Deep within Belfast Lough the anchorage provides good protection from northwest through north to northeast. It is entirely exposed from east through south to southwest. Whilst subject to very little westerly fetch, winds from this direction tend to be accelerated as they funnel down the valley into the lough. Access is straightforward at any stage of the tide but as the anchorage itself is unmarked daylight is preferred.
Keyfacts for Newtownabbey
SummaryA good location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 40.758' N, 005° 52.177' W
This is the position of the old Newtownabbey Boat Club moorings. It is situated half a mile south by southeast of the club slip where 2 – 3 metres can be found.
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 turnoff to starboard at the No. 3 green marker and head for the mooring area.
Not what you need?
- Greenisland - 0.7 miles NE
- Cultra - 1.5 miles SE
- Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 1.7 miles NE
- Belfast Harbour - 2.9 miles SSW
- Helen’s Bay - 3 miles E
- Bangor Harbour & Marina - 4.3 miles E
- Whitehead - 4.5 miles NE
- Ballyholme Bay - 4.7 miles E
- Groomsport - 5.4 miles E
- Magheramorne Point - 5.6 miles NNE
How to get in?
Newtownabbey is situated at the head of Belfast Lough about two miles north of the entrance to 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. 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.
Newtownabbey is located within the Port of Belfast where all boat movements are controlled and managed. Boats operating in the Port of Belfast area must do so under power with sails down taking care not to impede commercial traffic. Belfast Harbour radio maintains Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) for the Belfast Lough area. All vessels are required to report to Belfast Harbour radio on VHF Channel 12 or 16 or by telephone on +44 2890 553504 well in advance of arrival and advise them of your intentions.
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 No.1 and No.2 mark the entrance to the Belfast Lough 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 up to the No. 3 Green starboard hand marker. 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 outside to the northeast, or starboard, side of the channel up to the No. 3 starboard marker. Here a vessel can turn to starboard and exit the fairway on a bearing of 260° T. The mooring area is just over two miles from here and the ‘Newtownabbey Boat Club’ vessels should be highly visible.
Anchor in sand in 2 to 3 metres outside the yacht moorings or half a mile offshore. Keep well clear of the protected shellfish beds in the surrounding area where anchoring is prohibited.
Land by dinghy on the shoreline where the old club slip is located.
Why visit here?Newtownabbey, in Irish Baile na Mainistreach was created in 1958 out of the existing villages of Carnmoney, Glengormley, Jordanstown, Monkstown, Whitehouse, Whitewell and Whiteabbey. The latter Whiteabbey provided the final element of the place-name which refers to a 13th-century abbey that once existed in that townland of which no trace remains today. The area was awarded the status of a borough in the seventies after the village of Ballyclare and its rural hinterland was also included. It is now considered a residential continuation of Belfast.
Rural in appearance today, with the district's light agricultural activity centred around Ballyclare, Newtownabbey largely derives its income from Belfast City. Most of its population work in the capitals modern industrial complex, manufacturing textiles, telephones and tyres. Jordanstown was a semi-rural district until the 1950s when it expanded rapidly with housing development. It has recently been voted the fifth most attractive place to live in Northern Ireland. The combination of the adjacent Belfast Lough, wonderful parkland and a convenient railway station, providing access to Belfast city centre, makes it a highly attractive location for Northern Ireland’s middle classes.
The seafront park immediately ashore, called Loughshore Park, hosts various events throughout the year including the three-day ‘Loughshore Festival’ in the last weekend in August. Likewise, early season sailors can come here to experience one of Ireland’s oldest horse fairs, the ‘Ballyclare May Fair’. Horse dealers from all corners of Ireland converge here to create a unique market of dealing and haggling.
For those who prefer the quieter life Jordanstown, Loughshore and Hazelbank Park provide some of the best shoreline walks around Belfast Lough. A wide variety of birds may be observed feeding on the mudflats and roosting on favoured parts of the shoreline at high water. These include Oystercatchers, Great Crested Grebes, Redshanks, Curlews, Dunlins and Black-tailed Godwits.
Newtownabbey offers the cruising boatman good north-westerly protection and a lot more. The open spaces of its semi-rural location with close proximity to arts, entertainment venues, nightlife and the hustle and bustle of Belfast City, make it a very useful location for the coastal cruiser.
What facilities are available?Except for the slip ‘Newtownabbey Boat Club’ has no other facilities. Nearby Newtownabbey has very good shopping facilities to service its population of 80,000, but Jordanstown immediately ashore, has very little to cater for its smaller settlement of 5,500 people. The nearest shops to the anchoring position are at Whiteabbey approximately one mile along the shoreline towards Belfast.
Newtownabbey is situated on the train line just under a dozen kilometres northeast of Belfast which 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. Both are within a twenty-minute drive of Newtownabbey. 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 Newtownabbey.
With thanks to:Michael Evans, Deputy Harbour Master, Belfast Harbour. Photography with thanks to Albert Thompson, Robert Ashby, Albert Bridge, Keith Ruffles, Albert Thompson, Alan in Belfast and University of Ulster.
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