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 enclosed stretch of water provides shelter sailing in all weather, all tides and has ample marks to make daylight navigation straightforward.
Keyfacts for Kircubbin
SummaryA tolerable location with attentive navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 29.460' N, 005° 32.340' W
The head of Kircubbin Pier.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
Not what you need?
- Ballyhalbert Bay - 2.1 miles E
- White Rock Bay - 2.3 miles W
- Ballydorn and Down Cruising Club - 2.4 miles W
- Ballywalter - 2.5 miles NNE
- Ringhaddy Sound - 2.5 miles SW
- Portavogie Harbour - 2.6 miles ESE
- Pawle Island - 2.7 miles SW
- Simmy Island - 3.2 miles SW
- Don O’Neill Island - 3.4 miles SSW
- East Down Yacht Club - 3.6 miles SW
How to get in?
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 harbour contains leisure craft, yachts, and a sailing club.
Please note along with numerous rocks, islets and islands the Lough has a number of drying patches and shoals known as ‘pladdies’. Some of these uncover whilst others never appear. Pladdies situated near principal boating channels are however typically marked by poles or beacons. The Lough’s currents also complicate navigation. Although not as strong as those of the Narrows they do not tend to run true in the inner Lough and take vessels off course. All of the above make it advisable for newcomers to have good charts and conduct all boat movements in daylight paying specific attention to navigation.
However this is more than manageable as once a boat is out of the fast-running tidal channel to the south, the more gentle waters around the islands that gave this Lough its old Irish name ‘Lough Cuan’, meaning sheltered haven, are a pleasure to sail.
Details of the approaches, tidal timings and the run up the Narrows to about a ½ below Strangford are covered in the Entering and exiting the Strangford Narrows route description.
After passing through the Narrows proceed up the deep water fairway on the Lough’s eastern side. This is Track E and F, for those using Admiralty Chart 2156 ‘Strangford Lough’, until south of the Slave Rock pladdies. The path then switches to Track G and turns to the northeast. This continues to Kircubbin Bay between Gransha Point, extending into the lough from the eastern shore, and to the south of the Slave and Sand Rock Pladdies.
The Sand Rock Initial Fix is located 200 metres east of Sand Rock Pladdy. The route turns north passing Sand Rock Pladdy to port, on a bearing of 005° T for 1.5 miles, or of the line of bearing 185°T, astern, of the Gransha Point trigonometrical station. This passes half a mile east of Dullisk Rock and Whitebank Pladdy that are marked by poles.
Kircubbin Bay is entered between White Banks on the north and Monaghan Bank on the south. It is recommended that visitors stay on this transit and do not come inshore or cut into Kircubbin Bay until the bay opens out fully and the village quay is directly abeam, due east, before turning in to select an anchoring position. This wide approach avoids foul ground that extends 400 metres from the south side of the bay off Monaghan Bank.
Anchor off the northern end of the bay clear of moorings, in a depth to your preference. Reasonable holding will be found in clean sand and mud and there is little or no tidal stream. Land at the quay, off the town, or the sailing club slipway that is accessible for almost all states of the tide.
Image: Michael Parry via CC BY SA 2.0
With their permission moorings may be available from the local club. Boats that can take-to-the-hard can approach the drying quay, and boats with a draught of up to 3 metres can come alongside the quay at HW.
Why visit here?Kircubbin is thought to have derived its name from the Irish Saint Goban. The name being the conjunction of the Scots Kirk and Irish saints name Gobáin meaning "church of Gobáin".
Although appearing relatively new, largely owing to the main street being entirely modernised in 2008, there has been a long history of settlement here. The village (then known as Cubinhillis) and the tiny church of Innishargie are mentioned in early medieval records. Although small, Innishargie is the arch church of the mid-Ards Peninsula and is the most interesting unrestored building in the area. It’s connections go back to the Order of St Benedict in AD 1200 and the early Church of Ireland.
The town of Kircubbin developed into being an important commercial service centre for the area. The Quay hosted 40-ton vessels delivering coal and exporting potatoes and corn from the local area. 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 last of the commercial ships came into the harbour in the 1950s and nowadays there is no commercial traffic, only fishing and leisure craft.
Kircubbin Sailing Club (KSC) is located at the north end of the bay. It is situated in a stone built Clubhouse and oar-house that was once a bathing hut of a prominent landowning family. Visiting yachts are always made welcome at the 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. 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. Kircubbin Sailing Club has many social activities for members, friends and families; expect regular BBQ's in summer months.
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. Photography with thanks to Eric Jones, Ronan Magee, Albert Bridge and Sue Adair.
Aerial views of the anchorage at Kircubbin - 4:30 seconds in.
Add your review or comment:
Please log in to leave a review of this haven.
Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.