the main part of the old town is situated including the railway station as well as most of the hotels, restaurants and bars. The Royal Portrush Golf Club opened in 1888, Portrush Yacht Club was established in 1894 and Portrush was directly connected to the Giant's Causeway by the ‘Giant's Causeway Tramway’ in 1893. The ‘Giant's Causeway Tramway’ was at that time one of the world's longest electrified railways. By the turn of the twentieth century Portrush had become one of the major resort towns of Ireland, with a number of large hotels and boarding houses including the prominent Northern Counties Hotel. These were the town's seminal years, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the town declined when foreign travel began after the Second World War.


Today Portrush carries forward its legacy as a bustling seaside town that hosts a considerable number of summer visitors and runs special events throughout the year. It has a variety of eating out options with restaurants, gastro pubs, cafes and hotels, and has all amenities a popular holiday resort demands including the renowned Royal Portrush Golf Club situated on the peninsula. As such the town offers a host of activities for all the family and it is an especially good location for younger family members. The safe harbour also makes it a base from which to visit surrounding attractions. Well worth visiting in the immediate area is Dunluce Castle that is situated on the coast three miles east of Portrush, on the coast road towards Portballintrae, and south of the Storks. The spectacular castle-crowned crag that stands a hundred feet above the sea is thought by many to be the most picturesque and romantic of Irish castles. World renowned attractions such as the Giants Causeway, 10 miles from Portrush, Old Bushmills Distillery, & the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge are also located nearby making the visit very worthwhile.


The Skerries, where it is possible to anchor, are an important habitat to a large population of breeding seabirds of which several bird species are unique. Interestingly the islands claim a foot note in geological history. Formed from cooled volcanic lava, geological evidence from this outcrop was pivotal in proving the theory that basalt is formed from cooled volcanic lava.


From a sailing perspective Portrush is a very useful harbour. It is easily accessed and sitting adjacent to the main sailing fairways of the north coast it takes little time to drop in. Likewise it is a perfect staging location to set up a 25 miles westward run around Malin Head, or a 20 miles eastward one around Fair Head. Provisioning and transport links are all excellent from here. But there would be no reason to leave hastily as it is a great berth from which to enjoy the area. A short stroll from its secure picturesque harbour, are restaurants, wine bars, cosy pubs, and beyond its beautiful sandy beach with panoramic views over the ocean to the Causeway Coast, Scotland and the Donegal hills. Add to this a wide range of activities for younger folk and the aforementioned attractions of the wider area with good transport links and there’s something for everyone aboard at Portrush.




What facilities are available?
The pontoon offers water and fuel, and arrangements can be made to dispose of waste from on-board waste tanks. Fresh provisions including gas and a launderette can be obtained from the sizeable town which serves a population of about 6,500 that expands considerably during the summer. Portrush Yacht Club has showers and is located in a modern building adjacent to the Harbour Office on the quay. Visitors will find its members very welcoming. A slip plus a good beach for scrubbing can be found inside the harbour.

Portrush is a busy and friendly holiday town with all the pubs, good restaurants, wine bars and cafe resources you would expect. Its railway station is the last stop on the Coleraine-Portrush line, where travellers can connect with trains to Derry, Belfast and beyond. Translink run a regular bus and train service to and from Portrush. The nearest airport is at Aldergrove 77 km.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel in Portrush and the pontoon is a secure area. However this is a seaside resort that gets particularly busy in the season. The below user comment should be considered before planning a visit.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades. Photography with thanks to Oisin Patenall, Albert Bridge, Richard Webb, Yvonne Wakefield, Ty, Eskling, fs-phil, Willie Duffin, Kenneth Allen, Mat Tuck, Irish Studies, Rossographer, Caroline Ingram, Noxo and Calum Robinson.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.














































The following videos may help first time users familiarise themselves with Portrush.


This video presents excellent aerial views of Portrush Harbour from 2 minutes 30 seconds into the film.




Add your review or comment:


Robin Anderson wrote this review on Jan 23rd 2012:

Sadly, Portrush Harbour has been disgracefully neglected by the Local Authority with no investment in the Harbour for many, many years. The needs of boat owners and visiting yachtsmen are totally ignored. The Harbour Masters have been excellent but are totally unsupported in their work. There have been serious security problems in recent years from young yobs stoning visiting yachtsmen , boarding and damaging visiting craft. Moored boats have been cast adrift by louts who visit the harbour after getting tanked up in the local hostelries. The Council appear content to give over the harbour to drunks and yobs and have no regard to boat owners. Motorists who are too lazy to walk from the nearby huge public car parks are allowed to park all over the harbour access area. A great shame - so moor with chain and keep a close watch on your boat here as rest assured that the Local Council has no interest in supporting the harbour as a place for boats!

Average Rating: Unrated


Jim Williamson wrote this review on Jun 16th 2012:

Fortunately, our visit was good though the above comments may well be justified. Toilet and showers were adequate if not fancy. Angus Barry the harbourmaster was very friendly and helpful. The pubs were certainly busy on the Friday night of our visit but there were no incidents and no noise after about 10.30pm. The Viking laundrette 68 Causeway Street 028 7082 2060 did an excellent serevice wash.

Average Rating: Unrated


Robin Anderson wrote this review on Dec 5th 2013:

Pleased to report some welcome improvements to the Port in summer of 2013 with more control over access to the quay and improved facilities - well done the Harbour staff - hope the Council can be persuaded to invest further.

Average Rating: Unrated


Robin Anderson wrote this review on May 26th 2016:

Delighted to report a complete turn around at Portrush. The harbour is now once again a great place for boats and boaters. Security has been much improved, a barrier keeps cars off the harbour area unless attending to boats, new pontoon with water taps down on the pontoon and shore power soon to be hooked up, excellent re-furbished toilet block with key code access for boat crews, total re-furbishment of Portrush yacht club, fire fighting and lifesaving kit on the pontoon - all in a complete transformation and a great credit to those who have put all the investment of time effort and money in. Portush is now properly on the chart again for visiting yachts and boats.

Average Rating: *****

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