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Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village)

Tides and tools
Overview





Strangford Harbour is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, on the western shore at the head of the Narrows that leads into the magnificent sailing area and marine nature reserve that is Strangford Lough. It offers a pontoon berth, moorings and the possibility to temporarily coming alongside at the quay.

Situated in the northern part of the Narrows and protected by a small islet, Strangford Harbour offers complete protection. Although the sea entrance and Narrows are well marked, access requires careful tidal timing and navigation owing to exceptional currents. Consequently, any approach should be on the flood and ideally timed to be around slack water, in daylight, with a vessel that has adequate and reliable power. However, although the entrance and Narrows present a challenge, they are well marked and if the tides are respectfully worked they are easily managed.
Please note

Although safe to enter on the flood in most conditions newcomers should avoid making an entering in any strong onshore winds. Strangford Harbour can become crowded in peak sailing season. Special attention should also be paid when approaching the car ferry crossing from Strangford to Portaferry.




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Keyfacts for Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village)
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaPharmacy in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: whirlpools or very strong eddies in the vicinityNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaPharmacy in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: whirlpools or very strong eddies in the vicinityNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 22.330' N, 005° 33.260' W

Upon the quay in Strangford Village west of Swan Island.

What is the initial fix?

The following Strangford Lough Entrance Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 18.615' N, 005° 30.000' W
This is just over a ½ mile east of St Patrick’s Rocks, that is located 600 metres to the south-east of the western entrance's Killard Point. It is on the bearing of 323.7° T of Angus Rock Lighthouse, south and about midway of a line drawn between the Bar Pladdy South Cardinal light and Strangford Safe-Water buoy.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details for vessels approaching Strangford Lough from the north are available in the northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location. Details for vessels approaching from the south are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location. Details of the approaches, tidal timings and the run up the Narrows to about a ½ mile below Strangford are covered in the Entering and exiting the Strangford Narrows Route location.


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 Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village) for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Portaferry - 0.3 miles NNE
  2. Audley's Roads - 0.4 miles NW
  3. Ballyhenry Bay - 0.6 miles NNW
  4. Audley’s Point - 0.7 miles NW
  5. Cross Roads - 0.9 miles SSE
  6. Chapel Island - 1 miles WNW
  7. Between Jackdaw & Chapel Island - 1.1 miles WNW
  8. West of Jackdaw Island - 1.2 miles WNW
  9. Kilclief Bay - 1.4 miles SSE
  10. South of Salt Island - 1.9 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Portaferry - 0.3 miles NNE
  2. Audley's Roads - 0.4 miles NW
  3. Ballyhenry Bay - 0.6 miles NNW
  4. Audley’s Point - 0.7 miles NW
  5. Cross Roads - 0.9 miles SSE
  6. Chapel Island - 1 miles WNW
  7. Between Jackdaw & Chapel Island - 1.1 miles WNW
  8. West of Jackdaw Island - 1.2 miles WNW
  9. Kilclief Bay - 1.4 miles SSE
  10. South of Salt Island - 1.9 miles W
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
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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How to get in?


Strangford is a small conservation village at the mouth of Strangford Lough. The pretty little village has a small harbour which is overlooked by rows of 19th-century cottages and a fine Georgian terrace. It a destination for sailboats and motorboats who stop in to enjoy the unique beauty of this village. This is greatly facilitated by moorings and a new pontoon provided by The Cuan hotel and restaurant that enables boats to tie up regardless of the tide and walk ashore.

It is advisable to phone The Cuan P: +44 28 4488 1222 at least 24 hours in advance of any intended visit. Details on their moorings are available on their web site and they can be contacted by e-mail on E: info@thecuan.com




Convergance Point Details of the approaches, tidal timings and the run up the Narrows to about a ½ below Strangford are covered in the Entering and exiting the Strangford Narrows Route location route description.




Swan Island will appear like a grassy mound on approach but a rocky reef surrounds it. It is marked by three light beacons to the North, East and South. If passing you should stay at least 40 metres off its easternmost white stone beacon Fl(2)WR6s.


Swan Island at low water
Image: Dave Snowden via CC BY-SA 2.0


Safe water for entrance can be found by rounding to the north of Swan Island’s North Pladdy, Harbour Q Fl situated 100 metres northeast of the island, or to the south of the South Pladdy, beacon Fl. (3) 10s situated 40 metres south-southwest of the island.




Take care on the final approach when meeting the vehicle ferry that crosses to Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula at 15-minute intervals, 8 am to 11 pm. The vessels tracking, when carried by the swift-moving currents, makes it difficult to judge relative paths and closing distances.

Likewise, attention should be paid to steerage when passing from the main tidal streams of the fairway into the comparative slack water of Strangford Harbour.




Haven location The easiest option is The Cuan Restaurant's pontoon and visitor moorings. Their pontoon extends from the north of the pier providing from 2.6 to 3.6 metres alongside on its outer eastern side, and depths of 1.6m on the inside.

Three mooring buoys can be found south of Swan Islet in depths of 3 to 7 metres out of the main runs of the Narrows tidal stream but subject to some north going back-eddies. There is little space to anchor out of the main tidal streams.




The Cuan is also the point to register and pay for the use of the pontoon. Where possible visitors should try to be good patrons of the bar and restaurant.

If a berth is available it is possible to temporarily come alongside New Quay to the south-west of Swan Island where 3 metres is available alongside, but take care if berthing at the outer end of the quay as the tidal stream runs diagonally across it. Be prepared to move immediately if requested. The ferry berths overnight alongside the outer east face of the pier.
Please note

The harbour is most likely to be crowded in the summer and the ferries RoRo terminal at the south end of the harbour is reserved exclusively for its use.




Why visit here?
Strangford (deriving its name from the Vikings - Strangrfjörthr meaning "‘violent or strong ford" describing the Narrows’ fast-flowing current) is a small, picturesque village. Strangford together with Portaferry and its marina across the ‘Narrows’, are gateways to Strangford Lough which provides a boatman with magnificent cruising in unspoilt surroundings.

The sea Lough (lake) is a marine nature reserve of unparalleled beauty and, at sixteen miles long, four miles wide, and covering an area of 150 km², it is the largest inlet on the east coast of Ireland. Fringed by beautiful coves, inlets and drumlins, dotted with seventy islands along with attractive towns and villages, it is a perfect cruising destination. Indeed the name ‘Strangford’ originally only applied to the narrows, whilst the area beyond bore the Irish name Loch Cuan "calm Lough" or “Lough of haven or harbours” describing the shallow still waters and numerous anchoring opportunities in the lee of its host of islands. With little commercial traffic and considerable areas of unobstructed waters, it is also a popular location for yacht racing.

Visiting boatmen are scarcely alone in Strangford Lough. The countless tidal rocky outcrops, called pladdies, Old Norse for 'flat island', littering the Lough and mudflats, along with marshes, rocks, bays and headlands provide a unique natural environment for a huge variety of marine bird and animal life. The Lough hosts common seals, basking sharks and Brent Geese, and three-quarters of the world population of Pale Bellied Brent Geese winter here. It is also an important winter migration destination for many wading and seabirds. The Lough is a conservation area and with its abundant wildlife is recognised internationally for its importance.

Altogether the area is a rare and precious jewel for the cruising boatman. Strangford Harbour and village is not only a great entry point to explore the Lough beyond the Narrows, but is also a pleasant location itself. The harbour is overlooked by rows of 19th-century cottages and a fine Georgian terrace, with a number of restaurants, and many areas of interest immediately ashore.

There is a 16th-century tower house near the harbour called Strangford Castle that still remains an imposing sight. One mile further north-west of Strangford on a rocky height overlooking Strangford Lough is Audley's Castle, a small gatehouse type tower house built in the 15th century.

On the Downpatrick Road, you will find the 18th-century Castle Ward that is an intriguing manor house built in two distinct architectural styles, Classic and Gothic. Set on the shoreline of Strangford Lough it provides superb views across the waters of the Lough. It is owned by the National Trust and open to visitors.

Finally, and further south, the well-preserved Kilclief Castle, that was mentioned earlier as a clearing bearing to pass the ‘Meadows Shoal’, was built in the 15th Century and is one of Ireland's earliest tower houses.


What facilities are available?
Pontoons have water but no electricity. The Cuan Restaurant can arrange diesel. A boat slip is available at the quays, also basic provisions plus, post office, ATM, pubs and restaurants that you would expect with a population of approximately 500, but apart from that there are no specific facilities available for yachtsmen at Strangford Harbour.

The nearest international airport is at Belfast, 56 km. Portaferry, on the Ards Peninsula, is available by a car ferry service that runs every half hour (weather permitting), and a convenient bus service operates to the larger town of Downpatrick which serves as a commercial and administrative centre for the locality.


Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred in Strangford Harbour.


With thanks to:
Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner. Photography with thanks to George Shaw, Tourism Ireland, Mark Rooney and David Doyle.


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




Strangford Harbour, Strangford Lough, County Down, Ireland
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism NI


The Quay area
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism NI


Castle and terraced houses
Image: eOceanic thanks Eric Jones via CC BY-SA 2.0


South side of the New Quay
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism NI


Ferry berth
Image: eOceanic thanks Eric Jones via CC BY-SA 2.0


Ferry berth
Image: eOceanic thanks Eric Jones via CC BY-SA 2.0


Ferry exiting its slip
Image: eOceanic thanks Eric Jones via CC BY-SA 2.0


Cuan Restaurant's pontoon
Image: eOceanic thanks Eric Jones via CC BY-SA 2.0


Northern point of the harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Stephen Colebourne via CC BY-SA 2.0




Strangford Village Aerial




Strangford Village Aerial




Portaferry Strangford Ferry



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