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Bofin Harbour

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Overview





Bofin Harbour is the main harbour of Inishbofin a small island off the west coast of Ireland. The harbour lies on the south side of the island and offers a deep water anchorage and an inner shallow pool each with a quay nearby.

The small harbour offers good protection the inner harbour almost complete shelter. Attentive navigation is however required at its entrance as it is obstructed by some rocky patches and it is subject to a rough sea state with a heavy swell for tidal reasons. However, a choice of range marks during moderate conditions, night or day and at any stage of the tide facilitates entry. But it is nonetheless narrow and difficult for newcomers to enter or exit with any heavy winds or southwesterly swell on.
Please note

During strong southwesterly winds or a heavy swell, entrance and particularly exit can be difficult if not impossible.




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Keyfacts for Bofin Harbour
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideMini-supermarket or supermarket availableShore 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 locationMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBicycle hire available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierLittle air protection

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
February 29th 2020

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideMini-supermarket or supermarket availableShore 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 locationMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBicycle hire available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierLittle air protection



Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 36.678' N, 010° 12.759' W

This is the usual anchoring position to the southwest of the outer pier.

What is the initial fix?

The following Bofin Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
53° 35.625' N, 010° 13.895' W
This is a mile eastward of Inishgort and just over a mile from the harbour entrance and on the white sector of the modern Port Entry Light 021°.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in Western Ireland’s coastal overview from Slyne Head to Erris Head Route location.

  • Enter on the white sector of the harbour's modern Port Entry Light 021° T that show 5° sectors either side, Red to the west, Green to the east.

  • Turn into the harbour when the ruins of the Cromwellian fort comes abeam.


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 Bofin Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Cleggan Bay - 3 miles SE
  2. Inishturk - 4.4 miles NE
  3. Fahy Bay - 4.8 miles ESE
  4. Ballynakill Harbour - 5.3 miles ESE
  5. Clifden Boat Club - 5.8 miles SE
  6. Mannin Bay - 6.2 miles SSE
  7. Clifden - 6.2 miles SE
  8. Bunowen Bay - 7.9 miles SSE
  9. Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 8 miles E
  10. Clare Island - 9.1 miles NE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Cleggan Bay - 3 miles SE
  2. Inishturk - 4.4 miles NE
  3. Fahy Bay - 4.8 miles ESE
  4. Ballynakill Harbour - 5.3 miles ESE
  5. Clifden Boat Club - 5.8 miles SE
  6. Mannin Bay - 6.2 miles SSE
  7. Clifden - 6.2 miles SE
  8. Bunowen Bay - 7.9 miles SSE
  9. Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 8 miles E
  10. Clare Island - 9.1 miles NE
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?
Bofin Harbour as seen from the east
Image: Jack Kelly External link


Bofin Habour is situated on the southern side of the small island of Inishbofin that lies around about 5 miles off the Connemara coast opposite of Ballinakill Harbour and Cleggan Bay. The island has a population of around 200 people and it is connected to the mainland by a ferry service, that operates from Boffin Harbour, as well as an airstrip and a helipad. The harbour has two quays situated off its northern shore, Inishbofin Main Pier from which the ferries operate and Inishbofin Inner Pier which was the original pier that can be reached through a dredged channel. On the southeastern side of the entrance stands the historic ruins of a Cromwellian fort and barracks.


The island ferry coming alongside Inishbofin Main Pier
Image: Jack Kelly External link


The small secure secure harbour offers good protection and is considered one of the best berths along these shores. Shoal draft vessels that can take to the bottom will find almost complete protection in the pool within the inner harbour.


How to get in?
Inishbofin as seen from the northwest
Image: Jack Kelly External link


Convergance Point Use western Ireland’s coastal overview from Slyne Head to Erris Head Route location for approaches. The small island of Inishbofin rises to three peaks of almost equal elevation, the highest being West Quarter Hill that rises to 85 metres near its western end. Including Inishlyon, which at low water is united to Inishbofin by a ledge of rocks, it is about 3½ miles in length east-southeast and 1¾ west-northwest across at the widest part.

The island lies at the centre of an extensive group of rocks, islands and breakers extending 8 miles east and west. The northern side of the island is bold and steep-to with no off-lying dangers. All other shores and sounds are foul and any approach to the group from seaward in poor visibility or during a high swell must be made with great caution.


Bofin Harbour's white beacon tower on Gun Rock
Image: Andreas F. Borchert via CC BY-SA 2.0


Bofin Harbour lies on the southern side of Inishbofin. Its position may be readily identified from seaward by a high round white beacon tower that stands on Gun Rock that is situated on the east side of the entrance. The tower stands 12 metres high (6.7-metre above high water) and has a lit beacon, white column on a white hut Fl(2)6s8m4M, standing close by.

The entrance is obstructed by some covered rocky patches which occupy at least half its width. Amongst which the Bishop Rock which dries to 1.4 metes and is located about 300 metres west of Gun Rock, and this must be avoided. The fairway lies between the rocky patches on the west and Gun Rock on the eastern side of the entrance. A choice of two range marks lead through the entrance.


Both range marks on the north shore with the towers in transit
Image: © PETER CRAVEN


Initial fix location The initial fix is set on the white sector of the harbour's modern Port Entry Light 021° T. It shows a narrow white sector centred on 021°T with 5° sectors either side, Red to the west, Green to the east. As illustrated, the leading light is usually bright enough to be seen in daylight. Simply follow the white lead into the harbour on a bearing of 021° T.


The two white towers with the Gun Rock beacon right
Image: Graham Rabbits


An alternate range mark is the historical alignment of two white towers on the northeastern side of the harbour. These lie close east of the Port Entry Light and safely lead in when inline at 032° T. However, this range passes somewhat unnecessarily close to the east of a covered rocky area lying about 150 metres southwestward from the beacon on Gun Rock which has 1.2 metres of water LAT over it. It also passes unnecessarily close to Gun Rock itself. It is for this reason that the modern Port Entry Light is prefered but the towers still serve well the alignments pinch points easily avoided by coming slightly eastward of the transit outside Gun Island and standing a little westward of the transit off Gun Island itself. Either approach may be selected depending on the conditions, but make certain that there should be no confusion between them.


Ferry continuing past Gun Rock until the Cromwellian fort is abeam
Image: Jack Kelly External link


Once inside the entrance, any rough seaway quickly abates. Continue on tranit untill the ruins of the Cromwellian fort comes abeam afterwhich it is then safe to turn into the harbour.


Yacht anchored across from Inishbofin Main Pier
Image: Joanna Paterson via CC BY-SA 2.0


Haven location Anchor in about 3 metres, midway between Port Island and the Inishbofin Main Pier, Fl(2).R.8s at its head, on the northern shore. Holding over hard sand is not the best so take care to get the anchor well in.


Do not anchor in such a fashion as to impede the ferry's manoeuvring capability
Image: Jack Kelly External link


Inishbofin Main Pier is the principal pier used by the ferries so it is essential not to anchor in such a fashion as to impede their ferries approaches to the pier. Because of its constant ferry usage, the new pier is not available for leisure craft and is subject to scend in any case.


Yacht anchored in Boffin Harbour
Image: Graham Rabbits


Land by tender on the foreshore east of the new pier or further in behind the old quay.


The foreshore to the east of the main pier
Image: Andreas F. Borchert via CC BY-SA 2.0


The old quay, that has been extensively renovated, is situated at the northeastern end of the harbour and it has a shallow inner pool with local moorinfs that lies to its southeast. Shoal draft vessels may venture to the this area. A 30-metre wide channel leads the Inishbofin Inner Pier, Fl.R.5s at its head. Lit leading marks, triangles on poles L Fl.6s.8m (front) L Fl.6s.11m (rear), on the eastern shore lead into it.


Inishbofin Inner Pier and pool
Image: Dominic Smith via CC BY 2.0


The quay dries 0.6 metres alongside and there is limited room to anchor in the inner pool that has 0.2 metres LAT.


The wall of the inner pier is rough and a fender board is inadvisable
Image: Dominic Smith via CC BY 2.0


For shoal draft vessels and those that can take to the mud, it could present a convenient place to dry out and provide an excelent refuge in severe weather. However, it is important to make enquiries as at high water the ferries also make use it but not typically during summertime.


The inner pool
Image: Dominic Smith via CC BY 2.0


The island has a further anchorage location at Rusheen Bay, a very sheltered horseshoe-shaped bay on the east side of the island which has a very pretty beach for a nice soft landing. The clean sandy ground for anchoring is of small extent and lies near the shore close inside the 5-metre contour.


Why visit here?
Inishbofin's name is derived from the Irish 'Inis Bó Finne' meaning 'Island of the White Cow'. Legends here are plentiful but the principal one behind the island's name was that the island was actually afloat until some fishermen landed upon it during a fog. By bringing fire onto the island, they dispelled the magic and fixed it in place. Upon doing so they then saw an old woman driving a white cow, which turned into a rock when the woman struck it with a stick and hence the name. Over time the name has been anglicised to 'Innisboffin' or simply 'Boffin' or 'Bophin' island.


The 17th Century ruins of a Cromwellian fort and barracks
Image: Andreas F. Borchert via CC BY-SA 2.0


It is not known when Inishbofin was first settled and it is estimated to be somewhere after 1000 BC. Definite traces of human settlement are manifest from the Iron Age onwards as witnessed by the remains of the islands four promontory ring forts 'Dun Mor,' 'Dun na h-Inine', 'Dun Dubh', and 'Dun Gráinne'. The most dramatic been 'Dun Mor' on West Quarter that consists of a wall of masonry, curving around the hill at about its midway point with various structures in the vicinity. The rubble from the original defence wall is still visible.

Saint Coleman
Image: Public Domain
The missionary St Colman dominates the history of the island from as early as the 7th century. Coleman is derived from the Latin columbus, meaning a dove. Of Connacht origin, it is thought he became a monk at Iona. Then, journeying southwards, he became bishop of Lindisfarne in 661, and a favoured friend of Oswio, king of Northumbria. During his short episcopate, he was noted for the example he made of frugality and simplicity of living and for the devotion of his clergy to their business of preaching the word of God and ministering to the people. He was at the 664 Easter synod of Whitby when the great dispute between the Roman and the Celtic parties in the church was considered. Coleman acted as spokesman of the latter party upholding the Celtic usages, but King Oswio decided against him and his cause was lost.

After this Paschal controversy, Colman and some Irish and English monks went to Iona and then to Ireland. They then came to settle on Inishbofin in 665 where he built a wooden monastery and it was here he died on the 8th of August 674. The Annals of the Four Masters showed that the monastery's Abbots went on to control the island until the early 10th-century.


The ruins of the church on the site of Coleman's Monetary
Image: Dominic Smith via CC BY 2.0


The O'Flahertys then controlled the island until 1380, when the O'Malleys captured it. In the 16th-century, according to local tradition, a Spanish pirate or Barbary corsair named Alonzo Bosco built a stronghold on Port Island, where the Cromwellian fort can be seen today. According to the tales he raided the Irish coast and shipping in the area. 'Don' Bosco was supposed to have been an ally of Gráinne O'Malley, chieftain of the O'Malley clan and 'Ireland's pirate queen'. Gráinne O'Malley supposedly defended the entrance of the harbour against intruders from 'Dún Gráinne' on Port Island.


The church ruins
Image: Andreas F. Borchert via CC BY-SA 2.0


It was only a matter of time before the Elizabethan forces took the island and what can be seen today are the ruins of a Cromwellian fort and barracks that date from about 1656. This was a star fort built to protect the harbour from the encroachments of the Dutch, who carried on an extensive fishery on this coast. The island was, at the time, home to a considerable fishery and centre for whaling activity. The fort went on hold captured Catholic clergy after the English Statute of 1655 declared them guilty of high treason. Here they awaited transportation to the West Indies and other remote places although some never made it. The drying 'Bishops Rock', the principle danger should be avoided when approaching the harbour entrance, took its name from an unfortunate bishop who was tied to it at low tide and drowned as the waters rose.


The road leading up from the harbour
Image: Towel401 via CC BY-SA 4.0


Today, Inishbofin is an attractive English speaking island that is extremely popular with tourists. It has become an important centre for traditional Irish music and song. With its own Ceili band and local contemporary musicians, and the island has become an inspirational haven for visiting musicians as well as artists and photographers.


Inishbofin is a centre for traditional music
Image: Tourism Ireland


The main village is well spread out, ribbon-like, along the southern shoreline where the main Bofin harbour and bay are situated. Beyond, the island is renowned for its white sandy beaches and its magnificent scenery which is a breeding area for many species of birds such as the endangered corncrake. One aspect of the island is that it has no trees or forests whatsoever. Any wood was cut down and used as heating fuel and because of the salt-enriched air trees were never able to re-establish themselves. Instead, a popular fuel on the island is peat turf which is cut from the peat bogs and dried making a pleasant smelling fire. It is also one of the few places in Ireland where blowholes and sea stacks can be seen.


Dumhach Beach one of Inishbofin's white sandy beaches
Image: Drow69 via ASA 3.0


The local Heritage Museum has all the historical information together with accounts of life on the island in times past. Cromwells fort and barracks will be seen on entry and the subsequent 14th century ruined stone chapel, standing on the site of the St Colman’s monastic site, can also be visited. There is also a bullaun stone and two early crosses nearby. 'Dun na h-Inine', which means 'Daughter's Fort' can be best seen from a boat on an almost detached stack of rock at the northwest point.


Fishing boat heading out
Image: Drow69 via ASA 3.0


From a boating point of view, the secure natural harbour makes a good stopping point for vessels travelling along the west coast. Alongside this are its welcoming pubs that often provide spontaneous sessions of traditional Irish music and delightful walks to either end of the island. Probably the best way to explore the island is by bicycle and these can be hired at Lower Middle Quarter.


What facilities are available?
The majority of the facilities on the island are around the old quay where freshwater is available from a hosepipe. There are three pubs in the vicinity, one of which provides bar food, and another that has a mini supermarket adjoining which stocks groceries and bread and also by arrangement with the pub landlord showers are available to customers. There are some excellent hotels and restaurants, a chip shop, and at Lower Middle Quarter bicycles can be hired.

For marine repairs to engines and electronics, speak to the local pilot who will direct you to East End.
During the summer months there are three ferry sailings per day to the mainland at Cleggan, which is reduced to two during the winter.

Speak to the locals if you need something specific as the islanders are very friendly to visitors and will usually be very helpful.


With thanks to:
PETER CRAVEN & Michael Harpur eOceanic


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The above plots are not precise and indicative only.






A taste of the vibrant island



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PETER CRAVEN wrote this review on Feb 9th 2020:

Entrance to bay is very restricted with rocks on both sides. The original guidance towers are not easily visible. There is a newer light marking the passage. However the two do not completely coincide so take a route between the two.

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