Foyle Port Marina provides complete protection and shelter from all conditions. The well-marked commercial shipping channel, supported by a lighthouse with sectored light, provides safe access in all reasonable conditions, night and day. Although tidal streams are occasionally strong they abate as a vessel progresses inside the Lough making the pontoon approachable at all states of the tide.
Keyfacts for Foyle Port Marina (Derry City)
SummaryA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position55° 0.421' N, 007° 19.063' W
This is the north-eastern end of the River Foyle Marina pontoon.
What are the initial fixes?The following waypoints will set up a final approach:
(i) Lough Foyle South Channel Initial Fix
55° 11.760' N, 006° 57.084' W
Midway between the shore and the southern edge of the Tuns Bank in the narrowest part of the South Channel in approximately 10 metres of water.
(ii) Lough Foyle North Channel Initial Fix
55° 14.155' N, 006° 53.700' W
One mile east of Inishowen Head and 400 metres northwest of Red Tuns Light (port hand) Buoy F1. R.3s. It is set on the 222°T line of bearing of the Martello tower on Magilligan Point that leads into the North Channel.
What are the key points of the approach?
- Lough Foyle may be entered via its well-marked commercial North Channel or the unmarked South Channel that passes between the Macgilligan beaches and the Tuns Bank. The latter provides a convenient daytime shortcut from the east and may be advantageous on an ebb tide.
- Within the lough, follow the well-marked commercial channel leading along its northwest shoreline to the mouth of the River Foyle.
- Continue upriver to pass under the Foyle Bridge and proceed to the city.
Not what you need?
How to get in?
Foyle Port Marina is situated in the centre of Derry city which is the most important city and port along this coast. It provides berths for leisure boat users adjacent to all the facilities of the historic fourth largest city in Ireland. The city is situated about 19 miles inland on the River Foyle and reached through Lough Foyle.
The city is subject to a masthead height restriction of 32 metres by the Foyle Bridge. Vessels of any airdraft will not be able to pass above the ‘Peace Bridge’ that spans the Foyle at the city centre but low airdraft vessels can continue upriver for 16 miles to Strabane.
Vessels approaching from the northwest will require careful advance planning to round Malin Head, Ireland’s northernmost point. Here the mainland shoreline is bold, jagged, fringed by outlying rocks, and there are outlying rocky island groups amidst the Atlantic Ocean colliding with the runs of the Irish coastal tides.
Once passed Glengad Head, less than ten miles southeast of Malin Head, to Inishowen Head around which Lough Foyle approached, the coast is steep-to and free from danger. 20 metres of water will be found a quarter of a mile off and a berth of 300 metres off the shore clears all dangers in this area. Vessels approaching from the west or north will naturally feed into the North Channel.
Vessels approaching from the east will find few hazards from the entrance to Lough Foyle as far east as Portrush. There are some outlying rocks after Portstewart, but there are no hidden dangers beyond a quarter of a mile from the shoreline. A berth of at least 600 metres will keep a vessel well clear of this.
From Portstewart, the shoreline is composed of rocky precipices rising to Mount Benevenagh’s 396-metre summit a short distance inland. For the final nine miles leading to the low and sandy promontory of Magilligan Point, the entire coastline is fronted by magnificent sandy beaches of Downhill, Castlerock and Benone. With the exception of the Tuns Bank, this passage is clear of any danger 400 metres offshore of the shoaling beach. The prison at Magilligan is brightly lit and visible at night well out to sea. The charted military firing range is seldom used and unlikely to prevent boat movements along the coast.
Easterly approaching vessels may use the North Channel but also have the alternative South Channel approach option that can cut out sea miles.
Vessels converging on Lough Foyle will find Inishowen Head conspicuous for many miles to seaward. The head’s abrupt precipice is free from dangers extending more than 300 metres offshore and it is well marked. Likewise, the opposite distinctive 384 metres high scarp of Binevenagh, standing inshore of the low sandy Magilligan promontory, will be seen for many miles out to sea.
Lough Foyle has two primary approach options, the North and South Channels with an initial fix provided for each option.
The North Channel is the main shipping channel. It is situated between the Tuns Bank on the east, to port, and Donegal’s Inishowen shore on the west. It is deep, steep-to on both sides, well-marked and ¾ of a mile wide. The Tuns Bank is a triangular area of sand that extends about 3 miles in a north-easterly direction from the Macgilligan shore. Its highest part is near the southern edge which is steep-to on the west side. Some years this ridge dries to as much as a metre and other years it remains covered, but its position is fixed. It runs nearly parallel to the opposite Inishowen shore with, at the very least, breakers making its location visible. Its northeast tip is marked by a port-hand buoy with least depths of 2 to 3 metres of water for the vast majority of the distance out to this mark. At night, in poor visibility or in heavy onshore weather the North Channel provides the safer approach to Lough Foyle.
The South Channel is also convenient for vessels attempting to enter against the ebb with offshore winds. The tide can attain up to 3.5 knots at springs in the narrows between Greencastle and Magilligan Point. Moreover in a strong north to northeast blow over the ebb a steep ‘wind over tide’ sea rises that can extend up to two miles to seaward of Inishowen Head. This makes the South Channel an alternative approach to avoid this, even for vessels approaching from the north and northwest. This adverse tide can be further minimised by anchoring off Magilligan Strand to await the flood.
Those choosing to enter by the North Channel should first head for the Lough Foyle Buoy, a safe water pillar buoy located two miles to the northeast of Inishowen Head.
Lough Foyle Buoy - L Fl 10s position: 55° 15.322’N, 006° 52.616’W
Once Inishowen Head is abeam, make for the Lough Foyle North Channel initial fix. This is set close to the Tuns buoy and tracks in southwest on the 222° T line of bearing of the Magilligan Point Martello tower.
Tuns Buoy - F1 R 3 position: 55° 14.004’N, 006° 53.440’W
Half a mile south of Inishowen Head on Dunagree Point, Inishowen Lighthouse is situated.
Inishowen - Lighthouse Fl (2) WRG 10s2 8m 18/14M position: 55° 13.556’N, 006° 55.749’W
Locally known as Shrove or Stroove Lighthouse it is a substantial white tower with two black bands. By night Inishowen Lighthouse provides a sectored light support for the commercial channel as follows; White 211° to 249° T over the approach from the northeast and the fairway buoy, R14M 249° to 360° T over the Tuns Bank to the east, G14M from 197 to 211° T to the north.
Continuing south in this channel leads past unlit Metal Man, a green and white triangular metal beacon on Bluick Rock, that is passed to starboard. Then opposite the Tuns Bank shallowest section is the Warren Lighthouse, a mile and a quarter to the southwest of Inishowen Lighthouse, on the north side of the entrance. This is a white round tower with a green abutment showing a visible white light 232°-061° T.
Warren - Lighthouse Fl.W.1.5s 11m 4M position: 55° 12.600’N, 006° 57.100’W
Lough Foyle is then entered between Magilligan Point and the Inishowen shore. Magilligan Point's shape is subject to change depending upon the level of storm activity in the preceding winter.
Magilligan Point - Red pile structure Q.R. 7m 4M position: 55° 11.730´N, 006° 58.055´W
Greencastle Harbour on the northwest side shows a light Fl R 3s.
Those choosing to enter by the South Channel should come inshore from the east and approach along the coast at a distance off of about 600 metres whilst making for the Lough Foyle South Channel initial fix.
This is situated in the narrowest part of the South Channel, about midway between Benone Strand on the shore and the southern edge of the Tuns Bank, in approximately 10 metres of water. Half a mile before Magilligan, come closer inshore to a distance off of 400 metres, to make way through the final cut south of the Tuns Bank.
Once Magilligan Point is abeam it is safe to turn and proceed into Lough Foyle between Macgilligan Point and the Inishowen shore.
Inside the entrance Lough Foyle is thirteen miles long, six miles wide and largely occupied by shallows. A commercial channel leads along its northwest shoreline to the mouth of the River Foyle. The Lough marks the border between the jurisdictions of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The havens of the southeast shoreline, Magilligan Point , Derry and Culmore Bay are in Northern Ireland. Close north of Culmore Point the border meets the lough shore where the havens of the northwest shoreline of Carrickarory Pier , Moville , Greencastle , Silver Strand , Cornashamma Bay , White Bay and Portnocker are in the Republic.
Upon arrival in the lough, if it has not already been attended to, visitors are requested to contact Harbour Radio; open 24 hours P: +44 28 7186 0313, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, VHF: Channel 14 call sign [Londonderry Harbour] plus keep a listening watch while navigating in Lough Foyle. The harbour office will direct visiting boats, including day users, to stop at the harbour office at Foyle Port Lisahally situated close to the mouth of the Foyle River. As Foyle Port Marina is entirely unmanned, harbour dues, access keys, plus tokens for shore power, are paid and collected at Lisahally.
Once arrangements are complete it is simply a matter of following the northwest shoreline for two to three miles to Moville and Carrickarory Pier area for the first section of the passage. There is plenty of room.
From abreast of Greencastle to Moville, the channel runs between McKenny’s Bank and the Inishowen shore. The channel here is half a mile wide with at least 12 metres depth. The northeast head of the McKinney's Bank is marked by a pile structure that must be passed to port.
McKinney's Bank - Red pile structure Fl.R. 5s position: 55° 11.285´ N, 007° 00.070´ W
Moville Light beacon – Fl WR. 2.5s 11m 4M position: 55°11.993'N, 007°02.129'W
From here proceed to pass between the Inishowen shoreline and the North Middle Bank. This bank is marked on its northeastern head by the Saltpans marker, 5 Red piles and a white superstructure, which should be passed on its north side and the vessels port side.
Saltpans – Red Pile Structure Fl.R. 2.5s 4m 3M 55° 10.520´ N, 007° 03.140´ W
Continue on following the prolific markers to enter the West Channel to the north of The Great Bank that leads to Lisahally and the Foyle River estuary. This then continues along between the north shore and Great Bank, tracking between the port and starboard hand pile beacons Fl R and Fl G for a distance of about seven and a half miles to a position southeast of Culmore Point Light beacon.
During this run transiting boats should take care not to impede commercial traffic in the channel. In its narrowest sections, it reduces to 50 metres wide making it a highly restricted waterway for commercial traffic. Large vessels will be channel bound, have right of way and have no capability to manoeuvre. Pleasure craft will find plenty of deep water close to the marks but should not stray outside the lines of the beacons as the depth reduces rapidly on either side of the marks. Leisure craft should navigate the channel to the starboard side in and out.
Culmore Point Light beacon is a green round tower with a black base that stands at the entrance to Culmore Bay and the River Foyle. A conspicuous spire, situated 1,500 metres to the west of the point will be seen on approach. A 95-metre high power pylon carrying an overhead power cable across the river, close east of the point, restricts the river’s safe overhead clearance to 39 metres here.
Culmore Point - Fl Q.W. 6m 3M position: 55° 02.780´N, 007° 15.245´ W
On the east side of the river the Du Pont Jetty will be seen and then the Lisahally Terminal commercial sections of the port at the mouth of the Foyle River. Derry city quays are no longer used for commercial traffic and all commercial shipping is catered for here including berthing arrangements for the unmanned Foyle Port Marina. To pick up the pontoon access card and arrange payment come alongside at the fish quay pontoon at the southwest end of the Lisahally Terminal. The office is situated on the quay less than 100 metres from here.
Once berthing arrangements have been attended to the final stretch to the city quays is via the Foyle River with wooded banks on either side. The channel tends in a south-westerly direction for three miles and has a least width of 91 metres, half the amount available at the pontoon area, and is very well marked. The Foyle Bridge, with a clearance of 32 metres, spans the river just under two miles to the southwest of Lisahally. The city cathedral, on the summit of the hill, is a conspicuous landmark from the river and may be seen from most parts of Lough Foyle.
A speed restriction of 6 knots applies generally in the River Foyle, reducing to a limit of 4 knots in the vicinity of the visitor pontoon, and tidal streams are fairly strong in parts of the river.
The Foyle Port Marina is situated on the west side of the harbour below the new ‘Peace Bridge’. It is made up of two pontoons; an original 200 metres and a second 100-metre pontoon being added in 2012. There is adequate depth on either side of the pontoon with up to 7 metres on the outside and 5 metres on the inside at low water.
Half a mile upriver from the Foyle Port Marina, the Peace Bridge and a further half a mile to the south The Craigavon Bridge have restricted airdraft of 3.7 and 1.2 metres respectively. Vessels that can pass under these bridges will find the River Foyle navigable to Strabane.
Why visit here?Derry, officially Londonderry, is a city that is subject to a naming dispute between Irish nationalists and unionists. But which came first, Derry or Londonderry, well neither.
Derry became strategically important during the Tudor conquest of Ireland. After the ‘Flight of the Earls’, the city and county were handed over to the Corporation of London which was represented by London's merchants. The corporation brought in large populations of English and Scottish Protestant settlers to build towns for them and this is how Derry was constructed. In 1613 they started the city walls around the hill. Within the walls, they began a city with its first stages completed by 1619, of what would be the first planned city in Ireland. .This was originally constructed on an island as a channel of the Foyle wrapped around it. The channel would occasionally dry to a bog and hence the Bogside acquired its name.
The castle was robustly built to defend the plantation of settlers from the local Irish insurgents who did not welcome the occupation. The central diamond within the walled city had four gates. It was thought to be so good a defensive design that it was subsequently copied many times in the colonies of British North America. The initial town charter defined the city as the area extending 6.1 km, 3 miles, from the centre.
The most famous of the city's battles were during the Glorious Revolution and the 1689 ‘Siege of Derry’. This occurred during the Williamite War in Ireland and involved a pre-emptive lockdown of the city gates in December 1688 followed by a violent defensive action lasting from 18 April to 28 July 1689. By this time only Derry and nearby Enniskillen were the only Williamite strongholds remaining nationally. The siege began after King James rode to within 300 yards of the walls and demanded the surrender of the city. Legend has it that every man, woman, and child in the city rushed to the walls and shouted, "No surrender!" and the city's defenders fired at him. James would ask three more times and be rebuffed on each occasion. The ensuing siege lasted one hundred and five days and the besieged were reduced to eating dogs, cats, and laundry starch to survive.
Today Derry is the fourth largest city on the island of Ireland and only second to Belfast in Northern Ireland. The city has extended to both banks of the river and the original walls survive almost unchanged to this day. Its walls now provide a walkway around the old inner city connecting a visitor to Derry's rich history. They vary in height and width, from 4 to 12 metres, are 1.5 km in circumference and interspersed with a series of eight town gates, of which four are original.
Inside the modern city preserves its 17th century Renaissance style street plan of four main streets radiating from a central Diamond to the original four town gates. The city's oldest surviving building was constructed within a couple of decades of the walls. This is the 1633 Plantation Gothic cathedral of St. Columb which is visible from most parts of Lough Foyle. The church was the first Protestant cathedral built in the United Kingdom after the Reformation and to this day houses the largest and oldest bells, dating from the 1620s, in Ireland. It's a treasure house of Plantation and Derry Protestant emblems. In the porch of the cathedral is a stone that records completion with the inscription: "If stones could speake, then London's prayse should sound, Who built this church and cittie from the grounde. ". The church has memorials and relics from the siege of 1688-89 and most visitors come to see the keys that locked the four main gates of the city during the siege. The Catholic Church of Saint Columba's Long Tower, that began life on a much smaller scale in 1783, stands close to the south. This part of Derry remains Ireland’s only completely walled city and is the finest example of a walled city in Europe.
Couple this architectural legacy with a focal position in the important events of Irish history and a fascinating destination for tourism results. From the plantation to the sieges, to the mass emigration to America, Australia and Liverpool, the surrender of U-Boats at Lisahally in WW2 and 'The Troubles' culminating in ‘Bloody Sunday’ there is much here to intrigue the visitor. This colourful and varied cultural heritage may be embraced in many museums, including a Victorian-style museum dedicated to the city's maritime heritage, that is set alongside sites of interest in and around the city. With Cityside, on the west, and Waterside, on the east, connected by the Craigavon Bridge all of this is situated within an easy walking distance of the Foyle Pontoon. Furthermore, the berth is situated in the heart of the historic city with many other attractions including restaurants, pubs and a vibrant shopping centre close at hand.
Derry would be a compelling and contrasting berth on any coastline, but none more so than on the margins of the rugged and solitary northwest coast of Ireland. Not only is it a spectacular historic city but it is also an ideal and secure gateway to explore the North Antrim Coast and Donegal’s ruggedly beautiful Inishowen Peninsula either by sea or land. It truly offers the coastal cruiser a unique and varied set of opportunities.
What facilities are available?There is electricity, waste reception facilities, water and showers on the pontoon. Launderette, provisions, petrol, ‘luggable’ diesel, and bottle gas are all available on Strand Road, a short walk from the pontoon; with bulk diesel by arrangement at Lisahally. The city has marine engineering, a yacht chandlery, but no boatyard.
The pontoon is a short walk from the city centre with all the facilities to serve an urban population of 90,000, and a wider population of 237,000 within 32 km of the city. Thus it has a wide variety of excellent restaurants, bars, shopping, and all other facilities to offer.
Transport connections are very good as the location serves as a transport hub for nearby counties Donegal and Tyrone as well as Derry City itself. All buses depart from the city centre Foyle Street Bus Station to destinations throughout Ireland including a daily half-hourly service to Belfast. Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.) have a single route from Londonderry railway station, on the Waterside, to Belfast. City of Derry airport is the main regional airport with year round scheduled flights to UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe offered by Aer Arann and Ryanair. Further flight options are available via Belfast International Airport, the main regional airport, and George Best Belfast City Airport, which are accessible by bus and train.
Any security concerns?Pontoon access is restricted to key holders only. CCTV monitors the area 24 hours a day controlled by the Harbour Office.
With thanks to:Bill McCann, Londonderry Harbour Master. Ian Paterson, Kenneth Allen, Kay Atherton, Shanice Mullan, Horslips5, Nicolas Raymond, Greg Clarke, Nico Kaiser, John Lord, NorthernCounties, Ross, Jove, Jim Williamson, Richard Webb, Oliver Dixon, Lindy Buckley, Patrick Mackie, Reading Tom, Sergio, Don McFarlane, Adamina, Alex Ranaldi, Laurentka, Clifford Payne, Andrew Hurley, Andrew Hurley Joyce and Mervyn Norris of Trean House Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast.
A number of small vessels escorting the Clipper Derry Londonderry out of the city.
A short promotional video by the Northern Ireland tourist board.
Add your review or comment:
Nick Kelly wrote this review on Jun 8th 2014:
There are now three showers on the first pontoon, though one out of order (June2014), and another hot/cold. NB - fill up with water before you arrive. Water is charged for at an extortionate rate. If you need water, you might be best to consider a different stopping point.Average Rating: Unrated
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