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Culdaff Bay

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Overview





Culdaff Bay is situated on the north coast of Ireland about midway between Malin Head and Inishowen Head on the Inishowen Peninsula. The bay offers one of the best anchorages along this coast, with visitor moorings off Culdaff's Bunnagee Pier, and with the possibility for shallower draft vessels to come alongside, in an attractive location with a village nearby.

Culdaff is a good anchorage that affords shelter and protection from winds from south-southeast through south to the north-northwest. Strong external tidal streams that pass outside, keep down the swell inside the bay. The wide bay that is free from outlying dangers offers straightforward access at all states of the tide.
Please note

Although out of the run of the tide a boat can be tide rode in Culdaff causing it to roll uncomfortably sometimes.




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Keyfacts for Culdaff Bay
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierNote: 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
April 30th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 17.987' N, 007° 9.180' W

This is the location of Culdaff's Bunnagee pier head situated immediately southwest of the visitor moorings.

What is the initial fix?

The following Culdaff Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 18.250' N, 007° 8.400' W
It is north of the bay in deep water tending towards the Bunnagee Point upon the bays western side. A bearing of 240° T for a distance of half a mile from this initial fix will lead to the location of the moorings off Culdaff's Bunnagee Pier.


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.

  • A berth of 300 metres from the shore clears all dangers and the Lough Foyle approaches, detailed in the Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) Click to view haven entry, provides general approaches to the area.

  • Approach the western side of the bay giving the foul Bunnagee Point a berth of at least 300 metres all round.



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 Culdaff Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Tremone Bay - 2 miles ESE
  2. Kinnagoe Bay - 3.4 miles ESE
  3. Malin Harbour or Slievebane Bay - 4.7 miles NW
  4. Moville - 4.8 miles SSE
  5. Carrickarory Pier - 4.9 miles SSE
  6. Greencastle - 5.1 miles SE
  7. Portachurry - 5.2 miles NNW
  8. Portkill - 5.2 miles ESE
  9. Portmore - 5.3 miles NNW
  10. Silver Strand - 5.3 miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Tremone Bay - 2 miles ESE
  2. Kinnagoe Bay - 3.4 miles ESE
  3. Malin Harbour or Slievebane Bay - 4.7 miles NW
  4. Moville - 4.8 miles SSE
  5. Carrickarory Pier - 4.9 miles SSE
  6. Greencastle - 5.1 miles SE
  7. Portachurry - 5.2 miles NNW
  8. Portkill - 5.2 miles ESE
  9. Portmore - 5.3 miles NNW
  10. Silver Strand - 5.3 miles SE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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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?


Culdaff Bay is a mile wide bight on the moderately high northern Inishowen Peninsula. The bay is entered between Bunnagee Point and Dunmore Head and it has a small pier on its western shore with visitor moorings close by. Culdaff village is situated 1.5 km away from the pier on the Culdaff estuary.


Convergance Point Set less than ten miles northwest of Inishowen Head and the entrance channel to Lough Foyle, approaches to the area are detailed in the Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) Click to view haven entry.

The bay provides a well sheltered anchorage in a remote and beautiful setting. The immediate coastline is steep-to and free from danger with 20 metres of water a quarter of a mile off. A berth of 300 metres off the shore clears all dangers in this area.


Initial fix location The Culdaff Bay initial fix is located to the northwest and on the Bunnagee Point side of the bay. Steering a bearing of 240° T for a distance of half a mile from the initial fix will lead to the location of six moorings situated 140 metres east of Bunnagee pier.

Vessels approaching from the west should give Bunnagee Point a berth of at least 300 metres to avoid Bo Rock. This is a drying rack, to 0.6 metres, located 100 metres to the northeast of the point. Also, keep the same distance to the east of the headland to clear Carrickkeeragh and Bo of Drumdur that mark the foul outskirts to the eastern side of the headland.




Haven location Berthing options include picking up the moorings as available but they can be subject to swell. Alternatively, a yacht may anchor south-southeast of the pier in 3 to 4 metres. Good holding in sand will be found here.

Vessels anchoring elsewhere off the beach should note the position of the drying ‘Carratra More’, to 2.3 metres, situated off the beach in the centre of the bay.

Bunnagee Pier has 2 metres at its head but shoals and dries rapidly. Vessels less than 10 metres and drawing no more than 1.4 metres can lie afloat alongside the pier at MLWN but not at MLWS.


Why visit here?
Culdaff ‘s name is derived from the Irish Cúil Dabhcha. The word cúil meaning ‘corner or nook’ but Dabhcha has obscure origins and is thought to refer to a person’s name.




History runs deep here and it has left a rich legacy in Culdaff’s surrounding area. A stone circle can be seen at Bocan, the High Crosses at Carrowmore, and the megalithic tombs at Deen and Care. Half a kilometre south of Culdaff there is a 600-year-old graveyard at Cloncha with Scots Gaelic and Old Gaelic inscriptions. The visually charming village is centred on two fine stone bridges and a green that features a covered hand pump. Although its present design dates back to the 18th century the original settlement dates back to the 8th Century St. Buadán monastery that was located here. However, it is in relatively modern history where this out of the way coastline lies adjacent to one of the most critical and prolonged battles of World War II.


Immediately offshore the ‘North Channel’ formed the narrowing of two critical and highly vulnerable Atlantic convoy paths. The first was the critical North Atlantic pathway to convey vital supplies into the UK, and the latter the onward supply path for Russia. The ships funnelled here into a relatively constricted and an exposed area between two and forty miles offshore of Culdaff to keep in shallower water. But it was off this shoreline that Hitler's U-Boat wolf packs lay in wait and the destruction they unleashed was enormous. There are at least 150 charted wrecks within thirty miles of Culdaff Bay and commercial vessels continue to discover more unrecorded wrecks up to the present day. This carnage has left Culdaff with an interestingly legacy.


Washed over by the ebb and flow of the strong Atlantic currents these wrecks are now literally packed with fish. They are home to the rare torsk, a mix between a ling and a cod with a big head, wolf fish, cod and pollack. Anglers that come here continuously hit big fish on the wrecks. Likewise, it is possible to fish off the end of Bunnagee Pier, off the rocks to the immediate north of the pier, or the surf strand to the east of the pier that is best during late summer and early autumn. The fish stocks are good in the area with fish feeding on most tides and catches of twenty flatfish on a tide are not uncommon. This has turned Bunnagee Harbour into a centre for angling.


The small delightful village’s other main attraction is its beautiful sandy beach making it popular for bathing and water sports as well as fishing. The Blue Flag beach is separated by a rocky outcrop into 'the small beach' and 'the big beach'. A hotel, situated in the village, home to a population of approximately two hundred people, is the main gathering place for locals and visiting anglers. It is known for live music and good food, and for those visiting in August, they may chance upon a beer festival. Those who land and are looking for a walk will find standing stones behind the Bocan chapel, St. Bodan’s Rock below the Bridge, the site of old St. Bodan’s well behind the Church of Ireland, and the ‘Temple of Deen’ just outside the village near the Bocan chapel. On a fine day, the small picnic site up the Culdaff River makes for an ideal outing. There is a track from the picnic site to the river, but the narrow shallow channel is not practically reached by dingy. The preferred access is via the car park behind a gap in the sand dunes on the beach.


In sailing terms, Culdaff Bay is one of the most protected and easily accessed anchorages along this coastline. Well inset into the shoreline it provides protection from winds north by northwest right round by the west to the south by southeast. The strong tides that run outside do not enter here but keep down the sea within the bay to a remarkable degree and it has a fine landing place at Bunnagee Pier. Should the wind veer to the north to expose the anchorage, Inishowen Head can be rounded in less than ten miles opening into the completely protected Lough Foyle. Likewise, the alternative bays of Kinnagoe and Tremone only offer anchorages with beach landings but no facilities. This makes it an ideal tide wait location for a favourable weather window to round Malin Head.


However, those who come here will find Culdaff itself a highly attractive place. The scenic location, surrounded by spectacular coastal and mountain scenery is ideally suited to hill walking, nature photography, angling or cycling. Local pubs and restaurants in the village provide good fare and an atmosphere that encourages a boatman to relax and enjoy a stay that may be longer than expected.


What facilities are available?
Water is available near to the pier and fuel and provisions may be obtained at the village of Culdaff. This is located about a mile up the Culdaff River that flows into the bay to the south of the pier. It has a grocery shop and three pubs, one with a restaurant. Derry, 35km away, has all the shopping you’d expect of a large provincial city.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored in Culdaff Bay.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades. Photography with thanks to Kenneth Allen, Henry Clark, Patrick Mackie, Peter Homer, Oliver Dixon, Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays, Steve Wilson, Joyce and Mervyn Norris of Trean House Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast.


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


































The following videos may be useful to help first time visitors familiarise themselves with Culdaff.

This video features Bunagee Pier and Culdaff Beach.




The video presents spectacular views of the beach and bay.




The video presents more views of Bunagee pier.




A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


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