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Belfast Harbour

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Overview





Belfast Harbour is located on the northeast coast of Ireland at the head of Belfast Lough and within the banks of the River Lagan. The harbour provides newly opened marina facilities for leisure craft in the Abercorn Basin within the commercial port. This provides pontoon berths at the heart of Northern Ireland's capital city.

Belfast Harbour is located on the northeast coast of Ireland at the head of Belfast Lough and within the banks of the River Lagan. The harbour provides newly opened marina facilities for leisure craft in the Abercorn Basin within the commercial port. This provides pontoon berths at the heart of Northern Ireland's capital city.

The basin provides complete protection. Safe access is available night or day, at any stage of the tide in all reasonable conditions.
Please note

Transits to and from Belfast Harbour are controlled and managed. Visiting vessels must make Belfast Harbour Radio aware of any intended approach prior to commencement and maintain contact throughout the transit process. Harbour transits must be made under power with sails down and should not impede commercial traffic.




1 comment
Keyfacts for Belfast Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban 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
Note: 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
4 metres (13.12 feet).

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



Last modified
November 28th 2022

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban 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
Note: 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° 36.300' N, 005° 54.860' W

This is position of the Abercorn Basin where the recreational vessel berths are located.

What is the initial fix?

The following Belfast Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 41.710' N, 005° 46.225' W
This is the position of Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, situated between Carrickfergus and Grey Point, that leads into the Victoria Channel.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in 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 haven 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?
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 Belfast Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Newtownabbey - 4.7 nautical miles NNE
  2. Cultra - 4.8 nautical miles NE
  3. Greenisland - 5.7 nautical miles NNE
  4. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 7.3 nautical miles NNE
  5. Helen’s Bay - 7.6 nautical miles NE
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 9.2 nautical miles ENE
  7. Ballyholme Bay - 9.9 nautical miles ENE
  8. Groomsport - 11.2 nautical miles ENE
  9. Whitehead - 11.3 nautical miles NE
  10. Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 11.5 nautical miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Newtownabbey - 4.7 miles NNE
  2. Cultra - 4.8 miles NE
  3. Greenisland - 5.7 miles NNE
  4. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 7.3 miles NNE
  5. Helen’s Bay - 7.6 miles NE
  6. Bangor Harbour & Marina - 9.2 miles ENE
  7. Ballyholme Bay - 9.9 miles ENE
  8. Groomsport - 11.2 miles ENE
  9. Whitehead - 11.3 miles NE
  10. Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 11.5 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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What's the story here?
The marina on the southeast side of the river in the Abercorn Basin
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


Belfast Harbour is situated at the head of Belfast Lough within the entrance and navigable section of the River Lagan. It is the busy port of the capital city that is also the manufacturing and commercial heart of Northern Ireland. Belfast Harbour Commissioners welcomes visiting vessels to the port and it hosts them in a marina located on the southeast side of the river in the city's refurbished Titanic Quarter at Abercorn Basin. This is in the heart of a large-scale waterfront regeneration, comprising historic maritime landmarks, riverside entertainments and Titanic-themed attractions but is also a short walk from the centre of the city.



Belfast Marina overlooked by the Titanic Museum
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


The marina consists of 85 full-service berths that can accommodate recreational vessels up to 15 metres LOA with a maximum draught of 4.0 metres. Larger vessels are accommodated by arrangement with the port office. Vessels less than or equal to 15 metres are charged a flat fee of [2023] £25.00 per day, less for short stops, via an automated berth payment system at the bottom of the gangway. Berthing arrangments are on a 'first come, first served basis' and made with the Port Office VHF Ch. 12/16 [Belfast Harbour Radio], Landline+44 (0)28 9055 4422, the Abercorn Basin Marina Mobile+44 (0)7760 994176, E-mailinfo@belfast-harbour.co.uk or via the marina website External link.


How to get in?
Belfast Harbour at the head of Belfast Lough
Image: Tourism NI


Convergance Point Use the Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location coastal overview for coastal approaches and Bangor Harbour Click to view haven for approaches to Belfast 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.

Belfast Fairway Light Buoy
Image: © Alan Geddes
The area within a charted line drawn from Carrickfergus to Grey Point, which covers the entire head of the lough, is the Port of Belfast. It is controlled and managed by the port office. Vessels operating in the Port of Belfast area must do so under power with sails down taking care not to impede commercial traffic. No tenders are to be launched and no sightseeing whilst transiting the port.

All vessels are required to report to, VHF Ch. 12/16 [Belfast Harbour Radio] or by telephone at Landline+44 (0)2890 553504, well in advance of arrival and advise them of intentions.

The following Belfast Harbour Radio contacts are prerequisites for all craft lough proceeding west of a charted line drawn from Carrickfergus to Grey Point:

  • 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 Ch. 12 whilst within the harbour limits. The maximum speed in the harbour area, south of the Number 12 beacon, is 6 knots.



Ferry exiting via the Victoria Channel
Image: Tourism NI


Initial fix location The Belfast Harbour Initial Fix is the position of Belfast Fairway Light Buoy, L Fl 10s, situated in the middle of the lough between Carrickfergus and Grey Point on the opposite shore. The initial fix sets up an approach via the dredged Victoria Channel. This is the preferred route and the one that the harbour authorities encourage visiting vessels to use.
Please note

Although the dredged channel is the preferred route that the harbour authorities encourage visiting vessels to use there is some flexibility. 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 to 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.




Collision Regulations apply in the Victoria Channel so do not impede large ships
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


From the initial fix, 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) 2½ miles west by southwest. These mark the entrance to the Belfast Lough's Victoria Channel that leads in through the head of the lough and through the harbour’s extensive port walls on both sides. Once within the Victoria Channel, it is simply a matter of following the frequent and closely spaced light beacons all the way into the harbour; green odd-numbered beacons mark the northwest side and red even-numbered beacons mark the southeast side. The total length of travel from the Fairway Light buoy to the berth is 7½ miles.


The Lagan River to the Abercorn Basin
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


The Victoria Channel is a 'narrow channel' meaning Rule 9 of the Collision Regulations applies, so keep to the right and do not impede large ships under any circumstances. Plenty of water will be found close outside the northeast, or starboard, side of the channel up to the No.13 beacon. Beyond this, it shallows particularly so on the southwest port side, where the Holywood Bank dries almost out to the marks.


The run up the Lagan River to the Abercorn Basin
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


Once inside the River Lagan entrance, Belfast Docks' extensive port installations will be seen on both sides. Continue down the Victoria Channel until Herdman Channel will be seen, branching off to the north side, and Musgrave Channel, branching off to the south side. Ignore both these side channels and continue down the middle between the heads of West Twin and East Twin Islands, into the Lagan River.


The Abercorn Basin entrance as seen from upriver on the opposite side
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


The Abercorn Basin will be found just under 1½ miles from this branch point. It is situated on the southeast, port side, just beyond the Titanic Museum building and adjacent to the highly conspicuous huge domed Odyssey Pavilion on Queen's Quay.


Belfast Harbour Marina
Image: ExploreTheWorld External link


Haven location The pontoons are located on the southwest side of the basin immediately adjacent to the Odyssey Pavilion. 240 metres of pontoons supporting 40 berths will be found and the Basin is dredged to 4 metres.


Belfast Harbour Marina
Image: Daniel Sczepansky via CC ASA 3.0


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.


Belfast Harbour Marina as seen from the opposite side of the basin
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


Retain the provided receipt as it contains the access gates' security code information on the back.
Please note

The Abercorn Basin pontoons are a forerunner to a planned new fully equipped 200-berth marina located right at the heart of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.




The Lagan Weir beyond the Lagan Bridge upriver
Image: Benbradagh Dji Ireland External link


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
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


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 3 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 name for a 'bank' or 'ford', 'feirste' over time moving to 'fearsaid' to Farset.


Cave Hill overlooking Belfast City
Image: Tourism NI


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.


Belfast Castle
Image: Tourism NI


The original settlement of Belfast is thought to have been little more than a village based around the marshy ford provided by the conjunction of the Rivers Lagan and Farset. The first note of it was made as early as AD 665 when it was described in the account of a battle fought at the site. In 1177 John de Courcy, the leader of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ulster, built a castle here to protect and dominate the position. It was attacked, recovered, destroyed and rebuilt many times until it was eventually destroyed by fire in 1708.


Victorian Belfast City Hall completed in 1906
Image: Tourism NI


However, during all this time Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance that was continually overshadowed by Carrickfergus, the Norman administrative headquarters, to the northeast. This changed with the 17th-century Plantation of Ulster when Belfast became a substantial settlement. No one had effectively wrestled control of this area from the Ulster Gaelic Clans until King James granted it to Sir Arthur Chichester.


Stormont Parliament Building completed 1932
Image: Tourism NI


Chichester, a major exponent of the Plantation, rebuilt Belfast Castle in 1611 and took firm control of the area. This transformed the region and soon a small town grew around the castle hosting a population of about 1,000. The planters were industrious trading in wool, hides, grain, butter and salted meat that were exported from Belfast to England, Scotland and France. Wine and fruit were imported from France and Spain. At the latter end of the 17th century, Belfast traded with the North American colonies and tobacco and sugar were imported from the West Indies and refined in Belfast. Other associated industries grew around this trade including brewing, rope making and sail making. By then the population had about doubled to around 2,000 and it was then swelled by French Protestants. They were fleeing religious persecution in their own country and by arriving in Belfast they brought with them linen weaving skills.


Titanic under construction in the Harland & Wolff yard
Image: Public Domain


By the early 18th century, the town had replaced Carrickfergus as the most important port in Ulster and additional accommodation was necessary for its very busy harbour. Many privately owned wharves were subsequently constructed on reclaimed land. Throughout the century trade continued to expand as Belfast assumed a greater role in the trading activities of the country as a whole. The rope-making industry thrived during the 19th century but it was linen that steadily grew to become Belfast's dominant industry. Linen was first woven in people's homes in the surrounding countryside and was not industrialised until the middle of the 19th century. Cotton spinning was introduced into Belfast in 1777 but it never had the same importance that linen had for which Belfast had become a centre of excellence.


Olympic and Titanic nearing completion
Image: Public Domain


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.


The Titanic Memorial in Belfast City Hall that was dedicated in June 1920
Image: Tourism NI


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.


Titanic's Dry Dock today
Image: Tourism NI


It was during the industrial peak that the world-leading Harland and Wolff shipyard created a ship that would capture the imagination of the world and propel Belfast onto the global stage. This was the ill-fated RMS Titanic; the most famous sailing vessel in maritime history.


Harland & Wolff Cranes Samson and Goliath and dry dock today
Image: Tourism NI


In its day the RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship ever built. Launched in 1911 she set off on her maiden voyage in 1912. Four days into the crossing, from Southampton to New York City, it struck an iceberg and sank in less than three hours. It took 1,517 people with her of which many were from the elite or leading figures of the time. It remains to this day one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.


Titanic Museum
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


Today, the story of this vessel is remembered in the Titanic Quarter directly adjacent to the berthing area in the Abercorn Basin which opened 100 years after the Titanic set sail. The world's largest Titanic-themed visitor attraction is part of a large-scale waterfront regeneration project on 185 acres (75 ha) of the once Harland and Wolff shipyard.


Titanica sculpture in front of Titanic Belfast
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


Comprising historic maritime landmarks, film studios, education facilities, apartments, and a riverside entertainment district it pays tribute to Belfast Harbour, the city and the technical talent that made the Titanic engineering world-beating. In its first 12 months, over 700,000 people visited the Titanic Quarter exceeding all forecasts.


The museum's replica of Titanic's grand staircase
Image: Belfast Titanic via CC BY 4.00


Today 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, and 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.

Belfast Harbour Marina provides a berth that is steeped in maritime history
Image: Tourism NI


From a boating perspective, the Abercorn Basin provides excellent shelter from all winds and safe easy access. It is one of the safest harbours to run to along this coast. But it also places a boatman in the heart of this historic city with its extensive facilities within a 20-minute walk from the pontoons. It also offers a rare and unique historic connection, a berth in the Harland and Wolff's cradle of the 'Titanic Port' with Belfast's Maritime Mile to be explored immediately ashore set off by the magnificent Titanic Museum.


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.







Aerial overview of the Titanic Quarter



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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!

Average Rating: ****

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