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Fenit Harbour

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Overview





Fenit Harbour is located on the west coast of Ireland, to the south of the Shannon Estuary and within the southeast corner of Tralee Bay. It is a fishing village with a small commercial port that offers a marina for leisure craft and the opportunity to anchor adjacent to the harbour area.

Fenit Harbour is located on the west coast of Ireland, to the south of the Shannon Estuary and within the southeast corner of Tralee Bay. It is a fishing village with a small commercial port that offers a marina for leisure craft and the opportunity to anchor adjacent to the harbour area.

The marina provides complete protection. Safe access is available in reasonable conditions, at any stage of the tide, day or night with very good leading lights and markers for night access.
Please note

Tralee Bay has a ledge that can be divisive in a big seaway in highly adverse conditions. The better option for those caught out and running for shelter in an extreme situation would be the River Shannon.




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Keyfacts for Fenit Harbour
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2.7 metres (8.86 feet).

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



Last modified
September 7th 2022

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged



HM  +353 667 136231     Club  +353 66 7136119      fenitharbour@eircom.net      Ch.16 / 14 /M [Fenit Harbour Port Manager]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 16.230' N, 009° 51.550' W

This is the northeastern end of the pier where a 12 metre high vertical light stands F2 visible 148°-058° for 3 miles.

What is the initial fix?

The following Fenit Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 16.074' N, 009° 53.174' W
This is a quarter of a mile southwest of Samphire Light.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location.

  • Pass about 3 miles to the north of the Magharee Islands .

  • Then, midway between Mucklaghbeg, the easternmost of the Magharee Islands and Mucklaghmore.

  • Alternatively use Magharee Sound.

  • Steer on Little Samphire with its lighthouse.

  • Round the former passing 400 metres to the southwest until the southern shore of Little Samphire (the harbour) is due east and procced.

  • Keep 150 metres off the southern shoreline.


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 Fenit Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Barrow Harbour - 1.7 nautical miles NNW
  2. Castlegregory - 5.3 nautical miles W
  3. Illauntannig - 6.7 nautical miles WNW
  4. Scraggane Bay - 6.8 nautical miles WNW
  5. Brandon Bay - 11 nautical miles W
  6. Kells Bay - 17.2 nautical miles SSW
  7. Dingle Harbour - 17.3 nautical miles WSW
  8. Kilbaha Bay - 17.9 nautical miles N
  9. Ross Bay - 19 nautical miles N
  10. Carrigaholt Bay - 20.7 nautical miles NNE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Barrow Harbour - 1.7 miles NNW
  2. Castlegregory - 5.3 miles W
  3. Illauntannig - 6.7 miles WNW
  4. Scraggane Bay - 6.8 miles WNW
  5. Brandon Bay - 11 miles W
  6. Kells Bay - 17.2 miles SSW
  7. Dingle Harbour - 17.3 miles WSW
  8. Kilbaha Bay - 17.9 miles N
  9. Ross Bay - 19 miles N
  10. Carrigaholt Bay - 20.7 miles NNE
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?
Fenit Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Fenit Harbour is situated in the southeast corner of Tralee Bay ⅔ of a mile southeast by east of Little Samphire light. Originally, this was a 10-metre high Great Samphire Rock, that was developed with piers, running north and east, and joined to the mainland by an 800-metre bridge. This historically served as the merchant's port for Tralee.


Fenit Harbour as seen from the mainland
Image: Michael Harpur


It has since been further developed with 250-metre long L shaped piers and breakwaters that enclose a fishing quay and a marina in its northern half. There is also an RNLI station that launches from the marina, sailing and fishing clubs. The corresponding small fishing village of Fenit sits on the opposite mainland side of the bridge.


Yacht in Fenit Marina
Image: Tourism Ireland


The harbour is managed by Tralee & Fenit Harbour Commissioners. The marina accommodates vessels with draughts of up to 5 metres and 15 metres LOA. It has 130 all-tide berths of which 15 are reserved for visitors. The marina may be contacted VHF Ch. 16 / 14 (working) /M [Fenit Harbour Port Manager], Landline+353 (0) 667 136231, Mobile+353 (0) 97460516, E-mailfenitharbour@eircom.net. If the visitor berths are all occupied it may be possible to loan a vacant mooring buoy from Tralee Bay Sailing Club Landline+353 (0) 667 136119.


How to get in?
Fenit Harbour is situated in the southeast corner of Tralee Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches. Fenit Harbour lies in the southwest corner of Tralee Bay the entrance to which is a little over 5 miles wide between Magharee Islands and Kerry Head.


Illauntannig, the conjoined islets of Illaunturlogh and Minnaun, and Mucklaghbeg from the southwest
with Mucklaghmore just visible in the distance

Image: Michael Harpur


The approach to the harbour from seaward is by passing about 3 miles north of the Magharee Islands and then passing in about midway between Mucklaghbeg, the easternmost of the Magharee Islands and Mucklaghmore, 30 metres high, and steering on Little Samphire with its lighthouse.


The distinctive 30 metre high Mucklaghmore with The Rose seen to the right
Image: Maoileann via CC ASA 4.0


By night hold the course 3 miles north of the Magharee Islands until the white sector of Little Samphire light is acquired: 262°-Red-275°, 280-Red-090°-Green-140°-White-152°-R-172°.

Little Samphire – lighthouse Fl WRG 5s 17m W16M position: 52° 16. 254’N, 009° 52.909’W

The white sector, bearing 140°-152° T, will then carry a vessel through the dangers on either side of the bay, the shoals off the Magharee Islands on one side and Mucklaghmore, Illaunnabarnagh, Boat Rock, The Rose plus the shoal water off Fenit Island on the other.


Little Samphire as seen from the south
Image: Maoileann via CC ASA 4.0


There is also a cut from the west between the Magharee Islands and the head of the peninsula through Magharee Sound detailed in Navigating through Magharee Sound south of the Islands Route location. Magharee Sound is narrow and involved with the least depth of 4.5 metres. In moderate or clear weather and with a favourable tide, there is no great difficulty in running through this cut that saves at least an hour from the passage whilst adding interesting sailing. Once clear of the extensive shallows east of the Magharees and Rough Point on the head of the peninsula, steer for Little Samphire Island.

Whichever approach is taken, the path to the initial fix is then about 5 miles across the bay to a position close southwest of Little Samphire with its light in the southeast corner. On closer approaches, especially from a northern approach, break off to pass Little Samphire Island about 400 metres off its southwest side as it sits on the outer edge of the foul ground that extends to the shore on its northeast side.


Little Samphire Island and the harbour as seen from the southern shore
Image: Maoileann via CC ASA 4.0


Initial fix location The Fenit Harbour initial fix is set about 400 metres southwest of Little Samphire where it is safe to alter course to steer to pass close south of Great Samphire Island, upon which the harbour is built. This is directly east (bearing 090° T) and a little under a mile distant.


Fenit Harbour with Wheel Rock (bottom left)
Image: Michael Harpur


Great Samphire Island will be more than conspicuous on approach and its 800-metre bridge to the mainland. Likewise, the modern working fishing and manufacturing facility along with fuel tanks will be clearly visible on the island. At night the quick red situated on the southwestern corner of the harbour will be seen visible 242° - 097° T.


Little Samphire and Wheel Rock at dusk
Image: Bernard Healy via CC ASA 4.0


Be careful not to drift northward whilst proceeding to the harbour as the marked, but unlit, Wheel Rock that dries to 3.5 metres lies to the west-northwest of Great Samphire Island.

On closer approaches, the rock footing of Great Samphire Island and the outer wall of the harbour's 250-metre long breakwater will be seen extending east by northeast from the island. Give this a berth of 150 metres and there will be no less than 5.6 metres LAT available drifting out about 300 metres south or east and the water starts to shallow. By night the southeast end of the island and wall will be floodlight and has port lights in the southwest corner, Q.R.15m 3M, middle, Fl.R.6m3M and above the pierhead on the northeast end, 2F.R.(vert) 12m 3M.


Keep 150 metres off the south-eastern side of the Great Samphire and the pier
wall

Image: Michael Harpur


On reaching the end of the breakwater alter course to round the pierhead for the harbour's northeast-facing entrance, keeping a sharp eye out for exiting traffic emerging from behind the pier. The bottom shoals rapidly on the north side of the entrance fairway so in the event of meeting a vessel do not give way in that direction. Within the entrance, the inner commercial pier will be seen ahead and the marina immediately to starboard around the head of the breakwater, with the marina entrance Iso R.6s to port, Iso G.6s to starboard.


Fenit Marina Pontoon Plan
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Berth as directed by prior contact with the harbour office, the pontoons commence with C and end with A. The visitor berths are usually on hammerheads, A13/14, B15/16 or C25/26. If a berth has not been prearranged and the visitor berths are occupied, raft up on the end pontoon and seek guidance.

It is also possible to anchor in 3 metres to the lee of the island and harbour near other moored boats clear of the fairway and out of the way of harbour traffic. There is plenty of swing room and holding is very good. It can be choppy in any developed conditions, especially from the east, northeast plus southeast. Sadly the causeway between the island and the mainland is an open bridge. Hence it offers little protection to anchored craft from any seaway.


Why visit here?
Fenit derives its name from the Irish 'An Fhianait' meaning 'the wild place'. The seaport dates back to 1887 but maritime connections go back to early Christian times, for close north of the village is the birthplace of St Brendan 'The Voyager'.

'Saint Brendan and the Whale' from a 15th-century manuscript
Image: Public Domain
Born in 484 AD St Brendan learned boat making and seamanship in and around Fenit Island. He was ordained around 512 AD and founded many monastic cells throughout Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Central amongst these achievements was the great school of Clonfert. In honour of his achievements many of the places where he stayed are believed to have been named after him such as Mount Brandon which overlooks the harbour from the west. Brendan’s epic feat of seamanship came about in his later years and legend has it that it stemmed from a visit to the summit of Bandon Mountain where he looked… 'and far away before the setting sun he saw a blue fairy sea and golden fairy islands, and he said, "These are the islands of the blest.". From that moment he dreamed 'of some more sunny clime, beyond the waste of waters'.

It was a dream that compelled him to build a large currach of wood and leather in Westport, County Mayo. And from the tiny inlet between cliffs below Mouth Brandon, 1¾ miles eastward of Ballydavid Head and therafter called Brandon Cove, he would set out into the Atlantic on an ambitious westbound voyage. It is believed that during this incredible expedition he was the first western European to discover the then-unknown continent of America.

Latin texts of Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, 'The Voyage of St. Brendan, the Abbot', dating back to at least 800 AD recount this voyage. It tells the story of Brendan’s seven-year voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the new land and his return.

Tim Severin in 2007
Image: Aaron R. Linderman via GFDL
Descriptions in his manuscripts describe the volcanoes of Iceland, the fauna of the Faeroes, the Icebergs of Greenland and the fogs of Newfoundland. It is alleged that Christopher Columbus was so influenced by the story of St Brendan’s voyage, that he relied on Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis as proof of America's existence and was a central driver of his ambitions.

The maritime adventurer Tim Severin was also convinced that the legend was true that he chose to replicate the voyage. He built a 36-foot two-masted replica of Brendan’s currach that was entirely handcrafted by traditional tools from Irish ash and oak. It was hand-lashed together with nearly two miles of leather thong, wrapped with 49 traditionally tanned ox hides, and sealed with wool grease. He set out from the same departure point and between May 1976 and June 1977, Severin and his crew sailed the Brendan 4,500 miles from Ireland to Newfoundland via Scotland, the Faeroes and Iceland. His recreation of the voyage helped identify the bases for many of the legendary elements: the 'island of sheep', the 'paradise of birds', the 'pillars of crystal', the 'mountains that hurled rocks at voyagers', and the 'promised land'. His account of the expedition, 'The Brendan Voyage', became a TV documentary and an international bestseller that was translated into 16 languages.


Brendan statue at the summit of Great Samphire Rock
Image: Michael Harpur


At the age of 93, St Brendan took his final voyage to his ecclesiastic promised land. He was then taken to Clonfert, where he was buried and now rests in peace. Today St Brendan is the patron saint of Sailors, Fisherman and Travellers and the US Navy. He is commemorated in Fenit by his towering commemorative bronze statue, located on the peak of Great Samphire Rock.


Saint Brendan statue pointing westward
Image: Michael Harpur


In later history, Fenit traditionally served as the merchant port for Tralee being the only deep-water port between Foynes, on the River Shannon, and Cork. In the middle of the 19th-century, large-scale emigration to the USA and Canada took place from Tralee. At the height of the famine between 1848 and 1855, the Jeanie Johnston, originally built in Quebec, made 16 voyages from here to Quebec, Baltimore, and New York. On average, the length of the transatlantic journey was 47 days, with the most passengers from Tralee to Quebec being 254. Despite the number of passengers, the long voyage, and the reputation of these ships being 'Coffin Ships', no crew or passenger lives were ever lost on board the Jeanie Johnston. This is generally attributed to the captain, not overloading the ship and the presence of a qualified doctor on board for the passengers.


St Brendan's commemorative statue on the peak of Great Samphire Rock.
Image: Michael Harpur


In 2000 a magnificent replica of the ship was built to commemorate the exodus. It performs a number of functions: an ocean-going sail training vessel at sea and in port converts into a living history museum on 19th-century emigration and, in the evenings, is used as a corporate event venue. Its home berth and registered port is Fenit harbour but it is normally moored off Custom House Quay, Dublin. The replica ship, almost identical save for new technologies, is only licensed to carry 40 people including the crew.


Jeanie Johnston moored off Custom House Quay, Dublin
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


Today the port continues to cater for commercial shipping, fishing, and since 1997 the marina. Fenit village only has basic amenities but does have an all-important grocery shop for the restocking of provisions. It also has ample characterful pubs and sublime seafood restaurants which capitalise on the fishing port and pull in the crowds from Tralee. Visitors can enjoy the Irish charm of the area by walking the unspoilt blue flag beaches or following the St Brendan historic trail. An interesting excursion is to take a 20-minute tour boat trip from Fenit harbour to Little Samphire Island lighthouse is now open for visitors to explore along with the fascinating history of the island.


Fenit offers a berth in an area of outstanding natural beauty
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, Fenit is a completely sheltered harbour and marina with adequate provisioning and with the principal town of Tralee, six miles eastward, there should be more than enough capabilities immediately to hand. For passage makers, it is also an ideal secure coastal stepping stone being within a day's sail of Dingle and Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary. From a leisure perspective, it is surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty and the inland attractions such as the aforementioned picturesque tourist town of Tralee but also and Killarney. This makes the perfect base to engage this coastline either by land or sea.


What facilities are available?
The modern marina and Tralee Bay Sailing Club who have a slipway and clubhouse overlooking the harbour and bay can offer visitors showers and changing rooms and a licensed bar. Electricity and water are available on the pontoons. There is a diesel berth on the north part of the marina. Disabled sailors have a lift for getting on and off a pontoon. Gas is not stocked but the marina manager can organise Camping Gaz. An all-terrain mobile crane (80 tonnes) facility is available, rates available upon request. Tralee Bay Sailing Club may have a visitors' mooring available, and the club has a slip and a drying pontoon that welcomes visitors.

The small village has the basics to cater for a local population of about 430 via one general store/PO with limited supplies. More can be obtained at Tralee which is 12km (8m) away. Tralee has a main line railway station with direct links to Dublin and Cork. The national bus network has a hub in Tralee, with several daily connections to the airports at Shannon and Cork. Kerry Regional Airport is 30Km from Fenit, with daily flights to Dublin and London, and flights to other European destinations throughout the week. Shannon International Airport is 140Km away, and Cork International Airport is 134Km from Fenit.

The roadway system to Fenit is excellent, having been upgraded to accommodate the transportation of large crane components. Tralee is serviced by national routes N21, N22, N69 and N70 allowing stress-free driving to the airports at Cork and Shannon, both two hour’s drive away.


Any security concerns?
Fenit marina features a security gate and CCTV surveillance.


With thanks to:
Batty McCarthy, Fenit Harbour Master.







Fenit lighthouse and harbour



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