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Kircubbin

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Overview





Kircubbin is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, within and on the eastern shore of Strangford Lough six miles north of Strangford Narrows. It is a village situated at the head of Kircubbin Bay with a drying quay where vessels may anchor off or those that can take-to-the-bottom may dry out alongside. The bay is host to Kircubbin Sailing Club.

Kircubbin is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, within and on the eastern shore of Strangford Lough six miles north of Strangford Narrows. It is a village situated at the head of Kircubbin Bay with a drying quay where vessels may anchor off or those that can take-to-the-bottom may dry out alongside. The bay is host to Kircubbin Sailing Club.

This Kircubbin anchorage could only be described as tolerable as, despite offering good shelter from north through east to south, it is completely exposed to the prevailing westerlies. The Lough's enclosed body of water provides sheltered sailing in all weather, all tides and ample marks to make daylight navigation straightforward.



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Keyfacts for Kircubbin
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
November 7th 2022

Summary

A tolerable location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 29.460' N, 005° 32.340' W

The head of Kircubbin Pier.

What is the initial fix?

The following Sand Rock Pladdy Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 28.065' N, 005° 33.270' W
This is set on Track G of Admiralty Chart 2156's main fairways and is about 200 metres to the east of Sand Rock Pladdy.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details for vessels approaching Strangford Lough from the north are available in northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location. Details for vessels approaching from the south are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location. Details of the approaches, tidal timings, the run up The Narrows and onward to Killyleagh, on the Lough's western shore, are covered in the Entering and exiting Strangford Lough Route location route description.


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 Kircubbin for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Ballyhalbert Bay - 3.4 nautical miles E
  2. White Rock Bay - 3.4 nautical miles W
  3. Ballywalter - 3.6 nautical miles NE
  4. Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 3.8 nautical miles W
  5. Portavogie Harbour - 4.1 nautical miles ESE
  6. Ringhaddy Sound - 4.1 nautical miles SW
  7. Pawle Island - 4.3 nautical miles SW
  8. Simmy Island - 5.1 nautical miles SW
  9. Don O’Neill Island - 5.6 nautical miles SSW
  10. East Down Yacht Club - 5.8 nautical miles SW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Ballyhalbert Bay - 3.4 miles E
  2. White Rock Bay - 3.4 miles W
  3. Ballywalter - 3.6 miles NE
  4. Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 3.8 miles W
  5. Portavogie Harbour - 4.1 miles ESE
  6. Ringhaddy Sound - 4.1 miles SW
  7. Pawle Island - 4.3 miles SW
  8. Simmy Island - 5.1 miles SW
  9. Don O’Neill Island - 5.6 miles SSW
  10. East Down Yacht Club - 5.8 miles SW
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?
Kircubbin Quay with Kircubbin Sailing Club in the north end of the bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Kircubbin is a village with a population of about 1200 people on the eastern shores of Strangford Lough, between Newtownards and Portaferry, in the Borough of Ards. The village is fronted by an old stone quay and Kircubbin Sailing Club has its clubhouse, moorings and jetty at the north end of Kircubbin Bay.


Kircubbin Quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Anchor off the bay in a depth as required or vessels that can take to the bottom may dry over hard sand and lie alongside the old stone quay which dries but has up to 3 metres HWS. Moorings may also be possible by arrangement with the Kircubbin Sailing Club Landline+44 28 4273 8422, E-mailinfo@kircubbinsailingclub.ie, Mobile+44 (0)78 429 86993, or by their web site's web form External link.


How to get in?
Kircubbin Bay on the eastern Ards shore of Strangford Lough
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use the approaches, tidal timings, the run up The Narrows and onward to Killyleagh, on the Lough's western shore, as covered in the Entering and exiting Strangford Lough Route location route description. Proceed up the deep water fairway on the Lough’s eastern side using Admiralty Chart 2156's Track E and F. After the Long Sheela East Beacon, V.Q(3)10s4M, Track F bends northeastwards to connect to Track G at the commencement point of which is the position of the Sand Rock Pladdy Initial Fix.

The path to the Initial Fix passes between Gransha Point, extending into the lough from the eastern shore, and to the south of the Slave and Sand Rock Pladdies. This track is supported by two lateral buoys: Hoskyns Shoal Starboard Buoy, Fl.G.5s, and the Sand Rock Pladdy Port Buoy, Fl.R.5s, en route to the initial fix.


Approaches from the west and northwest are obstructed but possible
Image: Michael Harpur


Western Approach The western approach to Kircubbin is studded with numerous rocks, islets and boulder reefs or 'pladdies'. There are two well-used passages through these that offer a shortcut for vessels arriving from the west or northwest sides of the Lough. The first is to the south of Skart Rock and the latter through the Bird Island Passage situated to the south of the small Bird Island. Operating under power, with settled waters, with the benefit of real-time positioning, in daylight and paying specific attention to navigation it is possible to cut through these. Some of the islets never cover and many of the pladdies are marked by poles making for some fun pilotage. But the helm should keep its wits about it and maintain a watch for the effects of tidal streams.


The approaches as seen from the Kircubbin Sailing Club moorings
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location The Sand Rock Pladdy Initial Fix is set on Track G of Admiralty Chart 2156's main fairways 200 metres to the east of Sand Rock Pladdy. Track G passed Sand Rock Pladdy to port, on a bearing of 005° T for 1½ miles, or of the line of an astern bearing 185° T of the Gransha Point trigonometrical station.



Stand well of Monaghan Bank at the south end of the bay
Image: Michael Harpur


This passes a ½ mile east of Dullisk Rock and Whitebank Pladdy, both marked by poles, and passes 1½ miles along the Lough’s eastern shoreline until Kircubbin Bay opens between White Banks on the north and Monaghan Bank on the south. At about halfway along its track are two further lateral buoys, the Woman's Rock Port Buoy, Fl(2)R.8s, and Black Neb Starboard Buoy, Fl(2)G.8s.


Kircubbin Sailing Club situated on White Banks
Image: Michael Harpur


Continue on transit until Kircubbin Bay opens out fully and the village quay is directly abeam and due east. Then turn in towards the club mooring area and select an anchoring position. Vessels intending on coming into the quay should particularly avoid being tempted to cut in as foul ground extends 400 metres from the south side of the bay off Monaghan Bank.


Anchor outside the Kircubbin moorings
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor off the northern end of the bay clear of moorings, according to draught and conditions. Reasonable holding will be found in clean sand and mud with little or no tidal stream.


The club slipway is accessible at almost all states of the tide
Image: Michael Harpur


Land at the quay, off the town, at high water or the sailing club slipway that is accessible for almost all states of the tide.


The shelf extending out from the shore as seen at half tide
Image: Michael Harpur


Those intending on drying out should take care when approaching the quay. Kircubbin Bay shoals and a substantial sand flat extending out that dries some way off during low tide. The band of eelgrass marks the divide between the deepwater and the shallow shelf around the quay.


Yacht alongside the quay at Kircubbin
Image: Michael Harpur


In 2010 lights were set in place to support night access but this is only advisable for local boats.


Why visit here?
Kircubbin is thought to have derived its name from the Irish St Goban and was originally known as 'Kilcubin'. The name is the conjunction of the Gaelic version of church, 'Cill', and the Irish saint's name 'Gobáin' so it means 'church of 'Gobáin'. This later became Kirkcubbin from the Scots Gaelic word for church, 'kirk' although the current Irish language spelling of Kircubbin is 'Cill Ghobain',


Kircubbin's 18th century quay was the seed that grew the village
Image: Michael Harpur


The earliest mention of the area of Kircubbin is around 1300 when it was then an undeveloped bay. It was then referred to as "Cubynhullis in tenemento do Ynchemkargy", which translates as "Cubynhillis" 'Kircubbin on the property of "Ynchemkargy" 'Inishargie'. Inishargie, derived from 'Inis Mhic Cairrge' meaning 'MacCairrge’s island hill', was a nearby settlement established long before the village of Kircubbin. The earliest written record of Inishargie is from 1204 as noted as "eeclesiam de Ynchemackargi" 'the church of Inishargie' in the Papal chancery documents, Pontificia Hibernica of that year. Although small, the tiny Innishargie is the arch church of the mid-Ards Peninsula and is the most interesting unrestored building in the area. Its connections go back to the Order of St Benedict in AD 1200 and the early Church of Ireland. Reference is made to Kircubbin's Church of St. Medumy within the Ecclesiastical Taxation of 1306. This was located in an area known as Chapel Field, around 200 metres east of the present Main Street.


Kircubbin Quay is a quiet place today
Image: Michael Harpur


The village Kircubbin that is experienced today was established in 1769 as previous to this there were not more than five houses belonging to fishermen here. Regular gales and swells associated with the seaward side of the Ards Peninsula made safe berthing and beaching a challenge along this stretch of coastline. Kircubbin was one of only two practical locations on the Lough side, the other was Portaferry, where a depth of around 20 metres could be found close to shore allowing large vessels to anchor. This allowed ships of 100 tons to anchor safely and sometimes beach themselves safely on the shore. This meant that Kircubbin Bay had the practical geography to become an important commercial service centre for the area.


The pierhead feeling the force of the weather over time
Image: Michael Harpur


The first stone quay was constructed by James Bailie MP, (born 1724) that allowed vessels to dock at high tide, regularly hosting 40-ton vessels delivering coal and exporting potatoes and flour milled by numerous windmills along the Peninsula. This was the seed from which the village would grow. Following the securement of a patent to hold four annual fairs alongside a weekly market in Kircubbin, James Bailie divided the land there in 1769 into two-acre-sized building lots. These were leased at very low rates to encourage settlement on his land. Alongside this commercial traffic, the illicit trade in alcohol, tobacco and other contraband was also established. The smugglers plied their trade from Doctors Bay, immediately to the south of Kircubbin Bay, unloading their booty in the dead of night. Smugglers legends of Strangford Lough have been immortalised in the story of Daft Eddie.


The swaths of eelgrass feed overwintering Brent geese and wigeon
Image: Michael Harpur


By 1837 the 'Topographical Dictionary of Ireland' noted that Kircubbin comprised 117 houses and a flourishing export trade of straw hats and bonnets to England, Belfast and Dublin. Likewise, great quantities of kelp were burned and sent annually to Liverpool, and corn and potatoes were shipped to the markers of Liverpool and Glasgow. A thriving linen market was also held twice weekly during the 1830s. But in time the needs of commercial shipping would change and the last of the commercial ships came into the harbour during the 1950s.


Kircubbin Sailing Club offers a warm welcome to visiting craft
Image: Michael Harpur


Today the village is a quiet place and the harbour is used only for the occasional small fishing boat and leisure craft. The village appears relatively new because the main street was entirely modernised in 2008. Those venturing in will pass over the bay's dark green swaths of eelgrass just before the sandflats. These feed overwintering Brent geese and wigeon and also provide a nursery area for young flatfish. Kircubbin Sailing Club (KSC) is located at the north end of the bay. It took up residence in a stone-built Clubhouse and oar-house that was once a bathing hut of a prominent landowning family.


The view down the Lough to the Mournes as seen from the anchorage
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, situates on the eastern side of the Lough, with dominant south westerlies and miles of open water in which to build up the waves and little to dissipate them, Kircubbin is a fair-weather anchorage. But in favourable or settled conditions, it is one of only three gems on the western shore that give access to the treasures of the Ards peninsula and the Lough's most central. Moreover, visiting vessels are always made welcome at the Kircubbin Sailing Club.


What facilities are available?
Mooring requests should be made to the club, and their slipway is accessible at almost all stages of the tide. The club has a modest Club House with a function room, changing and shower facilities and a well-equipped kitchen. There is also a cosy Bar which serves a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It has many social activities for members, friends and families; expect regular BBQ's in the summer months.

There is a water tap available on the town quay. Fuel, by jerry can, is reasonably close to the quay on the outskirts of the town but the pumps may be subject to limited hours of opening. The village, with a population of 1250 people, offers basic shopping for provisions.

A regular Ards Peninsula bus service, operating through to Portaferry, passes through the town.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have happened to a vessel anchored off Kircubbin.


With thanks to:
Brian Crawford, local Strangford Lough boatman of many decades. eOceanic would like to thank Quoile Yacht Club External link for hosting our survey boat during the survey of Strangford Lough.







Aerial views of the anchorage at Kircubbin



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