The basin provides complete protection. Safe access is available night or day, at any stage of the tide in all reasonable conditions.
Keyfacts for Belfast Harbour
SummaryA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 36.300' N, 005° 54.860' W
This is position of the Abercorn Basin where the recreational vessel berths are located.
What are the key points of the approach?
- Approaches to the lough can be found in the Bangor Harbour entry.
- Track into the Fairway Light buoy through Belfast Lough's open navigable area that is free of dangers.
- Enter the channel and follow it into the Abercorn Basin under power taking care not to impede commercial traffic.
Not what you need?
- Cultra - 2.8 miles NE
- Newtownabbey - 2.9 miles NNE
- Greenisland - 3.5 miles NNE
- Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 4.5 miles NNE
- Helen’s Bay - 4.7 miles NE
- Bangor Harbour & Marina - 5.7 miles ENE
- Ballyholme Bay - 6.1 miles ENE
- Groomsport - 6.9 miles ENE
- Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 7.1 miles SE
- Whitehead - 7.2 miles NE
How to get in?
Belfast Harbour is situated at the head of Belfast Lough at the entrance to the River Lagan. Belfast is the capital, and also the manufacturing and commercial heart of Northern Ireland. The centre of Belfast and the greater part of the modern city is west of the Lagan in Co. Antrim, but part of the city also lies east of the Lagan in Co. Down. It provides berthing facilities within the docks area at the mouth of the River Lagan.
Directions for Bangor Harbour may be used for approaches to the lough. From which a track to the Belfast Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, which is situated in the middle of the lough between Carrickfergus and Grey Point on the opposite shore.
All boat movements are controlled and managed within the Port of Belfast area. This area covers the entire head of the lough within a charted line drawn from Carrickfergus to Grey Point. Boats operating in the Port of Belfast area must do so under power with sails down taking care not to impede commercial traffic.
All vessels are required to report to Belfast Harbour radio, VHF Channel 12 or 16 or by telephone on +44 2890 553504, well in advance of arrival and advise them of their intentions. The following Belfast Harbour radio contacts are prerequisite for all berthing craft:
1. Two hours prior to arrival at the Fairway Buoy or entry point.
2. Fifteen minutes prior to arrival at the Fairway Buoy or entry point.
3. When Passing No. 12 Beacon (one mile out from the river mouth).
4. When arriving at the berth.
Vessels must maintain a listening watch on VHF Channel 12 whilst within the harbour limits. The maximum speed in the harbour area south of Number 12 beacon is 6 knots.
From the initial fix, the position of the Fairway Light buoy, LFl.10s, steer to pass between the No. 1 Green buoy, starboard hand marker, Fl2 G (sync) and the No. 2 Red buoy, port hand marker Fl2 R 2s (sync) 2.5 miles west by southwest. The total length of travel from the Fairway Light buoy to the berth is 7.5 miles.
The dredged channel is the preferred route and the one that the harbour authorities encourage visiting vessels to use. However, provided advance permission is sought and approved by Belfast Harbour radio, it is possible for yachts to enter the fairway between Piles No. 5 and No. 6 where ample depth will be found up too and beyond these marks. This is not the case inside beacon No. 12. After beacon No. 12 shallow and drying banks on either side of the fairway make it very dangerous to leave the marked channel.
The Abercorn Basin will be found just under 1.5 miles from this branch point. It is situated on the southeast, or port hand side, adjacent to the highly conspicuous very large domed Odyssey Pavilion on Queen's Quay.
Credit/Debit Card payment must be made on arrival at one of the ticket machines situated on the main pontoon at the base of the entrance bridge. Visitors will be asked to input their vessel LOA, berth number(s) and the planned duration of their stay. Retain the provided receipt as it contains the access gates security code information on the back.
Smaller power craft may find further pontoons at the Lagan Weir beyond the Lagan Bridge. The Lagan Bridge is located 400 metres upstream or southwest of the entrance to the Abercorn Basin and it has an airdraft of less than 8 metres above chart datum or 3.5 metres MHWS. The pontoons are located 150 metres upstream at the Lagan Weir. These pontoons are a Northern Ireland government facility operated by the Dept of Social Development.
The Lagan Weir protects the city from very high tides and retains navigable water in the river at low tide. When the Weir opens low airdraft vessels, drawing less than 1.5 metres, may continue three miles upriver to the Stranmillis Weir; pass through gate 2 to go upriver and return through gate 4.
Why visit here?Belfast derives its name from the Irish ‘Béal Feirste’ that translates to "mouth of the sandbars". The sandbar referred to was across the mouth of the River Lagan and situated near where the little River Farset joined it. This small river that now flows below High Street to enter the Lagan, was also named from the bank or ford, feirste over time moving to fearsaid to Farset.
Belfast’s human occupation reaches back to the Bronze Age. This is evidenced by the Megalithic ‘Giant's Ring’ henge located near the city that dates back over 5000 years. Later remains of Iron Age hill forts, such as McArt's Fort on top of Cave Hill, may also be seen in the hills surrounding the city.
By the 19th century Belfast had become Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city with linen, heavy engineering, tobacco and shipbuilding dominating the economy. In the middle of the 19th century there were several iron foundries in Belfast, and in the late 19th century a large engineering industry grew up. It was this, combined with the ideal estuarial location, that made it the location for the shipbuilding industry, and Belfast became home to one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, Harland and Wolff. At its peak Harland and Wolff, employing up to 35,000 workers, was considered the greatest and most productive shipbuilding company globally. Migrants came to Belfast from across Ireland, Scotland and England, but particularly from rural Ulster to work in the yard and the surrounding industrial powerhouse that the city had become. For a short time it overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland. But with this infusion came the first sectarian tensions marked by riots, which have become synonymous with the city.
Belfast is the second largest city in all of Ireland and is Northern Ireland’s capital. It remains a centre for business and industry, featuring aircraft production, brewing, flour milling, pharmaceuticals and other light industries. It is also a centre for the arts, higher education, law, culture and is the engine of Northern Ireland. The harbour itself remains equally significant. Today it still handles over 60% of Northern Ireland’s sea-borne trade and 20% of Ireland's as a whole.
From a boating perspective, the Abercorn Basin provides excellent shelter from all winds and safe easy access. But it also places a boatman in the heart of this historic city with its extensive facilities within 10 minutes’ walk. It also offers a rare and uniquely historic connection, a berth in the Harland and Wolff's cradle of the 'Titanic Port'.
What facilities are available?Drinking water and electricity are provided to all berths 24hrs daily. Waste and recycling facilities are available at the base of the bridge, and public toilets are available in the Odyssey complex during opening hours together with public payphones and paid car parking.
The pontoon is a ten minute walk from the city centre which has all the facilities to service an urban population of more than a quarter of a million. Thus it has to offer a wide variety of excellent restaurants, bars, shopping, museums, galleries and all other facilities, including a sailmaker.
Belfast has excellent transport connections via trains and bus services to any location in Ireland. Flights to domestic and international destinations operate from Belfast International Airport, the main regional airport, and George Best Belfast City Airport. There are more than 80 weekly ferry sailings from Belfast to UK ports.
Any security concerns?The facility is monitored by CCTV security cameras. Secure access is gained by a gate code which can be found on the reverse of the receipt provided by the fee payment ticket machine.
With thanks to:Michael Evans, Deputy Harbour Master, Belfast Harbour. Photography with thanks to RobertPaulYoung, Albert Bridge, Michael Parry, Rossographer, Ardfern, Eric Jones, Prioryman and Dean Molyneaux.
Aerial overview of the Belfast harbour area
The new harbour development and the Titanic visitor centre
Add your review or comment:
Ron Lub wrote this review on Jun 17th 2019:
Good place when you’re visiting Belfast. 18 pound a night free electricity, showers and washing/drying machine!
This week they started to make more pontoons in this basin so more room for visiting yachts when ready!
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