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Knockadoon Slip is located on the south coast of Ireland, just off Knockadoon Head in the southwest corner of Youghal Bay. It offers an anchorage off a small rural slip with a breakwater.

Knockadoon Slip is located on the south coast of Ireland, just off Knockadoon Head in the southwest corner of Youghal Bay. It offers an anchorage off a small rural slip with a breakwater.

The area off of the slip provides a good anchorage in westerlies, but it is entirely open to anything with an easterly component. Daylight access is straightforward, with the head and its offlying island readily identifiable from some distance and no major outlying dangers.

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Keyfacts for Knockadoon Slip
Slipway availablePublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier

Protected sectors

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

4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.

Last modified
October 23rd 2020

Summary* Restrictions apply

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Slipway availablePublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier

Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 53.206' N, 007° 51.950' W

This is off of Knockadoon Slip on the 2-metre LAT contour.

What is the initial fix?

The following Knockadoon Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 53.158' N, 007° 50.623' W
This is about 400 metres to the northwest of Capel Island, setting up an approach to the north of Capel Island, south of Sound Rock, less than a mile west-northwest.

What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southeastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location.

  • Newcomers are best advised to avoid Capel Sound and round Capel Island's northern side.

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 Knockadoon Slip for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Youghal - 4 nautical miles NNE
  2. Ballycotton - 6.1 nautical miles SW
  3. Ardmore Bay - 6.7 nautical miles NE
  4. Northeast of Great Island - 12.5 nautical miles W
  5. East Ferry Marina - 12.9 nautical miles W
  6. Aghada - 13 nautical miles W
  7. Cuskinny - 15 nautical miles W
  8. White Bay - 15.2 nautical miles WSW
  9. Dungarvan Town Quay - 15.3 nautical miles NE
  10. Helvick - 15.6 nautical miles NE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Youghal - 4 miles NNE
  2. Ballycotton - 6.1 miles SW
  3. Ardmore Bay - 6.7 miles NE
  4. Northeast of Great Island - 12.5 miles W
  5. East Ferry Marina - 12.9 miles W
  6. Aghada - 13 miles W
  7. Cuskinny - 15 miles W
  8. White Bay - 15.2 miles WSW
  9. Dungarvan Town Quay - 15.3 miles NE
  10. Helvick - 15.6 miles NE
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What's the story here?
Knockadoon Slip
Image: Michael Harpur

Knockadoon Slip is a small, isolated pair of slips with a protective breakwater, situated in the south part of Youghal Bay and on the north side of Knockadoon Head. The slips are located about ¼ mile west of Capel Sound, which is a pass between Capel Island and Knockadoon Head, or ¾ mile west of the easternmost side of Capel Island. The slips provide an excellent landing point and the small hamlet above has a pub and a restaurant.

Knockadoon's two slips
Image: Michael Harpur

The locality provides an anchorage with good sand holding and is well sheltered in prevailing conditions. The slips dry out to the head of the breakwater, which on a low spring tide dries to about 0.5 metres at its head.

How to get in?
Capel Island with Knockadoon Head and Knockadoon Slip in the backdrop
Image: John Finn

Convergance Point Youghal Bay is entered between Knockadoon Head, with Capel Island situated immediately offshore, and Ram Head, located about 7 miles northeast. Knockadoon Slip lies immediately inside Knockadoon Head, the extreme point of the mainland on the bay’s southernmost reach.

Capel Island and Knockadoon Head as seen from the east
Image: Burke Corbett

Knockadoon Head marks the western limit of Youghal Bay. About ½ mile east of Knockadoon Head is Capel Island, which separates Ballycotton Bay from Youghal Bay. Capel Island's tower, the base of an unfinished light tower, and the Napoleonic-era square signal tower standing on the crest of Knockadoon Head are highly prominent features that make for unmistakable seamarks.

Capel Island Tower - position: 51° 52.927'N, 007° 51.131'W

Capel Sound
Image: Michael Harpur

Capel Sound separates Capel Island from Knockadoon Head and has from 4 to 5 metres of water. Rocky ledges extending from both shores of the sound reduce the channel to little more than 200 metres wide. Through this contracted sound the tides run fast, sometimes attaining 2 knots, and the rocky nature of the bottom can cause overfalls, making it appear dangerous. It is sometimes used by local boats but not recommended for newcomers, who are best advised to pass around the north side of Capel Island to make an approach.

Knockadoon Slip as seen from eastward
Image: Michael Harpur

Initial fix location From the initial fix, the slip and its breakwater will be readily identifiable. Pass to the north of Capel Island (which is rocky and precipitous) and bold-to. Deep-draught vessels should note that Sound Rock, with 2.4 metres of water LAT over it, lies ½ mile northwestward (332° T) from Capel Island Tower.

Anchor off of the slip and breakwater
Image: Michael Harpur

Haven location Anchor according to draught off the slip in sand and mud. Land at the pier and slipway at Knockadoon Head or on two well-sheltered beaches close by.

Knockadoon Slip at high water
Image: Michael Harpur

Why visit here?
The name Knockadoon, from the Gaelic Cnoc an Dún, meaning 'Hill of the Fortress', suggests the site was the seat of a chieftain in prehistoric times. Situated at the tip of one of the Old Red Sandstone ridges that form the southwest of Ireland, it would have made a naturally defensive position.

Knockadoon Head with its signature signal tower
Image: Michael Harpur

Although nothing is left of the ancient fort, Knockadoon Head’s Napoleonic-era signal tower, sited at the highest point on this headland, remains a prominent mark. At the beginning of the 19th century, the British forces in Ireland feared a French invasion. Between 1804 and 1805, a series of 81 signal towers was established around the coast of Ireland to counter this threat. These were situated on strategically high and often remote, exposed locations like Knockadoon, and all the towers had inter-visibility with their 'neighbours' in a daisy chain formation.

The Napoleonic-era signal tower on Knockadoon Head
Image: John Finn

The signal towers were typically two bays wide and two storeys high, and were not specifically designed as strongholds. They quartered eight to 12 men, who could hold out against only a small attacking force. Rather, their purpose was to house signalling crews with the singular objective of spotting an incoming invasion fleet; then, by means of flags and balls on a mast in front of the tower, they would communicate the sighting. The knowledge of the invasion force and its location would then travel through the series of towers to the government in Dublin, who could direct best direct its forces. But they were built for an invasion that would never come, and when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, the threat of a French invasion diminished. This, together with the high maintenance costs, caused the abandonment of most of the weather-beaten towers.

Knockadoon Slip's origins revolve around a customs outpost
Image: Michael Harpur

Knockadoon Slip, as we see it today, most likely came about as part of a series of coastguard stations established in the early 1800s. It was part of the coastguard district of Youghal, which included Ballycotton and Ballymacoda, which also had stations established at the time. These were set up to combat smuggling and carry out search and rescue operations at sea. The small slip and breakwater today provide a base for several small fishing vessels to ply their trade and it has recently seen some investment. A building above the slip is home to the Knockadoon Camp, a Dominican summer school youth camp based on Christian values.

Capel Island
Image: John Finn

The area’s most prominent feature is the attractive 37-metre high Capel Island. An offshore outcrop of the Old Red Sandstone, the island is very small, having just over 10 acres in total. It acquired its name from a Gaelicised form of Oileán an Cháplaigh, describing the Norman de Capelle family, which was granted the island after the Norman invasion in the 12th century. The local family name Supple derives from the Norman antecedent.

SS Sirius
Image: Public Domain
The dominant feature of the island is its tower, set on its highest point. The building is the stub of an uncompleted 19th-century lighthouse, which has an interesting story. Between 1826 and 1846, repeated requests were made to the Ballast Board for the construction of a lighthouse on Capel Island. Although started, its construction was lacklustre and came to a halt owing to indecision with the Ballast Board. It was the board’s preference to have lighthouses at Ballycotton and Youghal Harbour, believing Capel Island would be an ineffective site.

The dispute kept the coast of East Cork dark and the authorities in a malaise. Then, in January 1847, the paddle steamship SS Sirius, the first ship to steam across the Atlantic from east to west, went aground in dense fog off Ballycotton and was subsequently wrecked. Twenty passengers and crew drowned, but about 70 survived. The loss confirmed to the authorities that Capel Island was the wrong site for the lighthouse. Prompted into action they capped the unfinished Capel Island lighthouse and began the construction of a lighthouse on Ballycotton Island. The work was completed by 1851, when the light was first lit. Although Capel Island lighthouse remains incomplete, it still serves as a very useful navigational beacon to distinguish Youghal Bay.

Capel Island with Ballycotton Island seen in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

Visitors to Knockadoon will find the wonderful 'Knockadoon Head Loop', which starts at the landing slip, the perfect way to explore the sights of the area. This moderate 7.5km walk loops around the eastern of the two headlands that define the East Cork coastline. The walk runs first on the cliff edge on the east, then heads south before turning inland to return to Knockadoon Pier by road. From the harbour a very good walking trail leads to Knockadoon Head, providing visitors with excellent views out over the Atlantic and Youghal Bay. This leads out to the signal tower, which is a remarkably complete example of the series, with its next easternmost tower clearly visible on Ram Head, on the opposite side of Youghal Bay.

Knockadoon Head, with the watch station and signal tower
Image: John Finn

Knockadoon Tower retains salient features, such as machicolations (through which stones or other material, such as boiling water or boiling cooking oil, could be dropped on attackers) and slate-hung walls. Nearby the tower stands a much smaller concrete lookout post from the Emergency, as the Second World War was known in Ireland.

Knockadoon Tower as seen at dusk
Image: John Finn
The walkway also provides excellent views over Capel Island, making for an interesting and unusual excursion for the adventurous. Today the island is a BirdWatch Ireland nature reserve and permission to land must be obtained from the organisation (birdwatchireland.ie). With consent, it is possible to land a dinghy on a projecting northwest low headland, from the centre of the island on the northwest side. Two small tidal landing beaches will also be found on either side of the foot of this headland. From there it is possible to scramble up to the top of the island.

It is important not to disturb the birdlife as it is home to about 50 pairs of cormorants in summer, as well as smaller numbers of herring gulls, great black-backed gulls and fulmars. Other birds living on the cliffs include choughs, ravens and peregrine falcons. The land has a mixture of grasses and plentiful shelter, which a small herd of tame goats make the best of. They can be seen popping up behind a wall or scooting along the clifftop. Around the island, as well as the anchoring area of the slip, it is also possible to see many sea mammals swimming offshore, most commonly the grey seal, although whales and dolphins sometimes pass by.

Knockadoon Head Loop walk pathway
Image: Michael Harpur

The island is uninhabited and, in all probability, was ever thus. Man has probably had less influence on the ecology of sea cliffs of the little island than that of any other habitat in Ireland. The only mark of mankind is the tower. Including the domed roof, it is approximately 7.5 metres high, while the base is about 6 metres in diameter, tapering to about 5.2 metres at the top. Stone walls surround the building and a small square outhouse. Today the tower has a locked gate, so it is not possible to explore inside.

From a sailing perspective, Knockadoon Slip provides an excellent anchoring location in good conditions, with ample to explore for a stopover. Being just within Knockadoon Head, it also makes a very useful passage stopover for a lunchbreak, or for vessels looking to turn in for the night. Similarly, it makes a good tide wait location for vessels planning to enter Youghal.

What facilities are available?
Apart from the slip, there is a seasonal pub where food may be had. The nearest shops and facilities are at Ballymacoda, about 5km to the west.

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

With thanks to:
Local fisherman.

Overviews of Knockadoon Head and Capel Iseland

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