Ballyhenry Bay provides a good anchorage that is protected from north round to south-east with secure holding out of the main tidal stream. The bay, as with all locations within Strangford ‘Narrows’ is broadly protected from all winds. Within ‘The Narrows’ it would require a force six or more from exposed quadrants to make a location become uncomfortable. The enclosed stretch of water provides shelter sailing in all weather, all tides and has ample marks to make daylight navigation straightforward.
Keyfacts for Ballyhenry Bay
SummaryA good location with careful navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 23.313' N, 005° 33.803' W
Upon the five metre contour inshore of the small craft mooring area marked on the chart.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
Not what you need?
- Audley’s Point - 0.4 miles WSW
- Audley's Roads - 0.4 miles SSW
- Portaferry - 0.5 miles SE
- Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village) - 0.6 miles SSE
- Chapel Island - 0.7 miles WSW
- Between Jackdaw & Chapel Island - 0.8 miles W
- West of Jackdaw Island - 1 miles WSW
- Don O’Neill Island - 1.5 miles NW
- Cross Roads - 1.5 miles SSE
- Holm Bay - 1.7 miles WNW
How to get in?
Attention should be paid to steerage when passing from the main tidal streams of the fairway into the comparative slack water of the anchorage. The tide backs off from a fairway maximum of four and a half to two knots on the outside and less than one on the inside.
You will see about fifteen local yachts that are moored here permanently. Anchor clear of the permanent yacht moorings in the bay off a cottage visible among the trees. The shore of the bay is bordered by a mud flat with depths of about 2.5 metres. Holding is fair to good in boulder clay, rock and shale.
Although the tidal streams reduce the closer to shore that you berth, an anchor watch is advisable at least at the change of tide.
There is a visible gap in the wall that runs around the edge of the road where you can land.
Approaching Ballyhenry Bay from the north pass south-west of the light beacon Q.G.3m 3M that marks the foul ground off Ballyhenry Island. Then take care to avoid the partly submerged wrecks lying off John’s Rock, at the northern side of the bay, before turning in.
Why visit here?Ballyhenry Bay offers an excellent anchorage with access to the village of Portaferry. The village dates from the 12th century when a row of fishermen’s cottages was built beside an Anglo-Norman castle.
Today it is an attractive seaside town with traditional shops, pubs, restaurants and fine Georgian buildings in the town square. Tourist attractions include Exploris, the Northern Ireland Aquarium, with its displays of the local marine wildlife, and the town has also become well-known for the annual Galway Hookers Regatta.
More importantly, Ballyhenry Bay, along with Portaferry and Strangford Harbour (across the ‘Narrows’), are all gateways to Strangford Lough that provide 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 and four miles wide, covering an area of 150 km² it is the largest inlet on the east coast of Ireland. Fringed by beautiful coves, inlets and drumlins, plus 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', while the area beyond bore the Irish name Loch Cuan "calm Lough" or “Lough of haven or harbours” describing the still shallow 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, 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. All of which makes the Lough a conservation area with its abundant wildlife which is recognised internationally for its importance.
What facilities are available?There are no facilities available in Ballyhenry Bay, however it is a very short walk from here into Portaferry. There you will find local amenities including supermarkets, post office, butcher, green grocer, cash machine, hardware supply shop, credit union, bakery, gas, and minor repairers etc. who cater for a local population of almost 3,000. The Health Centre and pharmacy are located in the High Street. Barholm Hostel during office hours offers a launderette.
Any security concerns?Never a problem known to have occurred in Ballyhenry Bay.
With thanks to:Brian Crawford, local Strangford Lough boatman of many decades.
An aerial overview of Strangford Lough.
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