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Quarantine Island

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Overview





The Ilen River enters the sea at Ireland’s southwest corner, to the north of Baltimore Harbour. The river offers several anchorages on its north-eastward path to Skibbereen, the chief town of the area, situated seven miles above its entrance. Quarantine Island is located within the river's first reach providing a river anchorage in a secluded location.

The Ilen River enters the sea at Ireland’s southwest corner, to the north of Baltimore Harbour. The river offers several anchorages on its north-eastward path to Skibbereen, the chief town of the area, situated seven miles above its entrance. Quarantine Island is located within the river's first reach providing a river anchorage in a secluded location.

Set well within the river mouth, which is itself well protected by outer islands, Quarantine Island provides complete protection from all wind directions. Careful navigation is however required for all of the havens within the River Ilen. The river can be entered directly from Long Island Bay or from the north end of Baltimore Harbour, and in either case, there is little in the way of supporting marks and it can involve significant pilotage. Narrow, shallow at times and with ample rocks to circumvent be prepared for some keen eyeball navigation supported by excellent visibility.



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Keyfacts for Quarantine Island
Facilities
Slipway available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landing

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
September 10th 2021

Summary

A completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Slipway available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landing

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 29.744' N, 009° 24.085' W

This is the position of the ancient anchorage where moorings will be seen.

What is the initial fix?

The following Baltimore north entrance initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 28.080' N, 009° 27.450' W
This is set on the clearing line of bearing 230°T of Clare Island's Doonanore Castle ruins open east of Illauneana, as best seen on Admiralty 2129, and about midway between the Toorane Rocks and Carrigmore.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location. River Ilen directions to the anchorage are covered in the Oldcourt Click to view haven description situated upriver from Quarantine Island. A useful waypoint to target is at the head of 'The Sound'.


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 Quarantine Island for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Turk Head - 0.3 miles WSW
  2. East Pier - 0.5 miles WNW
  3. Trá Bán - 0.5 miles W
  4. Rincolisky Harbour - 0.6 miles WNW
  5. Castle Ruins - 0.6 miles S
  6. Inane Creek - 0.8 miles NE
  7. Baltimore - 0.8 miles SE
  8. Kinish Harbour - 0.8 miles SSW
  9. Horseshoe Harbour - 0.9 miles S
  10. Reena Dhuna - 1.3 miles NE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Turk Head - 0.3 miles WSW
  2. East Pier - 0.5 miles WNW
  3. Trá Bán - 0.5 miles W
  4. Rincolisky Harbour - 0.6 miles WNW
  5. Castle Ruins - 0.6 miles S
  6. Inane Creek - 0.8 miles NE
  7. Baltimore - 0.8 miles SE
  8. Kinish Harbour - 0.8 miles SSW
  9. Horseshoe Harbour - 0.9 miles S
  10. Reena Dhuna - 1.3 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?
Quarantine Island situated in The Sound off of Turk's Head Quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Quarantine Island is situated within the River Ilen entered to the northward of Sherkin island in its first reach, ½ eastward of Turk Head. The island also marks the north entrance to Baltimore Harbour where The Sound and the Ilen River entrance meet, amidst and above Quarantine Island and Sandy Island to the west. The island is very small, only 50 metres by 50 metres, low and overgrown with furze bushes and heather.


Turk Head Quay, locally known as Cusheeen
Image: Michael Harpur


The anchorage lies close northwest of the island with 2.4 metres LAT with good holding. It is overlooked by the Turk Head quay on the north side of the river, locally known as Cusheeen. It is a small but substantially built quay, partly hewn out of the low cliffs, that could shelter a boat taking to the bottom.


How to get in?
Quarantine Island (centre) with a boat approaching from the south via The Sound
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location. Seaward approaches and run up the River Ilen are covered in the Oldcourt Click to view haven description.


The seaward approaches to the River Ilen with Turk Head (right)
Image: Michael Harpur


The Baltimore North Entrance Route location route provides a list of waypoints that assist pilotage through the entrance to River Ilen and likewise the path from the north end of Baltimore Harbour. Turk Head Quay on the north shore serves to positively identify Sandy and Quarantine islands.

Quarantine and Sandy islands on the south side of the river opposite the Turk
Head Peninsula

Image: Michael Harpur


Turn in to anchor behind Quarantine island from about 100 metres northeastward of the island. Local moorings will be seen in the anchoring area.


The anchoring area close east by north east of the island
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor according to draft in a nook of deep water close east northeast of the island clear of the moorings.


Land at Turk Head Quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Land at the Turk’s Head Quay on the north side of the river opposite the island.


Why visit here?
Quarantine Island’s name dates back to the days of sail between 1760 – 1785 when Baltimore was an official Port of Quarantine. At this time the small island and more importantly its secure anchorage was the designated point of the quarantine.


Ship held at quarantine showing the yellow flag
Image: Public Domain


The threat of bacterial epidemics is something, since the advent of Covid 19, we are all more than too familiar with. Epidemics and pandemics have wiped out populations of people and animals since the dawn of time. The word quarantine comes from the Italian, 17th-century Venetian, quarantena, meaning 'forty-day period'. The policy of Quarantine, as described by the 'Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a process 'used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill'.


The southern entrance's Baltimore Beacon seen with Quarantine Island (left)
Image: Michael Harpur


The internationalisation of shipping in the late Middle Ages brought forth concerns about the shipborne spread of diseases such as typhus and cholera. Laws were enacted in the early 1700’s for the UK and Ireland to protect ports and citizenry by a network of Ports of Quarantine. Baltimore was one of these and it was this that lead to the designation of Quarantine Island as the point where vessels were to be detained. The other Irish quarantine ports were Lough Larne, Carlingford Bay, Derry, Killybegs, Clew Bay, Galway Bay, Scattery Bay, Poolbeg, Warren Point, Belfast, Tarbert, Baltimore, Passage East and Spike Island. Ships calling to these harbours were held from landing until they were cleared by customs and their captains were required to report the health of the ship's company. Sick sailors were expected to be declared, either to the customs officials directly or by the hoisting of a flag - the yellow jack. In some cases, ships coming from ports where illnesses had been reported, could expect to be detained.



Turk Head Quay on the north shore
Image: Michael Harpur


The Baltimore process was operated by a surveyor, cox, and six boatmen with 'Pratique Masters' appointed to overlooking suspected cases to ensure all the regulations were adhered to. Sick sailors would be examined aboard or taken ashore to the hospital. The ship was then anchored away from others off Quarantine Island to await news of the sailor. Only when they were passed fit could they proceed. Unlike other locations, Quarantine Island never had a building and it was used as a safe secluded anchorage. The Custom House in Dublin could declare of Baltimore that 'goods are aired on a rock in the harbour unless ordered to be aired on the decks of vessels'.


Turk Head Quay as seen from its root
Image: Michael Harpur


Though we think of quarantine in terms of humans it also to animals of various kinds. As it happens Quarantine Island was largely used for the quarantine of visiting ships of cattle that could introduce transmittable diseases. When the cattle were cleared they were brought ashore at Baltimore. The Baltimore Port of Quarantine was maintained for about 80 years, until the mid-1800s, when all the quarantine ports were phased out.


Leisure vessels passing out of the sound for Long Island Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Today Quarantine Island remains a quiet secluded anchorage overlooked by the small and quiet Turk Quay. Locally called Cusheen this is the conjunction of the Irish words Cush (also cois) 'foot', and 'leán' 'little' so 'little footing' which aptly describes it. The quay provides an ideal place to land and explore the mainland where wonderful walks around Turk Head can be enjoyed. The immediate island groups also offer good exploration potential.

Quarantine Island and the surrounding group of very small islands, that are situated between Sherkin and Spanish Islands, have remarkably rich and varied flora. This reflects the mild temperate climate that is experienced off this corner of Ireland and the varied human activity that the islands experience. The unmanaged Quarantine Island is largely overgrown with furze bushes and heather but it has a small saltmarsh on its eastern side where western marsh orchids can be seen.


Sandy, The Catalogues and Sherkin with Clear Island in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Situated immediately to the west is the larger five-hectare Sandy Island, in Irish known as Oileán na Gaineamaha. Despite its name, the island has no sand but it is well worth landing on for a visit. On the island's east side are the remains of a rudimentary slipway will be found, and this leads up to an old 1960s style holiday home set in the middle of the island. The adjacent Catalogues and Sandy Islands are largely made up of heath grassland, whilst Jeremy is mostly a rock island. All of which provides plenty to explore via a dinghy with a reliable outboard engine.

From a boating perspective, Quarantine Island provides an excellent anchorage with all-around protection with a good landing point at the pier on the north shore. It is an ideal place to await a tide to progress up the River Ilen and the islands in Long Island Bay are very accessible from here. Although very quiet, with a good outboard, Baltimore Harbour with its excellent restaurants and pubs is less than 15 minutes away via The Sound.


What facilities are available?
There is nothing here except Turk's Head pier at which to land on the north side of the river opposite the island.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored off Quarantine Island.


With thanks to:
Diarmuid Minihane, Baltimore Harbour Master.




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