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Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina

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Overview





Carrickfergus Harbour is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland and on the northern shore of Belfast Lough. It offers a large scale full-service marina plus a harbour located in the centre of a principal town.

The marina and harbour provide complete protection. With no off-lying dangers, safe access is available night or day, at any stage of the tide in all reasonable conditions.
Please note

Regular fast ferries travel in and out of Belfast Lough. If crossing the entrance a good watch must be maintained and a vessel should be prepared to be struck unexpectedly by the wash at all times.




1 comment
Keyfacts for Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway 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 locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingMSD (marine sanitation device) pump out facilitiesHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway 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 locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingMSD (marine sanitation device) pump out facilitiesHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 42.575' N, 005° 48.675' W

This is position located at the entrance to the Marina on the outer end of the eastern breakwater. It is marked with a green beacon Q.G 8m 3M.

What is the initial fix?

The following Carrickfergus Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 41.800' N, 005° 47.610' W
The initial fix is one mile out from the marina entrance centred in middle of the leading-light, defining the centre approach line to the marina. The sectored light has a total beam width of 24° sectored as follows: 9.5° Red, 5° White, 9.5° Green. A course of 321°(T) from here will lead into the marina entrance via the white sector at night. Alternatively a course of 331°(T) will lead into the harbour entrance.


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 the lough can be found in the Bangor Harbour Click to view havenentry.

  • Track into the Fairway Light buoy through Belfast Lough's open navigable area that is free of dangers.

  • Continue in close north of the first marks of the Victoria Channel.

  • Approach the from the south, either the marina or the harbour.


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 Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Greenisland - 1 miles SW
  2. Newtownabbey - 1.7 miles SW
  3. Cultra - 2.1 miles S
  4. Helen’s Bay - 2.1 miles SE
  5. Whitehead - 2.9 miles NE
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.4 miles ESE
  7. Ballyholme Bay - 3.7 miles ESE
  8. Magheramorne Point - 4.2 miles NNE
  9. Groomsport - 4.3 miles ESE
  10. Mill Bay - 4.4 miles NNE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Greenisland - 1 miles SW
  2. Newtownabbey - 1.7 miles SW
  3. Cultra - 2.1 miles S
  4. Helen’s Bay - 2.1 miles SE
  5. Whitehead - 2.9 miles NE
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.4 miles ESE
  7. Ballyholme Bay - 3.7 miles ESE
  8. Magheramorne Point - 4.2 miles NNE
  9. Groomsport - 4.3 miles ESE
  10. Mill Bay - 4.4 miles NNE
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?


Carrickfergus Harbour and marina are situated on the north shore of Belfast Lough just over five miles to the southwest of Black Head and the same distance northwest of Bangor Harbour. Overlooked by its signature Norman castle this was one of Ireland’s largest 16th-century ports. Today it is a bustling suburb of Belfast and a centre for leisure craft.

All approaching visitors to the harbour and marina should contact the Carrickfergus Marina Office on VHF channels 80; M1; or by landline on +4428 9336 6666 for berth allocation. Directions for Bangor Harbour Click to view haven may be used for approaches to the lough.

Track into the Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, through Belfast Lough's open navigable area that is free of danger. The Fairway Light buoy is situated in the middle of the lough between Carrickfergus and Grey Point on the opposite shore.

Carrickfergus Castle, sitting on a rocky promontory overlooking the seafront immediately east of the harbour, will be highly conspicuous from anywhere in the bay. The No. 1 starboard hand marker and No. 2 port buoy, marking the entrance to Belfast Lough via the Victoria Channel, will also be seen in the middle of the lough 1.5 miles to the southeast of Carrickfergus.

Between Black Head and Carrickfergus the northern shoreline presents itself as a vertical black basaltic rock cliff face with three lit jetties associated with Kilroot Power Station. The first is the Cloghan Jetty located to the south of the easily identifiable 90 metres high white limestone cliffs of White Head, a mile and a half inside Belfast Lough to the south-southwest. This jetty extends out from the shore for more than half a mile and is lit at the end Fl G 3s 2M. Beyond the pierhead a green buoy, QG. 0.5M, lies half a mile off the pier head.

Next is the 350 metres long Salt Jetty off Kilroot, with a light Oc G 10s on its outer end. 0.75M W of the jetty is a 198m high chimney marked by red vertical lights.

Finally, there is the Kilroot Jetty unloading berth marked by 2 FG (vert) 6m 2M lights.

It is best to keep offshore between Kilroot and Carrickfergus as a drying shoal extends up to ½ a mile out from the shore there. The area should be given a wide berth by making a seaward approach from the initial fix.


Initial fix location From the initial fix the marina entrance is one mile along a course of 320° T towards triangular leading marks on the head of the western breakwater or, by night, via the Marina Entrance Approach Directional Light.

The entrance to the marina is situated at the eastern end of the basin and is open to the southwest. The approach marks and light are located approximately 30 metres to port of the red navigation beacon on the western breakwater.

The ends of the two breakwaters are marked with red and green beacons showing Qk. Fl. R 7M 3m and G 8m 3M, red not showing from 245° to 305° T. The light has a total beam width of 24° sectored, 9.5° Red, 5° White, 9.5° Green with the initial fix leading into the white sector centre approach line to the entrance. When using the leading lights the entrance will not open up until the vessel is nearly opposite the east breakwater to starboard.

At the entrance turn sharply to starboard, to round the east breakwater, to come into the outer entrance. Then turn to port to round the western pierheads breakwater to enter the basin. Vessels should keep mid channel on approach as drying rocks extend to the southwest from the west marina breakwater.

Those choosing to come into the main harbour should take a course of 330° T from the initial fix into the harbour entrance.

The harbour is overlooked by the conspicuous Carrickfergus Castle. The entrance is open to the south and is dredged to 2.3 metres at L.W.S. The ends of the east and west piers are marked with red and green beacons showing Fl. G 7.5s 5m 4M and R 7.5s 5m 4M. The eastern head of Carrickfergus harbour has a conspicuous radio transmitter, now derelict, that can be seen for some distance.




Haven location Within the rubble stone breakwaters the marina basin has 280 fully serviced berths to accommodating vessels from 6 – 18 metres. The basin is dredged to depths of up to 2 metres at L.W.S. at the outer pontoons.

Those entering the harbour will find the southern section has depths of 2.9 metres but the north side underneath the castle dries. Navigational marks are located within the harbour defining the approach to the harbour basin. Pass between two navigation perches marking the end of the internal breakwater and revetment. Turn to port to approach pontoons and the marine services site leaving the second breakwater perch to port. There are isolated tubular piles in the central harbour area. They are painted port and starboard and should be left on approach to the inner harbour berths according to their colour.

The harbour’s Marine Services facilities are located at the southern end of the west pier, as is a purpose-built Marina basin accommodating 10 boats on pontoon berths behind rubble stone breakwaters. This basin is partly dredged to give depths of up to 2.9 metres at L.W.S.



Carrickfergus Harbour also has an inner harbour area accommodating up to 36 boats that can take-to-the-hard at low water. The inner north-eastern harbour area behind King William's Pier dries, as does about halfway along the east pier.
Please note

Depths provided are only indicative. The marina and harbour entrance is prone to silting making depths unreliable and especially so near low water or in swell conditions. Visitors should check in advance on the depths in the entrance when contacting Carrickfergus Marina Office.




Why visit here?
Carrickfergus derives its name from the Gaelic Carraig Fhearghais meaning ‘rock of Fergus’. The Carraig or ‘rock’ component of the name refers to the rocky promontory upon which the towns signature Norman castle was built. The second component is believed to be named after Fergus Mór mac Eirc, son of Erc, the sixth-century king and founder of the joint Irish/Scottish kingdom of Dál Riada. Legend has it that the area took his name after he drowned there.


Carrickfergus is the oldest town in County Antrim. It predates the capital, Belfast City, and remained both larger and more prominent for a lengthy period after Northern Ireland’s premier city had been founded. Moreover, for a long time after, Carrickfergus and its surrounding area enjoyed the status of a county prior to the establishment of the county of Antrim in 1584. ‘Belfast Lough’ as we know it now, was called 'Carrickfergus Bay' well into the 17th century. A large amount of the county's power came from Carrickfergus Castle which was the seat of Norman and latterly Crown power in Ulster.


In 1177 John De Courcy, the youngest son of a Somerset knight, led the conquest of Ulster at the head of an army of 22 knights and 300-foot soldiers. De Courcy personally chose the site of Carrickfergus Castle and started construction soon after his arrival. The stronghold was designed to guard the approach to Belfast Lough and provide essential protection from the native Irish population that were attempting to drive the Normans out.


De Courcy chose Carrickfergus from his east coast chain of castles to be his stronghold and residence. It provided him with an ideal base to communicate with his allies in Northern England and the Isle of Man. He was later to consolidate this power base by marrying Affreca, daughter of the King of Man. But De Courcy’s increasing power began to anger King John who sent Hugh de Lacy to remove de Courcy. Hugh de Lacy, Lord of County Meath, defeated de Courcy in 1205 and took Carrickfergus Castle for himself. This was the start of Carrickfergus Castle’s 750 turbulent years of continuous military occupation. The strategically sited castle’s story is one of being attacked, sieged, captured and recaptured numerous times.


In 1315 Edward Bruce invaded Ireland and the combined Scottish and Irish forces defeated the king’s army at the ‘Battle of Connor’. The retreating army fell back to Carrickfergus Castle and Edward Bruce laid siege to it. They held out for a full year until they were starved out, reputedly after resorting to eating some of their Scottish prisoners by this time. Edward Bruce retained the castle as his base until his death in the battle at Faughart, near Dundalk, in 1318. It was then retaken by the crown forces when during the later medieval period, a time characterised by the resurgence of the Gaelic Lords, it was often the only fortification of any significance held by the crown in Ulster. In 1575 Somhairle Buidhe, Sorley Boy, Mac Donnell captured the town and castle in revenge for the Earl of Essex’s massacre of 600 people, mostly women and children, on Rathlin Island.


At the start of the 17th Century Carrickfergus was the only English speaking town in Ulster but this was about to change with the Plantation of Ulster that would transform Ulster. In 1689 the Jacobite garrison surrendered the castle to the Williamite general, Frederick Schomberg, who had landed at Groomsport, on the opposite shore, and marched on the town. Carrickfergus then provided a secure port for William of Orange to land his army the following year. Combining with Schomberg’s forces they went on to win the decisive Battle of the Boyne on July 12th, 1690 that would put an end to James’ ambitions for the English Crown and secure William’s. But not all events ended well for the English in this bastion of British rule.


In 1760 three French warships entered Belfast Bay with 800 men. They landed at Kilroot and the attack on Carrickfergus castle was an extraordinarily close and heroic battle. When the defenders, five officers and 230 men, ran out of ammunition they used their coat buttons as musket balls. Once these were exhausted the fighting descended into hand-to-hand combat before the garrison was finally forced to surrender. The French leader, Commodore Thurot, was so impressed with the courage of the English that he allowed the officers to march out carrying their swords and the remainder of the garrison trooping the regimental colours. This would be the final time that Carrickfergus Castle would be taken.




Eighteen years later, in 1778, the American naval hero John Paul Jones was to engage the British warship HMS Drake off Belfast Lough. The combatants were very close together but just out of grappling range as Jones feared the Drake had extra men hidden below decks. In addition to the ship's guns, both sides were firing small arms at each other which would prove decisive. The Drake killed just one of Jones's crew by musket fire and another two from up the masts as a by-product of a broadside. Four of Drake’s crew were killed including, just under an hour into the fight, the ship’s commander Captain Burdon who was struck on the head by a musket ball. With both the captain and lieutenant out of action, the command of Drake passed to a junior officer. By this stage the Drake’s sails and rigging had been shot away by broadsides leaving the vessel a helpless sitting target. More or less immobilised and under a constant hail of musket fire, the Drake surrendered.



When Jones’ ship passed Carrickfergus the inhabitants stood on the waterfront and cheered his victory, demonstrating their support for the American Revolution. Jones went on to evade capture and deliver Drake to Brest, France, as his prize on 8th May 1778. A long way from home this was the first, and most decisive, an American victory over any Royal Navy vessel in British waters. It also stands as the first naval victory of America's fledgeling navy fleet.


Carrickfergus Castle still functioned as an English garrison up until 1928. Then the castle passed to the people as an ancient monument. Except for one final use as a Second World War air-raid shelter, after 750 years of continuous military occupation, the castle's military career had come to an end. This made the castle the longest-serving of any in Ireland.


Today it is one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland. The castle’s vibrant past is illustrated today through life-size models of historic figures dotted through the interiors. A museum may be found in the keep with exhibitions that provide an insight into medieval life including a banqueting hall with medieval clothes on display.


The town has many other points of historic interest such as the present Church of Ireland church of St Nicholas. This was built by John de Courcy in 1182 and it is believed that a church may have existed there beforehand. It was remodelled at the start of the Plantation in 1614 and none of the original building now survives. A good part of the old towns medieval walls are still in evidence with the handsomely restored North Gate being particularly noteworthy.


The towns 18th-century houses are also highly attractive and it retains Ireland's only surviving fully restored coal gasworks. The ‘Timeless Trail’ can be relied upon to guide walkers round the essential historic sights of the town. At the end of which is ‘Dobbins Inn’ on High Street, which has been a hotel and watering hole for more than three centuries and is a good spot to settle a thirst. Visitors intending on visiting near the end of July should try to coincide their visit with the annual Lughnasa festival, a lively medieval-costume entertainment.


Carrickfergus’s connection with America extends beyond John Paul Jones’ improbable victory. The parents of America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson (1829–1837), came from just outside the town and Jackson’s parents left for America in 1765, just two years before his birth. The original ancestral thatched cottage was demolished in 1860 but a thatched replica, complete with fireplace and 18th Century furnishings, has been re-established in its place. The adjoining small museum ‘The Andrew Jackson Cottage and U.S. Rangers Centre’ tells the tale of the U.S. president and the US Rangers. It is open all year-round but access is by arrangement through the Carrickfergus tourist office.


With such a historic legacy and with Carrickfergus Castle standing to the east of the harbour, Carrickfergus wears its past proudly. Set on a rocky promontory overlooking the seafront the castle is a beacon for approaching boatman. Yet for most people, the town will perhaps be most famous for being the subject of the classic Irish folk song "Carrickfergus". This 19th-century translation of an Irish-language song Do Bhí Bean Uasal opens with the line "I wish I was, in Carrickfergus" and is perhaps one of Ireland’s finest ballads.




Carrickfergus today is a large town that is part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. Along with its history, there are some lovely parks, gardens and scenic walks, and great golf courses to explore. The yachting facilities bear testament to the town's importance as a sailing centre and boatmen that arrive here come to enjoy a town steeped in history.


What facilities are available?
Drinking water and electricity – a daily charge for visitors - are provided to all berths 24hrs daily, and toilets & showers with full services are available in the exclusive berth holders’ area. Separate disabled shower/toilet facilities are also available. A laundry service is available at Marina reception during the hours of 8am-4pm. There is a fuel berth and pump-out station and chemical toilet disposal unit on the visitors' pontoon within the Marina basin. Two public payphones are situated at the marina building, and there are restaurants and bars in the Waterfront complex, or in the town. Carrickfergus Sailing Club has its clubhouse on the east side of the Marina and welcomes visiting yachtsmen. It also has showers and a bar that is open most evenings, and also at weekends when meals are available.

A comprehensive range of marine services are available in Carrickfergus, including a 45 tonne Travel Hoist, hard standing, chandlery, boat and engine and electric repairs, plus cabin soft furnishings made to order. A slipway that can take boats up to 1.5 metres of draught is available within the Harbour area and can be used by arrangement through the Marina Office. The slipway may be accessed 2hrs +- HW (dependent on draft) - please note the presence of isolated tubular piles in the central harbour area and leave these piles to port on approach to the harbour slipway from the lough.

With a population of over 27,000 people, the town has excellent shopping facilities and there are several hotels and restaurants in the immediate area of the Waterfront Complex. It has good road and rail communications with Belfast which is 18 km (11 miles) away with access to its international Airports, and taxis are freely available.


Any security concerns?
The marina is a secure complex with security and reception 24 hours a day. Pontoon access is via personalised swipe cards that are provided to visitors at the time of registering their visit. CCTV is in operation throughout the marina complex and security officers patrol during the night.


With thanks to:
Terence Stitt, Portmuck Harbour Master and Julie Ferguson Customer Services Officer (Carrickfergus Marina). Photography with thanks to Eric Jones, Adam Bishop, Ardfern, Kenneth Allen, Adam Bishop, Eric Jones, Ross, Albert Bridge, Rossographer, Stewart, Donna and Jennifer Boyer.


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
















































Scenes of Carrickfergus




Aerial views of the harbour and the castle (with a lot of wind noise)



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Add your review or comment:


Ron Lub wrote this review on Jun 19th 2019:

Good friendly harbour 2.60 mtr pay for one night get a seccond night free.
very friendly helpful staff.
good place to visit the Gobbins (train) electric not free but you pay 0.10 Kw, very clean showers and also a big bath!

Average Rating: ****

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