The marina provides complete protection. With no offlying dangers it affords safe access night or day, at any stage of the tide and in all reasonable conditions.
Keyfacts for Bangor Harbour & Marina
SummaryA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 40.033' N, 005° 40.330' W
The North Breakwater pierhead at the entrance where a large red pillar beacons stands Iso R 12s 9m 14 M
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
- From the north pass Black Head and the Cloghan Jetty to starboard.
- From the east pass north of Mew, Lighthouse and Copeland Island keeping them well clear to port.
- From the south, with a favourable tide, pass between the south side of Copeland Island and the mainland coast through the well-marked Donaghadee Sound shipping fairway.
- Belfast Lough's navigable area is free of dangers and Bangor Bay has no obstructions.
- Round the North Breakwater to port, its western side, proceed in and then turn hard to starboard to come in behind the Pickie Breakwater where the marina is situated.
Not what you need?
How to get in?
Bangor Harbour and town is situated on the southeast side of Belfast Lough and at the head of Bangor Bay. The third most populous settlement in Northern Ireland, Bangor is a large town fronted by a 560 berth marina, that is the largest marina in Ireland, and the headquarters of several sailing clubs. It is a well-known, frequently used and highly regarded sailing centre.
All visiting vessels are required to contact the Marina office and advise them of their intentions before entering the harbour. P: +44 28 9145 3297 VHF: 37/80 Call sign "Bangor Marina" (24 Hours) A continuous watch is maintained on Channel 11 for Bangor Harbour.
The marina receives many visitors and it is best to have a berth secured before commencing the final approach. Moreover, once inside the harbour, the helmsman will be too occupied finding a berth to manage a VHF dialogue so it is best to have made all arrangements in advance.
Vessels approaching from the north will find few hazards from Larne to the south. Deep water will be found close to the shore with no dangers encountered 300 metres from the rocks. The coast to Black Head, the northern extremity of Belfast Lough marked by a lighthouse, presents a steep perpendicular black basaltic cliff.
Blackhead Lighthouse - Fl 3s 45m 27M position: 54° 46.016’N, 005° 41.338’W
South of Black Head the entrance to the Lough opens 6.75 miles wide between the headland and Orlock Point on the south. Its navigable area is free of dangers with an average depth of 11 metres.
Stand well off Cloghan Jetty seen to starboard two miles to the south. This jetty extends out from the north shore for more than half a mile and is lit at the end Fl G 3s 2M. A good mark is to pass to seaward of the green Cloghan Jetty buoy QG situated half a mile beyond the end of the pierhead.
When crossing Belfast Lough the south shore will appear comparatively low and unremarkable except at the bluff at Grey Point which is a 23 metre high point. Bangor’s harbour walls plus the towns dominating steeples will be highly visible whilst tracking down onto the initial fix.
Vessels arriving from the south may either come up outside the Copelands group or through Donaghadee Sound which is situated between the mainland and the Islands. Copeland Sound, the cut between Copeland Island and Lighthouse plus Mew Islands, is best avoided owing to the two challenging and unmarked rocky shoals called ‘Platters’ and ‘Ninaen Bushes’. ‘Ninaen Bushes’, situated out half a mile off from the northeast point of Copeland Island, is particularly dangerous with less than a metre of cover.
Those approaching outside Copeland Islands should leave Mew Island well clear to Port as the island group lies in shoal water much encumbered with rocks.
Mew Island Lighthouse - Fl (4) 30s 37m 24M position: 54° 41.923’N, 005° 30.824’W
There are tidal races in the vicinity of the group that get highly uncomfortable in strong conditions when they should be avoided. These are the ‘Northern Race’ and ‘Ram Race’ that occur at various stages of the tide to the east of Mew and Copeland Islands.
Once past the group, the run into the initial fix is straightforward across Belfast Lough’s open navigable waters that are free of dangers.
Donaghadee Sound is the normal route for leisure craft making along this coast when tidal streams are favourable. Although the sound is almost a mile wide, between Copeland Island and the mainland to the southwest, foul ground called the Magic Rocks extend nearly half way from Copeland Island’s southwest side. Then Deputy Reef, marked by a red buoy, is situated nearly in the middle of the southern fairway. These constrict the channel through the sound to a quarter of a mile in width.
However, this is well marked for vessels entering and exiting Belfast Lough by the buoyed shipping channel. This is marked by four buoys, port marks off the mainland, starboard off Copeland Island.
Vessels addressing Donaghadee Sound should align to pass close to the east of the Governor Buoy. This buoy lies about 0.7 of a mile north of Donaghadee Harbour pier and lighthouse that will be a conspicuous mark on the shore.
Governor Red Can Buoy - Fl R 3s position: 54° 39.360’N, 005° 31.991’W
Deputy Green Can Buoy - Fl G 2s position: 54° 39.513’N, 005° 31.944’W
Pass between the Governor and Deputy buoys and from there realign on the Foreland Buoy again passing it on its eastern side.
Foreland Red Can Buoy - Fl R 6s position: 54° 39.640’N, 005° 32.307’W
Continue northwestward to pass at least 250 metres clear of the area to the north of Orlock Point and well east of Belfast Lough’s South Briggs Red Can Buoy located two and a half miles from the Foreland Buoy. The South Briggs buoy marks a dangerous reef extending from the shore.
South Briggs Red Can Buoy – Fl (2) R 10s position: 54° 41.182’N, 005° 35.732’W
From south, Briggs keep a watch out for Club Racing Buoys whilst crossing Groomsport Bay. Keep off Ballymacormick Point and Luke's Point; the eastern and western headlands of Ballyholme Bay immediately east of Bangor Bay itself. Reefs extend from both headlands and it is advisable to keep 500 metres off Ballymacormick Point, which is particularly foul, and 250 metres off Luke's Point whilst closing on Bangor Harbour’s initial fix. A sharp lookout should also be kept for Racing Marks whilst crossing Ballyholme Bay.
As the initial fix draws closer Bangor Bay will be found to be clear of obstructions and approachable from all directions.
The entrance to the Harbour is between two grey concrete breakwaters. The North Breakwater extending west-northwest from the eastern side and behind is the Pickie Breakwater extending 120 metres from the western shore. Expect to find two unusual dolphins standing off the head of the Pickie Breakwater that carry its lights on fixed Green poles, 2F. G (vert) 3M on the outside.
Round the head of the North Breakwater passing it to port, then continue between the two breakwaters until the marina entrance opens on the starboard side enclosed behind the Pickie Breakwater and Central Pier, QW at the pierhead.
Round the dolphins standing off the head of the Pickie Breakwater by turning sharp to starboard, leave the green pole Fl. G. 3s to starboard continuing into the well-lit marina.
Proceed along the inside between Pickie Breakwater and the ends of pontoons ‘H’, ‘G’ and ‘F’. Then turn hard to port to continue between ‘F’ and the western shoreline. Once the third Fl.G Light comes starboard abeam turn to port for pontoon 'E' where the visitor's berths are located on the south facing fingers.
Yachts may lay alongside the North Breakwater and Central Pier in the outer harbour for a short period of time. The vessel should not be left unattended in the outer harbour, and you should be prepared to move if requested.
Why visit here?Bangor, in Irish Beannchar derives its name from the Gaelic but the precise origin remains uncertain.
Others believe the name is derived from a combination Beanna, the Irish for cliffs, and ancient Norse for 'horned bay', as the shape of Bangor Bay resembles the horns of a bull. Another line of thought believes the name to be derived from the word beann which can mean ‘horn’, ‘point’ or ‘peak’ thought to indicate the sharp rocks around the shoreline. Alternatively this could also refer benn a ‘prong’ with the second element being cor meaning the ‘act of putting, placing; setting up’. This could have beannchar describing the area within the enclosure of a defensive barrier of prongs surrounding a monastic site. This could very well refer to the monastery of Bangor founded by St. Comgall marked by the present Church of Ireland’s ‘Abbey Church’ at the head of the town.
What is clear from the uncertainty is that Bangor has a long and illustrious history that is steeped in legend. Physical evidence of ancient occupation comes in the form of Bronze Age swords unearthed here in 1949. There are the remains of twenty-five raths, ancient Irish forts, around Bangor with the largest being at Rath-Gael that covers two acres and is surrounded by a double vallum.
The Abbey and College prospered for many years until, as with all western European coasts, the abbey and town fell victim to the violent Viking incursions. In 822 Bangor was attacked and overcome by the Danes who ruthlessly massacred the Abbot and nine hundred monks. They desecrated the shrine of St. Comgall and left a trail of desolation behind them. The area remained under continual Viking attack for the following centuries and fell into decline. In 1125 the Abbey was rebuilt by St. Malachy. The new church was a magnificent forty-three metres long building, making it the largest church in Ireland at that time. It was called ‘Pulchro Choro, ‘the fair white Choir’, from the beautiful white stone and lime that was used for the first time in Ulster. It was rebuilt in the 13th century but the tower is 15th-century and a spire was later added in 1693. In 1542 as part of ‘The Dissolution of the Monasteries’, King Henry VIII disbanded the monastery and appropriated its assets and income. Bangor was about to become transformed by its near neighbour, England.
Today Bangor is a large residential commuter town for Belfast and a retail centre. With a population in excess of 75,000, it is the third most populous settlement in Northern Ireland and the largest town in County Down. It is a wonderful seaside resort where the remnants of the town's varied past make for a very interesting visit. Despite the decline of the monastery, its influence can still be observed in the modern town with street names such as Abbots Close, Abbots Walk and many more. It is also marked by its three conspicuous church towers, the Abbey, the First Bangor Presbyterian Church and St Comgalls, and Bangor Parish Church, that greets approaching boaters from seaward long before his navigation aids. All speak of the town's illustrious ecclesiastical past. Bangor Abbey was closed in 1882 in favour of the new larger Church of Ireland in the south of the town. It was renovated in 1917 and traces of the old foundations are still visible today. Today, The Old Custom House alongside the marina hosts the tourist information centre providing an excellent first step into the town’s rich culture and history.
From a boating point of view, Bangor has it all and is a much-used yachting destination. It is close to the Irish Sea cruising routes and plays host to the extensive Bangor Marina, one of the largest and most well-run in Ireland. It offers a well-known safe berth for a passing boatman to attend to repairs, provisioning and to explore the highly attractive towns of Bangor and Belfast. It is also home to the very welcoming Royal Ulster and Ballyholme Yacht clubs.
What facilities are available?Bangor Marina is Northern Ireland's biggest and most prestigious marina offering all facilities 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Visitor pontoons have electricity supply and water. The toilets, showers and a laundry room are situated on the ground floor of Bregenz House with Laundry tokens usage, and washing powder and an iron are available at the Marina office. You will also find a payphone in the amenities corridor in Bregenz House, and BT Openzone wireless broadband access is available for purchase throughout the marina area.
Fuel, Gasoil (red diesel) and unleaded petrol are available on the fuel pontoon 24 hours a day, where a pump out station is also located, please contact the marina office for service. Bottled gas can be obtained at the chandlery and there is a boatyard service on site catering for all repairs, complete with a 50 tons lift out capacity and a slipway for launching smaller boats. For provisions and everything else, the marina is situated at the bottom of the main street of Bangor, a prosperous and well appointed town.
Bangor is just 22 km (13.6 miles) east from the heart of Belfast City Centre on the A2. It has excellent transport connections via trains and bus services which connect to Belfast city and from there on to any location in Ireland. Flights to domestic and international destinations operate from Belfast City and Belfast International Airports. There are frequent ferry crossings from Belfast and Larne.
Any security concerns?Secure access is provided by card or Personal Identification Number (PIN) to operate the Bregenz House door lock. Visitors are provided with a current PIN at the time of registering their visit.
With thanks to:Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner. Photography with thanks to Albert Bridge, Aubrey Dale, Michael Parry, Ryan Kink, Matthew Johnston, Ross, Iker Merodio and Ross.
A promotional video for Bangor marina
Photo montage of the marina and area.
A quick aerial 360° of Bangor Harbour area
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