Cross Roads provides a good anchorage that is protected from almost all winds except from the general ‘Narrows’ exposure, northeast – southeast, with very secure holding out of the main tidal stream. Within ‘The Narrows’ it would require a force six or more from the exposed quadrants to make a location become uncomfortable as there is little or no fetch. Although the entrance to Strangford Lough and ‘Narrows’ is well marked, access requires careful navigation owing to exceptional currents.
Keyfacts for Cross Roads
Summary* Restrictions applyA good location with careful navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 20.952' N, 005° 32.636' W
Upon the alignment track of the Cross Roads anchor beacon and the Tully Hill white pillar beacon where it intersects the nine metre contour.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
Not what you need?
- Kilclief Bay - 0.5 miles SSE
- Strangford Harbour (Strangford Village) - 0.9 miles NNW
- Portaferry - 1.1 miles N
- Audley's Roads - 1.2 miles NNW
- Audley’s Point - 1.5 miles NNW
- Ballyhenry Bay - 1.5 miles NNW
- Chapel Island - 1.7 miles NW
- Between Jackdaw & Chapel Island - 1.8 miles NW
- West of Jackdaw Island - 1.9 miles NW
- South of Salt Island - 2.4 miles WNW
How to get in?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 description.
Continue on this track until Kilclief Castle, on the western shore, bears 265° when the ‘Meadows Shoal’, an area with just over 2 metres of cover, has been safely passed to port.
From there take a mid-channel route up the ‘Narrows’ until the alignment of the Cross Roads anchor beacon on the western shore with the Tully Hill white pillar beacon (on the hill 1000 metres to the west) is reached.
Track into the inner bay on the 260.5° T alignment of the beacons, paying careful attention to steerage when passing from the main tidal streams of the fairway into the comparative slack water of the inner bay.
Anchor in a depth to your preference where you will find excellent holding in muddy gravel that is out of the ‘Narrow’ tidal streams.
Cross Roads is a stay-aboard anchorage as there is no place suitable for landing.
Why visit here?Cross Roads is a historic ‘Narrows’ commercial shipping anchorage for many reasons. It offers direct and immediate access, is out of the Narrows currents with good deep water holding, whilst lying just outside the Strangford Harbour fees area. Today it is an interesting location to await a tide or spend a night in an out-of-the-way location. It also provides an opportunity to anchor in ‘The Narrows’ itself.
Arriving in longboats and broaching these fast flowing waters the Vikings bestowed the name Strangfjörthr or ‘place of strong currents’. This area which is five miles long, five hundred metres wide (at its narrowest point) and up to 60 metres deep, is a natural phenomenon. The twice a day tidal rise of more than three metres pushes 350 million tonnes of water at up to 4 metres a second though this deep constricted channel every six hours.
This made it the perfect location for the world's first commercial tidal power station. Located in the centre of ‘The Narrows’ further north of Cross Roads and about 500 metres south of Portaferry the 1.2 megawatts underwater tidal electricity generator is powerful enough to power up to a thousand homes. Yet the turbine has a minimal environmental impact, as it is almost entirely submerged, and the rotors turn slowly enough that they pose no danger to wildlife.
Another feature of ‘The Narrows’ is ‘The Routen Wheel’. It is located immediately north of Cross Roads and approximately 500 metres south of Rue Point, where the outgoing tidal stream attains its fastest rate of 7.5 knots at springs. This is a series of whirlpools, boils and swirling waters, which is caused by a ledge extension from the point and pinnacles of rock on the seabed. The ‘Routen Wheel’ will be a clearly identifiable seething surface rip, and is much more turbulent on the ebb tide than the flood. Boatmen should take due caution approaching this area of Strangford Narrows.
All of which add up to make the ‘Narrows’ an extraordinary sailing and boat handling experience. More importantly, the ‘Narrows’ is the gateway to Strangford Lough a marine nature reserve of unparalleled beauty that provides a boatman with magnificent world heritage cruising in unspoilt surroundings.
What facilities are available?Cross Roads is a stay-aboard anchorage with nowhere to land and no local facilities.
Any security concerns?Never a problem known to have occurred in Cross Roads.
With thanks to:Brian Crawford, local Strangford Lough boatman of many decades.
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