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Ballycastle

Tides and tools
Overview





Ballycastle is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about four miles to the west of Fair Head and tucked into the western corner of Ballycastle Bay. The small town and harbour offers a marina, alongside berths in the outer harbour, or in fair conditions the option to anchor outside the harbour in the bay.

Ballycastle is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about four miles to the west of Fair Head and tucked into the western corner of Ballycastle Bay. The small town and harbour offers a marina, alongside berths in the outer harbour, or in fair conditions the option to anchor outside the harbour in the bay.

The marina is enclosed behind substantial rock breakwaters which give complete protection. The outer harbour is subject to swell from north or north-westerly quadrants and the bay can only be used in settled or offshore conditions. Although clear of strong tidal streams the bay can be subject to sudden swell. The harbour and bay afford safe access in all reasonable conditions at any stage of the tide as there are no dangers in the immediate harbour vicinity and its pierheads have lights.
Please note

The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning in this area. The tidal streams in Rathlin Sound can attain 6.5 knots at springs. For those approaching from the south the roughest water may be experienced between Fair Head and Torr Head, where just off Torr Head the Ebb runs up to 9 knots during Spring tides. However, if the tides have been well studied and embraced, a well-found yacht should have no difficulty sailing this area in conditions of up to Force 4 or 5.




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Keyfacts for Ballycastle



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway 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 locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth 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 approachUrban 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: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



 +44 28 2076 8525      info@moyle-org      Ch.80
Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 12.468' N, 006° 14.348' W

This is in the middle of Ballycastle's outer harbour area.

What is the initial fix?

The following Ballycastle Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 12.460' N, 006° 14.100' W
This is approximately 150 metres east of the lit northern end of Boyd's Breakwater. Track in on 270°, or due west, from here to come south of the northern breakwaters pierhead.


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.

  • Use the Church Bay Click to view haven for general approaches to the area.

  • Pass the North Breakwater well to starboard and continue south until Boyd's Breakwater pierhead, the head of the east facing wall, opens. Pass in between the pierheads.


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 Ballycastle for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Murlough Bay - 2.7 miles E
  2. Ballintoy Harbour - 3.1 miles WNW
  3. Church Bay - 3.3 miles NNE
  4. Torr Head - 3.8 miles E
  5. Cushendun - 5.2 miles SE
  6. Cushendall - 6.4 miles SE
  7. Portballintrae - 6.6 miles W
  8. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 6.6 miles SE
  9. Portrush Harbour - 8.9 miles W
  10. Coleraine - 9.6 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Murlough Bay - 2.7 miles E
  2. Ballintoy Harbour - 3.1 miles WNW
  3. Church Bay - 3.3 miles NNE
  4. Torr Head - 3.8 miles E
  5. Cushendun - 5.2 miles SE
  6. Cushendall - 6.4 miles SE
  7. Portballintrae - 6.6 miles W
  8. Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 6.6 miles SE
  9. Portrush Harbour - 8.9 miles W
  10. Coleraine - 9.6 miles WSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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How to get in?
Ballycastle Harbour as seen from the east
Image: Laverty Architecture


Ballycastle Bay stretches between Kinbane Head and Fair Head and is enclosed to the north by Rathlin Island. The seaside town of Ballycastle is a popular resort situated at the head of the bay. The town is fronted by substantial breakwaters behind which a RoRo service operates to Scotland and there is a large marina in the south side of the harbour.

Ballycastle Harbour as seen from the south
Image: Laverty Architecture


Convergance Point The details provided for Church Bay Click to view haven on Rathlin Island provides directions for general approaches to the area as Church Bay and Ballycastle Bay face each across Rathlin Sound through which both are approached.

The Marina Office is open during most daylight hours P: +44 28 2076 8525, M: +44 780 350 5084 and listens on VHF channel 80. It is requested that berthing arrangements should be made prior to entering the Harbour.


Western Approach Rathlin Sound is clear of outlying hazards with the single exception of one danger in the path of vessels approaching from the west. This is Carrickmannanon Rock off Kinbane Head that is located two and a half miles southeast of Sheep Island and a similar distance from Ballycastle Harbour.



This small rock is steep to on its outer side and lies 800 metres north by northeast of the headland. Carrickmannanon is normally visible as it nearly always breaks and dries to 0.3 of a metre.

Carrickmannanon Rock – rock unmarked position: 55° 14.029' N, 006° 16.909' W

Local vessels will be seen passing inside the rock but newcomers are best advised not to. The tidal streams of Rathlin Sound rip past Carrickmannanon creating an eddy under its lee. This sets strongly back towards the rock and draws a vessel back upon it. Likewise between the rock and the headland heavy overfalls can be expected at various points of the tide. It is, therefore, best to entirely avoid the rock and its immediate surrounds. A sight line of Bengore Head open of Ballintoy Point on 275° T passes more than 800 metres north of Carrickmannanon.

Once past Carrickmannanon a course can be shaped to give Ballycastle’s North Quay pierhead a clearance of approximately 100 metres, where the Ballycastle Initial Fix is situated.


Initial fix location From the initial fix turn to starboard and keep Boyd's Breakwater pierhead, the head of the southern and 175-metre long east facing wall, open to the sheltering and substantial North Pier. The North Pier, passed to starboard, is a large breakwater that carries a light Fl (3) G.6s 6M at its head. On the port side is the Boyd's Breakwater pierhead also with a light Fl (2) R 4s 1M.



Boyd's Breakwater pierhead is obscured by the North Pier until a clearing bearing of 261° T is reached. South of this bearing, the southeast facing entrance can be seen to open between the pierheads. Keep a watchful eye out for boat movements on final approach as the harbour tends to be busy in the season. Deep draft vessels should stand out from the North Pier as there is an area with only 2.2 metres LWS situated 20 metres off the pier head’s southeast-most corner.



Alternatively by night come south immediately offshore of the harbour until Boyd's Breakwater light bears 275°T, or is well open of the north pierhead, and then turn in.

Once south of the outer head of the North Pier, behind the northern breakwater, pass along North Quay that hosts the Campbeltown and Rathlin Island ferry terminals.

Haven location Berthing options include coming alongside in the outer harbour or in the marina which is space constrained and better suited to vessels of l