Portachurry is a stay-aboard anchorage that only affords tenacious protection from northerly winds. It is however severely exposed to Atlantic swell and holding can be poor off the rocky inlet. Access requires careful navigation and good visibility as the surrounding inlet is fringed with rocks and the area is subject to strong currents, standing waves and tidal races.
Keyfacts for Portachurry
Summary* Restrictions applyA stay-aboard location with careful navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position55° 25.716' N, 007° 14.575' W
This is the approximate anchoring location off the mouth of the inlet on the southwest corner of the island.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
- Vessels approaching from the east will find open water all the way to Inishtrahull and Portmore.
- Vessels approaching from the west should avoid the Garvan Isles and will find it easier to round Inishtrahull's southern side.
- Align a bearing of 227° T of the conspicuous red tripod crane situated on the Portmore quay and track into the cut.
- Pass between the flanking outer rocks and continue up the centre of the cut.
Not what you need?
- Portmore - 0.5 nautical miles NE
- Malin Harbour or Slievebane Bay - 4.6 nautical miles SW
- Culdaff Bay - 8.3 nautical miles SSE
- Tremone Bay - 11 nautical miles SSE
- Kinnagoe Bay - 13 nautical miles SE
- Lenan Bay - 14.9 nautical miles SW
- Portkill - 15.6 nautical miles SE
- Portnocker - 16.1 nautical miles SE
- Moville - 16.1 nautical miles SSE
- Carrickarory Pier - 16.2 nautical miles SSE
What's the story here?
Inishtrahull is situated off the north coast of Ireland three miles northwest of the outermost Garvan Isle across Inishtrahull Sound. It is nearly a mile long and is made up of two rounded hills joined by a stretch of low ground with a prominent lighthouse at its western end. Portachurry is a narrow rocky inlet situated on the south west corner of Inishtrahull Island under the lighthouse.
How to get in?
Approaches to the island are detailed in the islands primary berth of Portmore .
The Portachurry initial fix is 400 metres southwest of the bay and 600 metres south-southwest of Inishtrahull lighthouse on the summit of the hill that makes up the western side of the island. A bearing of 45° T from the initial fix will lead into the anchoring location. The southern shore of Inishtrahull is steep to, free of off lying dangers and can be approached as close as 100 metres.
The final few metres require keen eyeball navigation and close observation to stay clear of drying rocks fringing the shore whilst finding an anchoring location.
Anchor in 10 or 11 metres in the mouth of the inlet. The narrow southwest facing inlet leads to a jetty with 1.5 metres, and a slip and steps. Landing here is not recommended as it will most likely be exposed to Atlantic swell.
Why visit here?Portachurry in Gaelic means ‘Currach Harbour’ which aptly describes the rocky inlet. The gut has provided a dramatically less attractive but nonetheless alternative landing place for islanders over the centuries. The southwest facing inlet has a jetty, steps and a slip, but landing here is said to be a problem. It is exposed to the Atlantic swell and as such it is not recommended.
A better anchorage, along with details on Inishtrahull Island, can be found in the island’s primary berth of Portmore . However in very settled conditions or light northerlies, in the absence of swell, Portachurry could provide an option to drop off a shore party or a temporary small boat berth. Likewise the anchorage in the mouth of the bay could prove convenient for crews looking for respite from northerlies, a lunch stop or tide wait location when Portmore may not be used.
What facilities are available?There are no facilities on Inishtrahull and landing is not recommended at Portachurry as the location is subject to swell.
Any security concerns?This is a stay-aboard anchorage where it would be unsafe to leave a vessel unattended. This aside, never an issue is known to have occurred to a vessel anchored in this isolated location of the uninhabited Inishtrahull.
With thanks to:Bill McCann, Londonderry Harbour Master. Photography with thanks to Margaretincarn and Arnold Price.
This video presents a Sea Kayaking visit to Inishtrahull's south-western corner.
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