Deep within Belfast Lough the anchorage provides good protection from almost all southerly component winds except west-by-southwest. Indeed in strong southerly winds, there is less tendency to roll here than in Bangor Harbour. The anchorage is entirely exposed however from west-by-southwest through west to north to east. Although unmarked there are no off-lying dangers in the area making access in daylight straightforward at any stage of the tide.
Keyfacts for Cultra
SummaryA good location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 39.240' N, 005° 49.055' W
This is the position of the seaward end of the ‘The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club’ jetty. The anchoring area is half a mile north of the jetty just outside the mooring area.
What is the initial fix?
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 after passing the port hand No. 4 marker turn to port and exit the fairway on a bearing of 200° T for the mooring area.
Not what you need?
- Newtownabbey - 1.5 miles NW
- Greenisland - 1.6 miles NNW
- Helen’s Bay - 2 miles ENE
- Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 2.1 miles N
- Belfast Harbour - 2.8 miles SW
- Bangor Harbour & Marina - 3.2 miles E
- Ballyholme Bay - 3.6 miles E
- Groomsport - 4.4 miles ENE
- Whitehead - 4.5 miles NNE
- Port Dandy - 5.9 miles E
How to get in?
Cultra is situated well inside and on the southern shores of Belfast Lough. It is situated about eight miles from the sea and off the entrance channel to Belfast City.
Set on the lough's southern shores the directions for nearby Bangor Harbour may be used for approaches to the area.
The Cultra 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 channel. This is the preferred route and the one that the harbour authorities encourage visiting vessels to use. However vessels approaching Cultra along the southern shore, provided advance permission is sought and agreed to by Belfast Harbour radio, will most likely find it possible to approach along the southern shore of the lough. A distance of half a mile off the southern shoreline from Grey Point clears all dangers.
From the initial fix, at the Fairway Light buoy, proceed to pass between the No. 3 Green buoy, Fl (3) G 7.5s plus the No. 4 Red buoy port hand marker Fl (2) R 5s that will be seen less than a mile and a half to the southwest.
After passing the No. 4 Red buoy port hand marker a vessel can turn to port and exit the fairway on a bearing of 200° T. The mooring areas is just over a mile from here and clearly marked on Admiralty Chart 1753.
Anchor in 3.5 to 4 metres outside the yacht mooring area. Moorings maintained by the club may be made available to visitors by prior arrangement with the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.
Likewise, vessels that can take-to-the-hard may dry out in the mooring area off nearby Holywood to facilitate provisioning.
Why visit here?Cultra, in Gaelic Cúl Trá, is a shortened form of Ballycultra, Baile Chúl Trá, meaning ‘townland of the back of the strand’. The coastal area lies within the townland of Ballycultra the area of which stretches inland to the Craigantlet Hills. In the late 17th century Ballycultra was occasionally abbreviated to ‘Cultra’ and, although better known by the shortened name, the full name of Ballycultra remains the official name of the townland.
Situated 11km east of Belfast city Cultra today can be considered a residential city suburb. With its attractive sea views combined with tree-lined avenues and relatively easy road and rail transport links to central Belfast, it is considered to be one of Northern Ireland's most affluent districts and is often referred to as the "Gold Coast". From a visitor perspective, Cultra is perhaps most famous for the Ulster Folk and Transport Museums that it hosts.
The Folk Museum enables visitors to step back one hundred years and experience the way of life in early 20th century Ulster. It opens with an introductory gallery in a modern main building depicting Ulster's social history. This presents arrays of artefacts in imaginative and informative displays depicting the past agricultural and domestic life. Around this is the very realistic open-air ‘Ballycultra town’ that is set in 70-hectares (173-acre) of rolling countryside.
The structures are enhanced by costumed guides demonstrating the traditional crafts. Open from 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday this is a paid admission museum but well worth it.
Active hikers might find the ‘North Down Coastal Path’ attractive. Commencing at Holywood train station, it traces the Lough’s entire southern shoreline past Bangor and out to Orlock Point for a total distance of 15km.
From a boating perspective, Cultra presents another anchorage close to the City of Belfast with plenty of interest ashore that includes a very welcoming sailing club.
Image: Eskling CC BY-SA 2.0
What facilities are available?Drinking water may be obtained from the Yacht Club that has a newly refurbished bar and dining room where visitor’s custom is appreciated. The club also has a small boatyard where there is a slip for craft up to 20 tons. There are several other local pubs also in the vicinity.
Fuel is available at the Shell and BP Filling Stations on the main road into Holywood. Both have ATM's as do the branches of the major banks in Holywood High Street, which with a population of 10 – 18,000 has very good shopping. There is a chandlery within 5 minutes’ drive from the club and also one in Belfast city.
Cultra is situated 11km east of Belfast on the Belfast to Bangor train line with trains stopping every half hour or so, and also buses from Belfast's Laganside bus centre. 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?Never an incident known to have happened to a vessel anchored off Cultra.
With thanks to:Michael Evans, Deputy Harbour Master, Belfast Harbour. Photography Albert Bridge, Raymond Mc Sherry, Rossographer, Robert Ashby, Jonny Baillie and Eric Jones.
The following is a promotional video for the RNIYC.
The following video presents various views around Cultra.
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