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Brown’s Bay

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Overview





Brown’s Bay is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland close east of the entrance to Larne Lough. The horseshoe-shaped bay is a popular anchorage outside Larne Lough between the northern promontories of Islandmagee peninsula.

Brown’s Bay is a good anchorage especially in conditions with a southerly quadrant, however, it can be subject to swell and any conditions with a northerly component would make the anchorage untenable. In such circumstances, it would be advisable to move a short distance into Larne Lough which is within a couple of miles. Access to the bay is straight-forward at any stage of the tide in daylight as it is completely open to the north.
Please note

Larne Harbour is a busy commercial port and is Northern Ireland's busiest ferry port. There are as many as eight thousand ship movements a year here, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Yachts must keep clear of commercial shipping entering and leaving.




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Keyfacts for Brown’s Bay
Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaPost Office in the areaBus service available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaPost Office in the areaBus service available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 51.300' N, 005° 46.250' W

This an anchoring position within Brown’s Bay’s south-western corner.

What is the initial fix?

The following Brown’s Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 51.900' N, 005° 46.000' W
Half a mile north of the centre of the Bay offset to the Skernaghan Point side – to avoid taking a southern approach close to the rock pit off Skernaghan Point. Come south into the bay from this point.


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.

  • Approaches to bay can be found in the Larne Harbour Click to view haven entry.

  • Track into the middle of the bay staying well clear of the rocky spit extending northward from Skernaghan Point.


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 Brown’s Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Ferris Bay - 0.4 miles WSW
  2. Larne Harbour - 0.6 miles SSW
  3. Portmuck - 1 miles ESE
  4. Ballydowan - 1 miles S
  5. Mill Bay - 1.2 miles SSE
  6. Magheramorne Point - 1.3 miles S
  7. Ballygalley Bay - 2.5 miles NW
  8. Whitehead - 4 miles SSE
  9. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 5.5 miles S
  10. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 5.7 miles NW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Ferris Bay - 0.4 miles WSW
  2. Larne Harbour - 0.6 miles SSW
  3. Portmuck - 1 miles ESE
  4. Ballydowan - 1 miles S
  5. Mill Bay - 1.2 miles SSE
  6. Magheramorne Point - 1.3 miles S
  7. Ballygalley Bay - 2.5 miles NW
  8. Whitehead - 4 miles SSE
  9. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 5.5 miles S
  10. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 5.7 miles NW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try our resources search

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?
Browns Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Brown’s Bay is a small sandy bay on the northern tip of the Islandmagee peninsula between the two rocky promontories of Skenaghan Point and Barrs Point.

Convergance Point Directions for Larne Harbour Click to view haven may be used for approaches.

Vessels approaching Brown’s Bay should take care not to impede commercial traffic approaching Larne. An approaching vessel should make ‘Larne Port Control’ aware of its intentions and they will advise on ship movements, weather, tide, etc. The call sign for the Port of Larne is [Larne Port Control] on VHF Ch. 14, P: +44 28 28 872179.

The Initial fix will be found half a mile north of the centre of the bay. It is offset to the Skernaghan Point side in order to avoid taking a southern approaching vessel close to the rock spit off Skernaghan Point. The foul Skernaghan Point is the northernmost point of Islandmagee and its rocky outcrop that stretches northward from it is the area’s primary danger. A berth of at least 500 metres from Skernaghan Point clears this danger.

Likewise vessels approaching from the west should keep at least 200 metres off the ends of Barr and Ferris Points.



Initial fix location Once the initial fix has been achieved come south by southwest into the bay. Depending on the prevailing wind conditions select either the west or east side of the bay where 2 metres may be found close to either headland or in the centre of the bay. The head of the bay gradually shelves so stay well offshore of the beach. Find a location to make the best of the prevailing conditions and anchor in sand with very good holding.


Land on the beach in the southwest corner of the bay. About half kilometre along the coastline is the Bay’s small shop and post office.


Why visit here?
Brown’s Bay, in Irish Bá an Bhrúnaigh, is believed to have been named after a local farmer called James Brown. Ulster families named Brown would have originated from England or, most likely in this area, Scotland. James Brown was recorded to be living beside the bay in 1683. The Brown name, along with Wilson, remained the most prevalent families in the area for several centuries afterwards. Their deceased dominate the tombstones of Brown’s Bay churchyard that dates back to 1840.

Although its current name dates back to the 7th-century landowning farmer, the peninsula’s history dates back to the Mesolithic period. In 1962 a number of graves with well-preserved skeletons were found at Brown's Bay. A number of other items were found with the bodies that dated the settlement back to 2000 BC. Neolithic houses have been excavated throughout the Islandmagee peninsula and finds include Neolithic pottery, flint arrowheads, javelin heads and polished stone axe fragments. Within 10 minutes’ walk of the bay is the Ballylumford Dolmen, known locally as the "Druids Altar", which is estimated to have been constructed in the same time period.

Today Brown’s Bay is the most popular tourist spot on what is known locally as the “Island”. This refers to Islandmagee as a whole which in truth is a peninsula located between the towns of Larne and Carrickfergus, with Larne Lough separating it from the mainland. The 'Island' is eight miles long and contains scattered farms with quiet lanes fringed by hedgerows that divide the green fields. This sense of history is treasured and guarded by the very friendly local community who are proud of their combined seafaring and farming traditions. The people here are locally called ‘bean eaters’ owing to an old agricultural crop rotation programme in which beans were grown to supply nitrogen to the soil. Like most islanders, they enjoy a self-reliant reputation and reportedly provide more master mariners for its size than any other locality in Ireland. The area has changed little over the years, retaining its own special charm.

Brown’s Bays' principal draw is its beautiful 300-metre long sandy beach nestling between the two rocky promontories of Skenaghan and Barrs points. The rural setting and Islandmagee’s relative remoteness gives the well-protected cove an "away-from-it-all" feeling. It has a popular caravan park run by the council but this has been closed recently for operational reasons. Those with young children aboard will find an excellent safe beach on which to let them loose.

Those who feel like striding out will find an excellent walk out through the 90 acres of open access National Trust property surrounding Skenaghan Point on the tip of Islandmagee. From Brown's Bay beach follow the promenade along to the east and up the stoney path towards Skernaghan Point. This leads into a well-worn ‘right-of-way’ grass path that initially runs through bushes and then opens grazing lands alongside the rocky coastline. Follow the coastline either at sea level or from the vantage of the field at the top. Those following the coastline will pass a local landmark called the ‘Rocking Stone’ along the way. Today it rocks no more as a concrete plinth has been built around it. The only indication that the walk has finished is a fence line. From here the view north across the horizon is truly beautiful.

Five headlands show all the way up the Antrim coastline with Ballygally Head, Park Head and Garron Point easily discernable. One also gets a clear view of the “Maidens rocks” far out in the North Channel, and their two lighthouses, only one of which is now in operation. On the mainland the outer edges of the town of Larne, and the uplands of Agnew’s Hill and Hightown, Sallagh Braes and Scawt Hill are all clearly visible. All the time local seabirds will be feeding around the bays’ rocky coastline. Expect to see cormorants, shag, oystercatchers, curlew and redshank. Return by retracing the outbound track or by walking back on the higher ground that gives a different view. The National Trust property extends a considerable distance inland where it is permitted to cross fields using the stiles provided.

From a purely boating point of view, Brown’s Bay offers a good anchorage with a sandy beach to land upon to enjoy the northern promontories of Islandmagee. It provides easy access to Larne with good coastal walks and some provisioning potential.


What facilities are available?
Public Toilets are available at Brown's Bay and Steele's shop has some provisions plus a post office.

Brown's Bay beach is 6 miles from Carrickfergus using the A2 and B90. There are two bus services to and from Brown's Bay beach each day, route 169. There is a railway station at Ballycarry and from there it is 5 miles to the beach. However, those intending to walk should note that there are no footways on these roads. Whilst traffic is generally not heavy, a 60 mph limit operates on the country roads and there are many blind bends.

A closer alternative is Larne Harbour Station via the small ferry from Ballylumford that takes 5 minutes to cross the mouth of the lough. There is a footway for all of the 1.6 KM (1 mile) journey, and traffic is light from Brown's Bay to Ballylumford where the small passenger ferry departs. The small ferry takes no more than 12 people and booking is essential P +44 28 2827 3785.


Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred in Brown’s Bay.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades. Photography with thanks to Don McCluney, Albert Bridge, Mary and Angus Hogg, Robert Ashby, Aubrey Dale, Kyle and Wilson Adams.


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

































A flyover of Brown's Bay with motor and wind noise



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