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Donaghadee Harbour

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Overview





Donaghadee Harbour is located on the northeast coast of Ireland immediately outside the southern entrance to Belfast Lough and one and a half miles south of Copeland Island. It is a small fishing port that offers an open harbour where vessels may berth alongside the pier.

Donaghadee Harbour is located on the northeast coast of Ireland immediately outside the southern entrance to Belfast Lough and one and a half miles south of Copeland Island. It is a small fishing port that offers an open harbour where vessels may berth alongside the pier.

In offshore or settled conditions, with the absence of scend, the harbour offers a tolerable berth. It should be avoided in even the most moderate of easterly conditions. Onshore winds create a heavy scend that wraps around the inner harbour. Access is straightforward night or day, at any stage of the tide.
Please note

Visitor berths are limited here and are mostly occupied in the season. Those who berth here should keep a keen weather eye out for any onshore winds as the wide open entrance admits the swell so freely that it quickly becomes either inconvenient or too rough to lie alongside the pier.




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Keyfacts for Donaghadee Harbour



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore 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 areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Berth 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

Considerations
Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: harbour fees may be charged



HM  +44 28 9188 2377      Ch.16, 68
Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 38.707' N, 005° 31.860' W

The position of Donaghadee Lighthouse, a white tower Iso WR 4s 16m 18/14M, standing on the head of the south pier.

What is the initial fix?

The following Donaghadee Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 39.000' N, 005° 31.180' W
Half a mile out from the middle of the pierheads on a bearing of 234° off Donaghadee Church, 600 metres further inshore. Tracking in from here on a bearing of 234°, keeping the church between the pierheads, is the preferred line of approach.


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 south and east pass leave Mew and Copeland Islands well clear to starboard.

  • From the north or Belfast Lough, with a favourable tide, pass between the south side of Copeland Island and the mainland coast in the well-marked fairway channel.

  • Track in on a bearing of 234° T keeping Donaghadee Church between the pierheads of the entrance.


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 Donaghadee Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Copelands Marina - 0.2 miles SSE
  2. Chapel Bay - 1 miles N
  3. Port Dandy - 1.2 miles NNW
  4. Groomsport - 2.2 miles WNW
  5. Ballyholme Bay - 2.8 miles WNW
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.1 miles WNW
  7. Ballywalter - 3.9 miles SSE
  8. Helen’s Bay - 4.5 miles WNW
  9. Whitehead - 5.5 miles NW
  10. Kircubbin - 5.7 miles S
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Copelands Marina - 0.2 miles SSE
  2. Chapel Bay - 1 miles N
  3. Port Dandy - 1.2 miles NNW
  4. Groomsport - 2.2 miles WNW
  5. Ballyholme Bay - 2.8 miles WNW
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.1 miles WNW
  7. Ballywalter - 3.9 miles SSE
  8. Helen’s Bay - 4.5 miles WNW
  9. Whitehead - 5.5 miles NW
  10. Kircubbin - 5.7 miles S
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



How to get in?


Donaghadee Harbour is formed by a handsome cut stone South Pier that runs out northwestward from the rocky foreshore at the south side of the bay in front of the town. On its northern side is a single tidal basin that is sheltered to the northwest by an independent and isolated North Pier of similar construction.

Unusually the North Pier is detached from the mainland and acts more as an isolated breakwater whilst the south extends from the shoreline. Both run parallel nearer the shore and converge to a width of 46 metres at the harbour’s east-northeast opening entrance.


Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the east should stay outside and south of the islands, leave Mew and Copeland Islands well clear to starboard, and then the run into the harbour will be unobstructed.
Please note

Avoid where possible the ‘Northern Race’ and ‘Ram Race’ that occur at various stages of the tide to the east of the islands. They can be uncomfortable in strong conditions.




Northern Approach Vessels approaching from the north may pass outside the islands, as described above, or through Donaghadee Sound. Copeland Sound, however, 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.

Donaghadee Sound is situated between the south side of Copeland Island and the mainland coast. The dangers of this route are the hazards that surround Copeland Island and attention needs to be paid to the Foreland Spit.

However the sound is a mile wide and a fairway channel marked by lighted buoys, with a charted depth of no less than 6 metres, leads through the sound. This makes Donaghadee Sound the normal leisure craft route making their way along this coast, provided tidal streams are favourable. Donaghadee Sound streams achieve 4.5 knots in places so tidal planning is essential and great care should be taken during the passage. The tidal current in this sound sets almost in the direction of the channel. Beware of heavy rips, with overfalls at times, particularly in the constriction close northeast of the Foreland Spit buoy.

Vessels cutting into Donaghadee Sound around Copeland Island from the north will encounter the most dangerous unmarked rocks off Copeland Island, particularly Rid Rock off the west side of Chapel Bay. A drying area extends a quarter of a mile southward from Copeland Island’s south-westernmost point. This terminates at the continually exposed 1 metre high Carn Point. Foul ground then extends a further 200 metres southward from Carn Point to the covered Rid Rock. This is particularly dangerous during the southeast going stream that sets on to Rid Rock. Therefore vessels approaching Donaghadee Sound from the north are best advised to take the shipping channel through the middle of the sound by aligning on the Foreland Buoy.

Vessels passing through Donaghadee Sound should pass well to starboard of Belfast Lough’s South Briggs Red Can Buoy and at least 250 metres clear of the area to the north of Orlock Point. Then continue southeast into the shipping channel through the middle of Donaghadee Sound. This is marked by four buoys, port marks off the mainland, starboard off Copeland Island.

The first mark to steer for is the Foreland Red Can Buoy located two miles southeast of Orlock Point. This marks the very dangerous Foreland Spit.

Foreland Red Can Buoy - Fl R 6s position: 54° 39.640’N, 005° 32.307’W

Pass the Foreland buoy on its eastern side and realign to pass west of the Deputy starboard buoy. Continue southeast to pass between the Deputy and Governor buoys.

Deputy Green Can Buoy - Fl G 2s position: 54° 39.513’N, 005° 31.944’W

Governor Red Can Buoy - Fl R 3s position: 54° 39.360’N, 005° 31.991’W

Donaghadee Harbour lies about 0.7 of a mile south of the Governor Buoy and the same distance southeast of Foreland Point. It is made readily identifiable by its substantial lighthouse and piers.


Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south should stay a mile offshore in the vicinity of Ballyferis Point. Closer approaches keeping 600 metres out from the shoreline, or on the 20-metre contour or deeper, clears all dangers.


Initial fix location From the initial fix Donaghadee Lighthouse, a white tower Iso WR 4s 16m 18/14M standing on the head of the south pier, will be clearly visible. At night it shows a sectored light Red 326°-shore, White-326°.

Donaghadee Harbour - Iso.W.R. 4s 17m W.18/R.14M position: 54° 38.7´ N, 005° 31.8´ W

Track in on a bearing of 234° T, keeping Donaghadee Church, 600 further metres inshore, between the pierheads, all the way in.

This path clears outlying rocks that have from 0.9 to 2.4 metres of water over them. These extend 200 metres from the pier heads both to the north and south of the entrance. Make particular note of ‘The Wee Scotchman Rocks’ sunken ledge with less than 2 metres in places that extends 300 metres east-northeast from the South Pier, where Donaghadee Lighthouse stands.
Please note

When approaching the entrance be prepared for a strong cross tide making it advisable to use power. The blanketing effect from the tall piers may also stall a vessel entering under sail.






Haven location Once between the piers turn hard to port as the single visitor berth is to be found immediately inside and to the southeast at the end of the South Pier. Alongside depths from 2.1 to 2.7 metres may be found at low water over a 30 metre stretch of the pier.

Local boats moor stern-to on running moorings along the wall further in. Beyond this, the harbour gradually shelves to the foreshore that shows a clean sandy beach. It dries out as far as the inner end of the north pier.



If the harbour becomes uncomfortable, or an adverse weather forecast is received, it is recommended that an approach be made to the harbour master for advice regarding the availability of berths in separately administered and privately owned Copelands Marina. This is a very well protected but often overcrowded marina six hundred metres to the south.


Why visit here?
Donaghadee derives its name from the Gaelic"Domhnach Daoi" of which the original meaning is a little uncertain today.



What is clear is the initial Domhnach part of its name is derived from an early term for ‘church’. Borrowed from Latin dominicum it has traditionally been associated with St. Patrick and Ireland’s Early Christian period. This would indicate that a church was established here during these times but no evidence of its existence remains today. It is the latter Daoi part of the name where the uncertainty exists. Some believe it is derived from the Irish word Díth, or Domhnach Díth ‘church of loss’ alluding to the dangerous seaway immediately offshore. Others believe it might be the church of a Saint David, the 6th-century bishop of the Welsh, whose Welsh name Dewi is very close to Daoi.


The most likely origin is thought to be based on the word daoi meaning ‘embankment, moat or house’. It is thought likely that this refers to Donaghadee’s medieval Anglo-Norman Motte. This is situated on the high ground overlooking the town and is the area’s earliest known and remaining structure. If this is the correct origin, that the name stems from Domhnach Daoi 'church of the motte', it would appear to date to Anglo-Norman times rather than the Early Christian period. The Motte, or the Moat as it is known, remains one of the town’s most prominent features. It was initially used as a defensive structure, and provided an excellent look-out post over the town and seawards towards the Copeland Islands. Apart from this, little else is recorded of the immediate area or the town until it was planted by Sir Hugh Montgomery in the 17th Century.




Being the closest point to Scotland, on most days the Scottish coast is visible to the naked eye, a small jetty had been built and maintained as the result of a 1616 Royal Warrant. The jetty’s size limited travel between the Ards, the Rhins of Galloway and Portpatrick, that was also owned by Montgomery, so he built a small harbour here in 1626 that was subsequently improved upon in 1640. By 1711 ownership of the town belonged to the Delacherois family. Daniel Delacherois renovated Montgomery’s original harbour between 1775 and 1785 and this structure remained until the completion of the new harbour.

The foundation stone of the new harbour was laid by the Marquis of Downshire on 1 August 1821. This deep water harbour was constructed to support the Irish Mail Packet service to Portpatrick, Scotland, 7 miles to the northeast. The initial plans and surveys for this ambitious undertaking had been made by John Rennie Senior, the celebrated engineer whose works included Waterloo, Southwark and London Bridges over the Thames. However, he died within two months of beginning the work, and was succeeded by his son, John, later Sir John Rennie. Rennie had as his resident engineer a fellow Scot, David Logan, who assisted Robert Stevenson with the Bell Rock Lighthouse. Donaghadee’s curves are not only a triumph of stone carving but have all the hallmarks of the advance thinking that went into the legendary Bell Rock Lighthouse.


The new harbour had to have greater depth to accommodate steam packets that catered for the flourishing mail and ferry traffic. This required significant rock to be blasted from the seabed within the harbour area and further south in what became known as the Quarry Hole at Meetinghouse Point. The castellated powder house structure standing in the Motte was built in 1818 to house the explosives required for the blasting. The final harbour consisted of two independent piers running north-westwards out to sea; parallel nearer the shore, they converge at the outer ends to form a harbour mouth 150 feet (46 metres) wide. At low tide, the water offered the steam packet fifteen feet of water (4.5 metres).


For decades the ferry service went back and forth across the narrow North Channel to Portpatrick, 19 miles distant on the opposite coast of Scotland. This was a critical factor in the development of the town. Up until the middle of the 19th-century, it served as the major point of entry from the United Kingdom’s mainland to the island of Ireland. By then sail was beginning to give way to steam and with the new and more reliable technology the crossing route was revised. Then the least disruptive arrangement, rather than the shortest crossing, became the deciding factor. As such the Irish port was moved to Larne and its corresponding Scottish port moved to Stranraer in 1850. The new ports were accessible to steam driven boats and much more protected.


Though the hustle and bustle of the Packet Ship departed Donaghadee the town was left with a magnificent harbour, and hotels and boarding houses turned that into an advantage. By this time the town was linked by rail to Belfast. As Belfast grew, the increasingly prosperous merchants of the city were attracted to the idea of holidays by the sea. Where better than the short and convenient ride out to Donaghadee with its dry climate and invigorating atmosphere? So as the 19th century progressed into the 20th, Donaghadee was transformed into a Victorian-Edwardian seaside resort of new hotels and fashionable dwellings.


But Donaghadee Harbour retained a measure of its seagoing legacy in the actions of its lifeboat station. Founded in 1910 it became one of the most important and decorated on the Irish coast. Notably in January 1953 the lifeboat Sir Samuel Kelly rescued thirty-two of the forty-four survivors in the Irish Sea from the stricken Larne–Stranraer car ferry, MV Princess Victoria. Later, in 1979 when stationed at Courtmacsherry in County Cork, the same lifeboat was involved in rescuing participants in the Fastnet race. The Sir Samuel Kelly has now been preserved and is on display at Donaghadee, standing near the harbour and her modern-day counterpart.


Variously described as 'Port of Newtownards' and 'The Dover of Ireland’, the town is probably best known today for its lighthouse and harbour. The two massive stone piers stand today as relics to the former importance of the harbour when it was the terminal. The historic town also speaks of its past with architecture reflecting its phases of development, the occasional medieval and Jacobean remnants with a core of late Georgian buildings, and a predominance of late Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The town boasts a notable pub, Grace Neill's, that is reputed to be the oldest pub in Ireland. Opened in 1611, as the ’King’s Arms’, Peter the Great is claimed to have been a visitor in 1697. The castellated structure in the ancient Anglo-Norman Motte provides a good vantage point over the town’s picturesque seafront, the Scottish coast to the east on a clear day, and views across Belfast Lough to the north.


Donaghadee has changed little in the past century, it calmly retains its charm and character in a fast-changing world, thus making for a wonderful visit for the cruising boatman.


What facilities are available?
Water, diesel, and electricity are all available at the south pier and some repairs are available locally. Donaghadee is very convenient as shops, pubs and restaurants, that serve the local population in excess of six thousand, are easily reached within a small area local to the harbour. Donaghadee Sailing Club welcomes visitors and is open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The harbour is about 29 km (18 miles) from Belfast and about 13 km (8 miles) northeast of Newtownards. A bus service is available to Belfast which offers connections to any location in Ireland. Likewise flights to domestic and international destinations operate from Belfast City and Belfast International Airports.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred at Donaghadee.


With thanks to:
Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner. Photography with thanks to Mattrhysmic, Stephen, Albert Bridge, Shaun Dunphy, Matthew Johnston, Aubrey Dale, Ross, David Bolton, Rossographer, Caroline and Paisley Scotland.


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






























Aerial views of Donaghadee and Copeland Island




Donghadee Harbour on a still day


About Donaghadee Harbour

Donaghadee derives its name from the Gaelic"Domhnach Daoi" of which the original meaning is a little uncertain today.



What is clear is the initial Domhnach part of its name is derived from an early term for ‘church’. Borrowed from Latin dominicum it has traditionally been associated with St. Patrick and Ireland’s Early Christian period. This would indicate that a church was established here during these times but no evidence of its existence remains today. It is the latter Daoi part of the name where the uncertainty exists. Some believe it is derived from the Irish word Díth, or Domhnach Díth ‘church of loss’ alluding to the dangerous seaway immediately offshore. Others believe it might be the church of a Saint David, the 6th-century bishop of the Welsh, whose Welsh name Dewi is very close to Daoi.


The most likely origin is thought to be based on the word daoi meaning ‘embankment, moat or house’. It is thought likely that this refers to Donaghadee’s medieval Anglo-Norman Motte. This is situated on the high ground overlooking the town and is the area’s earliest known and remaining structure. If this is the correct origin, that the name stems from Domhnach Daoi 'church of the motte', it would appear to date to Anglo-Norman times rather than the Early Christian period. The Motte, or the Moat as it is known, remains one of the town’s most prominent features. It was initially used as a defensive structure, and provided an excellent look-out post over the town and seawards towards the Copeland Islands. Apart from this, little else is recorded of the immediate area or the town until it was planted by Sir Hugh Montgomery in the 17th Century.




Being the closest point to Scotland, on most days the Scottish coast is visible to the naked eye, a small jetty had been built and maintained as the result of a 1616 Royal Warrant. The jetty’s size limited travel between the Ards, the Rhins of Galloway and Portpatrick, that was also owned by Montgomery, so he built a small harbour here in 1626 that was subsequently improved upon in 1640. By 1711 ownership of the town belonged to the Delacherois family. Daniel Delacherois renovated Montgomery’s original harbour between 1775 and 1785 and this structure remained until the completion of the new harbour.

The foundation stone of the new harbour was laid by the Marquis of Downshire on 1 August 1821. This deep water harbour was constructed to support the Irish Mail Packet service to Portpatrick, Scotland, 7 miles to the northeast. The initial plans and surveys for this ambitious undertaking had been made by John Rennie Senior, the celebrated engineer whose works included Waterloo, Southwark and London Bridges over the Thames. However, he died within two months of beginning the work, and was succeeded by his son, John, later Sir John Rennie. Rennie had as his resident engineer a fellow Scot, David Logan, who assisted Robert Stevenson with the Bell Rock Lighthouse. Donaghadee’s curves are not only a triumph of stone carving but have all the hallmarks of the advance thinking that went into the legendary Bell Rock Lighthouse.


The new harbour had to have greater depth to accommodate steam packets that catered for the flourishing mail and ferry traffic. This required significant rock to be blasted from the seabed within the harbour area and further south in what became known as the Quarry Hole at Meetinghouse Point. The castellated powder house structure standing in the Motte was built in 1818 to house the explosives required for the blasting. The final harbour consisted of two independent piers running north-westwards out to sea; parallel nearer the shore, they converge at the outer ends to form a harbour mouth 150 feet (46 metres) wide. At low tide, the water offered the steam packet fifteen feet of water (4.5 metres).


For decades the ferry service went back and forth across the narrow North Channel to Portpatrick, 19 miles distant on the opposite coast of Scotland. This was a critical factor in the development of the town. Up until the middle of the 19th-century, it served as the major point of entry from the United Kingdom’s mainland to the island of Ireland. By then sail was beginning to give way to steam and with the new and more reliable technology the crossing route was revised. Then the least disruptive arrangement, rather than the shortest crossing, became the deciding factor. As such the Irish port was moved to Larne and its corresponding Scottish port moved to Stranraer in 1850. The new ports were accessible to steam driven boats and much more protected.


Though the hustle and bustle of the Packet Ship departed Donaghadee the town was left with a magnificent harbour, and hotels and boarding houses turned that into an advantage. By this time the town was linked by rail to Belfast. As Belfast grew, the increasingly prosperous merchants of the city were attracted to the idea of holidays by the sea. Where better than the short and convenient ride out to Donaghadee with its dry climate and invigorating atmosphere? So as the 19th century progressed into the 20th, Donaghadee was transformed into a Victorian-Edwardian seaside resort of new hotels and fashionable dwellings.


But Donaghadee Harbour retained a measure of its seagoing legacy in the actions of its lifeboat station. Founded in 1910 it became one of the most important and decorated on the Irish coast. Notably in January 1953 the lifeboat Sir Samuel Kelly rescued thirty-two of the forty-four survivors in the Irish Sea from the stricken Larne–Stranraer car ferry, MV Princess Victoria. Later, in 1979 when stationed at Courtmacsherry in County Cork, the same lifeboat was involved in rescuing participants in the Fastnet race. The Sir Samuel Kelly has now been preserved and is on display at Donaghadee, standing near the harbour and her modern-day counterpart.


Variously described as 'Port of Newtownards' and 'The Dover of Ireland’, the town is probably best known today for its lighthouse and harbour. The two massive stone piers stand today as relics to the former importance of the harbour when it was the terminal. The historic town also speaks of its past with architecture reflecting its phases of development, the occasional medieval and Jacobean remnants with a core of late Georgian buildings, and a predominance of late Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The town boasts a notable pub, Grace Neill's, that is reputed to be the oldest pub in Ireland. Opened in 1611, as the ’King’s Arms’, Peter the Great is claimed to have been a visitor in 1697. The castellated structure in the ancient Anglo-Norman Motte provides a good vantage point over the town’s picturesque seafront, the Scottish coast to the east on a clear day, and views across Belfast Lough to the north.


Donaghadee has changed little in the past century, it calmly retains its charm and character in a fast-changing world, thus making for a wonderful visit for the cruising boatman.

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:
Copelands Marina - 0.2 miles SSE
Ballywalter - 3.9 miles SSE
Ballyhalbert Bay - 6.1 miles SSE
Portavogie Harbour - 7.3 miles SSE
Portaferry - 9.9 miles S
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Chapel Bay - 1 miles N
Port Dandy - 1.2 miles NNW
Groomsport - 2.2 miles WNW
Ballyholme Bay - 2.8 miles WNW
Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.1 miles WNW

Navigational pictures


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




























Aerial views of Donaghadee and Copeland Island




Donghadee Harbour on a still day



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