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Portavogie Harbour

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Overview





Portavogie harbour is located on the northeastern coast of Ireland, nine miles northeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough and immediately north of Plough Point. It is a small, active and crowded fishing port that welcomes leisure craft but is not specifically set up to receive them.

Portavogie harbour is located on the northeastern coast of Ireland, nine miles northeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough and immediately north of Plough Point. It is a small, active and crowded fishing port that welcomes leisure craft but is not specifically set up to receive them.

The active commercial harbour offers complete protection from all conditions within its basins. Access is straightforward in offshore conditions, at any stage of the tide, night or day.
Please note

The harbour has a narrow entrance along the shoreline. It should not be approached in any significant onshore winds. It is best to consult the harbour master in advance to see if berthing space is available and take his guidance. Vessels will most likely be berthed alongside fishing boats or a rough quay wall so ample fenders plus a fender board are advisable.




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Keyfacts for Portavogie Harbour



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPost Office in the areaChandlery available in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Berth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from NE, ENE, E, ESE and SE.Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periods



HM  +44 28 4277 1470      Ch.14, 12 &16
Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 27.410' N, 005° 26.115' W

Upon the position of the South Pier Head navigation lights Fl GWR 5 sec 9m 8-10M situated at the pier’s northern end.

What is the initial fix?

The following Ardglass Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 27.482' N, 005° 24.867' W
Three quarters of a mile out from the head of the breakwater, northeast of Plough Light buoy. It is in the middle of the Portavogie Light white sector (258°- 275°) and the harbour will be on a bearing of 267º T from the initial fix.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location.

  • From the north keep outside of Skullmartin, Burial Island and the McCammon Rocks.

  • From the south pass inshore or offshore of the Butter Paddy and the South Rocks but offshore of North Rocks and Plough Rock.

  • Find Plough Rock Bouy and steer due west onto the outer pier head's tower where the entrance is situated.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Portavogie Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Ballyhalbert Bay - 1.3 miles N
  2. Kircubbin - 2.6 miles WNW
  3. Ballywalter - 3.5 miles NNW
  4. Ballyhenry Bay - 3.8 miles SW
  5. Portaferry - 3.8 miles SW
  6. Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village) - 4.1 miles SW
  7. Audley's Roads - 4.1 miles SW
  8. Audley’s Point - 4.1 miles SW
  9. Pawle Island - 4.2 miles W
  10. Ringhaddy Sound - 4.3 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Ballyhalbert Bay - 1.3 miles N
  2. Kircubbin - 2.6 miles WNW
  3. Ballywalter - 3.5 miles NNW
  4. Ballyhenry Bay - 3.8 miles SW
  5. Portaferry - 3.8 miles SW
  6. Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village) - 4.1 miles SW
  7. Audley's Roads - 4.1 miles SW
  8. Audley’s Point - 4.1 miles SW
  9. Pawle Island - 4.2 miles W
  10. Ringhaddy Sound - 4.3 miles W
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try our resources search



How to get in?


Portavogie Harbour is an important and highly active commercial fishing port. The modern harbour houses a large fishing fleet catching mainly prawns and herrings. Most evenings there are fish auctions on the quays. Portavogie town stands mainly on the north side of its protective breakwaters.

In the past leisure craft were not welcome and no provisions had been made to accommodate them. These days, although the harbour is still not set up for leisure craft, cruising sailors are welcome inside. But expect the harbour to give priority to its fishing fleet and it may be very ‘rough and ready’ rafting up here.

Owing to the level of fishing activity and space constrictions it is preferred that leisure craft consult the Harbour Master for advice in advance of an approach. Portavogie Harbour Master VHF Channel 14 P: +44 28 4277 1470 M: +44 77 1207 4609

Normal Working Hours: Mon - Thur 8 am to 4.30 pm, Fri 8 am to 3.30 pm, Sat 8 am to 12 noon (Excludes Sundays and Statutory Holidays)


Northern Approach Vessels approaching from the north should keep outside of Skullmartin and Burial Island, situated three miles south by southeast of Skullmartin Rock and 400 metres east of Burr Point. A channel exists between Burial Island and Ballyhalbert Point, narrowed by a spit of gravel extending from the latter to about 100 metres in width, and it carries a depth of 2 metres at low water. Passing outside, keeping at least 600 metres east of the island, would be the preferred path to proceed towards the Plough Rock buoy, two miles south, that should start to become visible at this point.

Continue towards the Plough Rock buoy passing outside the McCammon Rocks. These are situated a mile and a half to the south of Burial Island and one-third of a mile from the shore. Almost all of these rocks cover at high water, except for a small high section, but depths of 12 metres will be found just 300 metres eastward.



Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south can safely set course to pass inshore or offshore of the Butter Paddy and the South Rocks.

Butter Pladdy is a 400 metres wide cluster of rocks that ranges in depth from 1.8 to 4 metres of water. Approximately 200 metres from the centre there is a wreck of a steel ship that only uncovers at low water. Butter Pladdy is marked by an east cardinal.

Butter Pladdy – East Cardinal Q (3) 10s position: 54° 22.453’N, 005° 25.741’W

The cardinal is placed to the east of the shoal as a guide to vessels taking the offshore route along this coast.

South Rock is part of an extensive group of covered rocks that are barely covered at high water. The tide always creates a rippling over the bank, and in strong breezes, there is a heavy breaking sea on it. Amidst the cluster is the primary South Rock that is always uncovered and hosts a disused Lighthouse.

South Rock - Unlit disused lighthouse position: 54° 23.948’N, 005° 25.148’W

Vessels passing outside can take a mark from the South Rock Light Float. The red-hulled structure with a light-tower and white mast on the foredeck is stationed one-mile east-by-north of the extensive cluster of rocks it marks.
South Rock Light Float - Fl (3) R 30s 12m 20M position: 54° 24.478’N, 005° 21.993’W

A mile and a half to the north of South Rock is a significant cluster of rocks called the North Rocks. North Rocks, with its breeding Grey Seals, is an irregular bank of rocks and gravel that only cover on spring tides. It extends nearly ¾ of a mile in an east and west direction.

This must be passed on the outside as a narrow spit of gravel, called the Kirkistown Spit, extends from North Rock to Ringboy Point on the mainland. A red painted stone pillar beacon stands, 12 metres above high water on the eastern end of North Rocks, about 150 metres inside from the eastern drying edge. This makes the rock identifiable in most conditions.

North Rock Beacon – Unlit position: 54° 25.638’N, 005° 24.970’W

Once past North Rock steer for Portavogie’s port hand Plough Rock buoy. This is situated a mile and three quarters to the north of North Rock and half a mile out from the harbour. Vessels passing a quarter of a mile to the east of the North Rock Beacon will see the buoy appear in front of Burial Island. Likewise keeping North Rock’s pillar beacon in line astern, or open to the west of the South Rock tower, clears Plough Rock and leads to the buoy.

Plough Rock - Fl R 3s position: 54° 27.389’N, 005° 25.104’W

If the half tide Plough Rock is showing it is safe to cut in between the rock and the buoy.


Initial fix location From the initial fix track in due west, by night along the middle of the Portavogie Light’s white sector 258°- 275°, on the steel tower standing at the head of the outer breakwater.

Portavogie Harbour – Iso.W.R.G. 5s 9m 10-8M position: 54° 27.400´N, 005° 26.100´W

The approach path passes through rocky areas that lay offshore to the northeast and southwest of Portavogie. These are Selk Rock and McCammon Rocks to the northeast covered by the green sector, shore to 258°, and Plough Rock that dries to 3 metres covered by the red sector 275° - 348°, of the Portavogie Light. The path is narrowed by shallow areas of the approach path with 1.2m to the north, plus a section with 1.8 metres close south near the harbour entrance.

The final stretch outside the entrance is through a short 24-metre wide channel running out eastward of the harbour entrance. The entrance faces due north, with a steel tower standing on the southern outer pier head, and an inner pier 2FG Vert off the shoreline.
Please note

A radio watch must be maintained on harbour entry or exit. Keep a good lookout for vessels entering or exiting the harbour before a final approach is made and give all other vessels priority.


Once within the outer heads continue alongside the outer breakwater for about 40 metres then prepare to turn hard to starboard. This is where the 10 metres wide entrance to the main harbour’s Middle Basin is located. The harbour has a maintained depth of 3 metres throughout.


Haven location Berth as directed in the Inner or Middle Basin as directed by the harbour master.


Why visit here?
Portavogie’s name is derived from its original Gaelic name Port a' Bhogaigh meaning ‘port or place of the boggy area’. The name evolved over time from its 1620 name of ‘Portabogagh’, to ‘Portavaud’ and finally, ‘Portavogie’ that was first recorded in 1810.

Port in Irish means either ‘port’ or ‘place, spot, locality’ and An Bogach means ‘the boggy area’. Most unusually it is unlikely that the word Port here is meant in the sense of a 'port' or 'harbour' as there is no evidence to suggest that an ancient landing place ever existed at Portavogie. The 1625 Clandeboye estate map, the earliest record of the townland, showed no sign of any harbour or beaching area that neighbouring Ballywalter and Ballyhalbert Bay have historically been used for. The ‘bog’ however certainly existed as the entire area of the Ards peninsula, particularly the Blackstaff River delta, was historically an extensive bog.

Portavogies birth was born out of Scottish migration to northeastern Ireland that took off in the late 16th century and intensified in the early 17th century. This area, with the homeland in view on a clear day, saw large-scale migration. In 1606 Sir Hugh Montgomery and James Hamilton acquired property in the Ards Peninsula to develop it as a private plantation. The first map of Portavogie, Hamilton's 1625 map drawn by Thomas Raven that is today on display in the ‘North Down Heritage Centre in Bangor’, showed rabbits drawn over the area close south of the town that was then described as a Warren.

In 1735 the Anglo-Normans Echlin family were gifted the "Savage" land by the crown as a reward for services rendered. This was a powerful and industrious family who held lands in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, an area to the north of Edinburgh. They set about the task of draining the mid-Ards depression between Portavogie, Kirkistown and the Salt Water Bridge. Their contribution can be seen today in the quality of the fertile arable land of the "Bogs" and the greater wealth this created was a primary impetus for the development of towns and ports on and around the peninsula.

The village of Portavogie first appeared after the dredging, around 1750. It commenced with the arrival of a community of Scottish fishing families from Maidens in Ayrshire. They were "Covenanters" who had come from Scotland to escape the persecution. A small harbour with an off-lying anchorage was hewed from the rocky landscape and a mainly Presbyterian village quickly developed around it. By 1900 there were 18 families associated with Portavogie and many of these lines have continued to this day. Portavogie was to see its most significant change in the latter half of the twentieth century when the harbour underwent major reconstruction work at the end of the 70's. New chambers and boat slips were built as well as a fish market and an ice plant. HRH Princess Anne visited the village to officially open the new harbour in 1985. The rebuilding of the harbour area transformed a "pretty" safe anchorage into a modern, if slightly unappealing, industrial harbour.

Today Portavogie is home to a large active fleet of traditional fishing boats and several seafood processing plants. It is the second largest fishing village in Ulster with nearby Kilkeel being the largest. Most evenings there are fish auctions on the quays for the catch of prawns and herrings. These markets are themselves a worthwhile draw for the passing boatman who would take the opportunity to stock up on an impromptu visit. Several resident seals can often be seen in the harbour, waiting patiently on returning boats in the hope of catching some treats. Three murals on the exterior of the local school celebrate the history of the fishing industry in the town.

However the fortunes are inextricably linked to the now declining fishing industry, declining fish stocks and ever increasing fuel and operating costs are combining to reduce the fishing fleets of Ireland and the UK. What remains unchanged however is the fishermen’s Ulster-Scots heritage. It is as clearly visible in the rising sun, that provides inspiring views of Scotland and the Isle of Man, as in their accents where one is 'yin', night is pronounced 'nicht' and ‘don't know’ is clearly 'dinny noo'.

From a boating point of view, Portavogie is a useful drop-in harbour, albeit one for a vessel that comes well equipped with fenders and fender boards to protect them from a rough and ready industrial harbour. It offers quick and straightforward seaward access at any stage of the tide, night or day, and being just ten miles north of the Strangford Lough entrance it is a useful staging berth to time a favourable tide to enter the lough.


What facilities are available?
With a population of approximately 2000 people all basic provisions can be found at Portavogie. The area is geared to meet the needs of the fishing fleet. A boatyard where repairs to large fishing vessels may be undertaken is available and there is a ships' chandler. Supplies of diesel and fresh water are available at the wharfs, and there is a bus service to Newtownards.


Any security concerns?
Portavogie is an open quay where normal security procedures should be adopted.


With thanks to:
Michael Young - Harbour Master Kilkeel. Photography with thanks to Rossographer, Ardfern, Michael Parry, Oliver Dixon, Eric Jones and Albert Bridge.


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



























A photo montage of Portavogie Harbour including aerial images


About Portavogie Harbour

Portavogie’s name is derived from its original Gaelic name Port a' Bhogaigh meaning ‘port or place of the boggy area’. The name evolved over time from its 1620 name of ‘Portabogagh’, to ‘Portavaud’ and finally, ‘Portavogie’ that was first recorded in 1810.

Port in Irish means either ‘port’ or ‘place, spot, locality’ and An Bogach means ‘the boggy area’. Most unusually it is unlikely that the word Port here is meant in the sense of a 'port' or 'harbour' as there is no evidence to suggest that an ancient landing place ever existed at Portavogie. The 1625 Clandeboye estate map, the earliest record of the townland, showed no sign of any harbour or beaching area that neighbouring Ballywalter and Ballyhalbert Bay have historically been used for. The ‘bog’ however certainly existed as the entire area of the Ards peninsula, particularly the Blackstaff River delta, was historically an extensive bog.

Portavogies birth was born out of Scottish migration to northeastern Ireland that took off in the late 16th century and intensified in the early 17th century. This area, with the homeland in view on a clear day, saw large-scale migration. In 1606 Sir Hugh Montgomery and James Hamilton acquired property in the Ards Peninsula to develop it as a private plantation. The first map of Portavogie, Hamilton's 1625 map drawn by Thomas Raven that is today on display in the ‘North Down Heritage Centre in Bangor’, showed rabbits drawn over the area close south of the town that was then described as a Warren.

In 1735 the Anglo-Normans Echlin family were gifted the "Savage" land by the crown as a reward for services rendered. This was a powerful and industrious family who held lands in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, an area to the north of Edinburgh. They set about the task of draining the mid-Ards depression between Portavogie, Kirkistown and the Salt Water Bridge. Their contribution can be seen today in the quality of the fertile arable land of the "Bogs" and the greater wealth this created was a primary impetus for the development of towns and ports on and around the peninsula.

The village of Portavogie first appeared after the dredging, around 1750. It commenced with the arrival of a community of Scottish fishing families from Maidens in Ayrshire. They were "Covenanters" who had come from Scotland to escape the persecution. A small harbour with an off-lying anchorage was hewed from the rocky landscape and a mainly Presbyterian village quickly developed around it. By 1900 there were 18 families associated with Portavogie and many of these lines have continued to this day. Portavogie was to see its most significant change in the latter half of the twentieth century when the harbour underwent major reconstruction work at the end of the 70's. New chambers and boat slips were built as well as a fish market and an ice plant. HRH Princess Anne visited the village to officially open the new harbour in 1985. The rebuilding of the harbour area transformed a "pretty" safe anchorage into a modern, if slightly unappealing, industrial harbour.

Today Portavogie is home to a large active fleet of traditional fishing boats and several seafood processing plants. It is the second largest fishing village in Ulster with nearby Kilkeel being the largest. Most evenings there are fish auctions on the quays for the catch of prawns and herrings. These markets are themselves a worthwhile draw for the passing boatman who would take the opportunity to stock up on an impromptu visit. Several resident seals can often be seen in the harbour, waiting patiently on returning boats in the hope of catching some treats. Three murals on the exterior of the local school celebrate the history of the fishing industry in the town.

However the fortunes are inextricably linked to the now declining fishing industry, declining fish stocks and ever increasing fuel and operating costs are combining to reduce the fishing fleets of Ireland and the UK. What remains unchanged however is the fishermen’s Ulster-Scots heritage. It is as clearly visible in the rising sun, that provides inspiring views of Scotland and the Isle of Man, as in their accents where one is 'yin', night is pronounced 'nicht' and ‘don't know’ is clearly 'dinny noo'.

From a boating point of view, Portavogie is a useful drop-in harbour, albeit one for a vessel that comes well equipped with fenders and fender boards to protect them from a rough and ready industrial harbour. It offers quick and straightforward seaward access at any stage of the tide, night or day, and being just ten miles north of the Strangford Lough entrance it is a useful staging berth to time a favourable tide to enter the lough.

Other options in this area


Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Portaferry - 3.8 miles SW
Ballyhenry Bay - 3.8 miles SW
Kircubbin - 2.6 miles WNW
Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 4.8 miles WNW
White Rock Bay - 4.7 miles WNW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Ballyhalbert Bay - 1.3 miles N
Ballywalter - 3.5 miles NNW
Copelands Marina - 7.1 miles NNW
Donaghadee Harbour - 7.3 miles NNW
Chapel Bay - 8.3 miles NNW

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Portavogie Harbour.
























A photo montage of Portavogie Harbour including aerial images



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