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Baltimore

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Overview





Located in Ireland’s far southwest corner in Co. Cork, Baltimore is a natural mainland harbour tucked in behind Sherkin, Spanish and Ringarogy Islands. It is a fishing port and a busy yachting centre providing several anchoring opportunities, alongside moorings and the potential to come alongside a pontoon.

By moving around the harbour a vessel will find complete protection from all sectors although winds from southeast round to southwest cause a groundswell that builds in rough weather. The harbour offers safe access at all tides, night or day in all reasonable weather conditions, via its well-marked primary and preferred southern entrance. Baltimore harbour may also be reached from the northwest by coming in around Heir Island and north of Sherkin Island via The Sound. Although more than workable, this requires careful pilotage between islands and rocks.
Please note

The southern approach has fringing rocks off both entrance points and the shallow inner harbour has several well-marked rocks. A helmsman should be well acquainted with the harbour charts before making an approach.




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Keyfacts for Baltimore
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway 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 areaChandlery available in the areaBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus service available in the areaShore 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 arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation 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
3 metres (9.84 feet).

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



Last modified
May 8th 2018

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway 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 areaChandlery available in the areaBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus service available in the areaShore 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 arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation 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 87 235 1485     Club  +353 28 20426      Ch.16, 09
Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 28.975' N, 009° 22.474' W

Baltimore town pier.

What is the initial fix?

The following Baltimore Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 28.120' N, 009° 23.423' W
This is quarter of a mile due south of the entrance, midway between Beacon & Barrack Point in the white sector of the lighthouse.


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.


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 Baltimore for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Off Castle Ruins - 0.6 miles WSW
  2. Horseshoe Harbour - 0.7 miles SW
  3. Quarantine Island - 0.8 miles NW
  4. Kinish Harbour - 1 miles WSW
  5. Turk’s Head - 1 miles WNW
  6. Inane Creek - 1 miles N
  7. Heir Island (East Pier) - 1.2 miles WNW
  8. Heir Island (east beach) - 1.3 miles WNW
  9. Rincolisky Harbour - 1.4 miles WNW
  10. Reena Dhuna - 1.5 miles N
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Off Castle Ruins - 0.6 miles WSW
  2. Horseshoe Harbour - 0.7 miles SW
  3. Quarantine Island - 0.8 miles NW
  4. Kinish Harbour - 1 miles WSW
  5. Turk’s Head - 1 miles WNW
  6. Inane Creek - 1 miles N
  7. Heir Island (East Pier) - 1.2 miles WNW
  8. Heir Island (east beach) - 1.3 miles WNW
  9. Rincolisky Harbour - 1.4 miles WNW
  10. Reena Dhuna - 1.5 miles N
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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How to get in?


Baltimore Harbour lies between Sherkin, Spanish Island and Ringarogy Islands and the mainland. It is a sizable natural harbour that is an active fishing port and a busy yachting centre. The primary entrance is its ‘Southern Entrance’ between Beacon Point to the east, marked by a beacon, and Barrack Point on Sherkin Island, marked by a lighthouse.

There is another possible approach via the harbours ‘Northern Entrance’ which provide access from the southern half of Long Island Bay. The preferred, most straightforward and direct approach is through its southern entrance described below.

By contrast the northern entrance, between Heir and Sherkin Islands, twists and turns through narrow intricate channels passing several undistinguished islets and islands. The channels have covered and exposed obstructions in the margins and the passage is particularly challenging in the vicinity of Turk’s Head. This leaves zero margins for pilotage error so good visibility and conditions along with a set of excellent charts will be essential for this cut. That said, in good conditions, it offers an interesting few hours of keen pilotage. Those taking the northern entrance, then accessing the harbour via the River Ilen and ‘The Sound’, should use the directions provided for Oldcourt’s Click to view haven River Ilen approach description. The ‘Routes; Baltimore Harbour North Entrance’ entry also shares a set of waypoints Route location for this approach.



The natural harbour of Baltimore is located between Sherkin, Spanish, and Ringarogy Islands and the mainland. The entrance is located between Beacon Point to the east, marked by the white conical pillar 'Lot's Wife' Baltimore Beacon, plus Barrack Point on Sherkin Island, marked by a lighthouse with sectored lights; Red 168° - White 294°-038°.

'Lot's Wife' Baltimore – beacon white conical pillar unlighted position: 51°28.417'N, 009°23.272'W

Barrack Point – Light tower Fl.(2)W.R.6s 40m 6/3M position: 51° 28.375´N, 009° 23.670´W

Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the east, on closer approaches, should pass well south of the 34 metres high and flat-topped Kedge Island. It is situated about a third of a mile south of Spain Point, and a chain of pinnacle rocks extend from the islet to the shore. A shallow wreck, with 1.8 metres of cover, lies 250 metres off the south shore of Kedge Island.

Kedge Island Wreck – Unmarked position: 51° 27.630´N, 009° 20.790´W

To clear this wreck do not let the Barrack Point lighthouse bearing fall below a bearing of the 294°T, as marked in its Red sector at night 168°-294°, before turning onto the initial fix.
Please note

A tidal race occurs off the southwest extremity of the island. Sometimes locals may be seen using a narrow passage, that has 7 metres of water, close alongside Spain Point but this is not advisable for those unfamiliar with it.



Western Approach Vessels approaching from the west will find Sherkin Island clear of dangers by standing 400 metres off its south-eastern coastline.

Convergance Point Baltimore’s narrow 400-metre wide southern entrance is not easily made out at any distance from the cliffs. But on closer approaches, the aforementioned conspicuous white beacon at an elevation of 50 metres on the eastern Beacon Point, locally known as Lot’s Wife, plus the white lighthouse on the western Barrack Point, clearly point out the entrance. The entrance is deep but only 80 metres wide and rocky ridges extend from both points.



Initial fix location Once these points have been identified the approach to the Baltimore Harbour initial fix, situated a quarter of a mile south of the Baltimore Harbour entrance, will easily be made. The entrance channel is deep, with at least a charted depth of 6.2 metres, and approximately 80 metres wide, between rocky ridges extending from Barrack Point and Beacon Point. Keep well off the western side on approach. The area, to the south of the Barrack Point Light House, on the southwest side of the entrance channel, has an outcropping of rocks extending almost 150 metres south with Wilson Rock, HW 0.1 metre, awash at its southernmost point. At night it is further supported by a sectored light R. 168°-294°, W.-038°, obsc.- 168°.



Proceed through the centre of the entrance continuing north to leave the Loo Rock marker, a starboard Light Buoy Fl.G.3s, on the eastern side of the entrance, to starboard.



The rock is located in a north-easterly direction from the buoy, nearly one-fourth of the distance across from the eastern to the western points, and uncovers at low water spring tides.

Loo Rock – starboard buoy Fl G 3s position: 51° 28.438'N, 009° 23.458'W

Within the entrance, a conspicuous ruin of an abbey will be seen on Sherkin Island with a road leading down to the quay to Abbey Strand where the island ferry docks.
Please note

A good lookout should be maintained for the ferry that crosses from Baltimore to Abbey Strand. This crosses every hour in summer and every two hours in winter so it may cross your path on entry.





The harbour itself is situated one mile north of the entrance. The principal dangers within the harbour are the Quarry, Lousy, and Wallis Rocks. There are other ledges of rocks in different parts of this harbour, but their proximity to the shoreline, or distance from the anchoring grounds, makes a description of them unnecessary but Admiralty chart 3725 will make these clear.

Quarry Rock is the one that is most likely to cause vessels entering the harbour and carrying some draft a problem. It sits much in the way of a direct path between the Loo Rock mark and the No. 1 starboard-hand mark. Situated about 400 metres northeast from the Loo Rock it has 2.1 metres over it at low water and is best avoided by standing on northward for 200 metres beyond the Loo Rock mark before turning to starboard for Baltimore.



Once the Baltimore pier and buildings come clear around the headland of Connor Point lay off a course of about 060°. Staying close to the No. 1 starboard-hand mark, on the starboard side, will keep a vessel well south of Lousy Rocks.

Lousy Rocks are situated half a mile within the entrance, and near the middle of the harbour, these rocks uncover on the last quarter ebb and are marked by a conspicuous 12 metres high south cardinal beacon on the south-eastern rock. The ground is both foul and shallow for about 200 metres to the north and west of the perch, but the eastern side is clear.

Follow the east coast to leave the Wallis Rock buoy to port. Wallis Rock is a small patch nearly midway between the Lousy Rocks and the town quays of Baltimore, slightly nearer to the former. At low water, there are 1.8 metres over it. Its position is marked on its south side by a port hand light buoy located north of the moored boats. The No. 3 starboard-hand mark should now be identifiable if steering a course of 070°T.
Please note

This area has extensive moorings that could easily foul a propeller if not vigilantly avoided.





Haven location There are a wealth of anchorages in the harbour area, especially to the north of the entrance. The preferred anchorage is to the north or west of the north pier of the harbour in about 1.8 metres avoiding the track of the Sherkin ferry.

Boisterous north-westerly to south-westerly winds tend to make berths off the village uncomfortable. In these circumstances, shelter may be obtained by moving to the northeast side of the harbour, past the lifeboat slip in Church Strand Bay. The beach can be used for landing but is subject to extensive swaths of seaweed; if weather permits, a dinghy trek back to the harbour would be the best option. In strong westerly’s there is a good anchorage in the separately covered haven of the Sherkin Island Click to view haven , just off the slip by the ruined Abbey.

The port itself consists of a small basin, which partly dries, between the stone quay of the North Pier and the 50 metres distant South Pier. It may be possible to come alongside the North Pier. The south side of the North Pier has up to 1.3 metres and the north side of the North Pier has up to 2.1 metres.

The newly refurbished South Pier’s northeast side dries to 0.5 metres at its inner end. Depths increase to 1.5 metres at the pierhead. From April to September a pontoon is set in place off the west face of the South Pier and connected by a footbridge.



The small pontoon only caters for up to 20 yachts in 2.4 metres and has no breakwater. This is usually in very high demand during the season and cannot be relied upon for a berth.
Please note

Vessels carrying any draft should be aware that although the pontoon supports 2.4 metres, the pontoon is surrounded by water that has 1.5 metres above chart datum at low water springs that may cause some difficulty when approaching the pontoon.



The most convenient Baltimore option is to take a visitor buoy by arrangement with the harbour master who will be just as delighted to advise on all berthing options M: +353 87 235 1485 VHF Ch.16 & 09. The ample buoys, usually supplied with pickup buoys, are located in the deeper water to the north of the piers making the harbour a short dinghy jaunt.


Why visit here?
Baltimore, in Irish Dún na Séad is an Anglicisation of Irish words Baile an Tí Mhóir meaning "Town of the Big House". The town's name is pronounced differently than the Baltimore in the USA, being Bal-timore rather than Ball-timore. The Irish language name is derived from the O'Driscoll castle, Dún na Séad or "Fort of the Pearls or Jewels" that overlooks the town.

The O’Driscolls were powerful chiefs in West Cork, being originally lords of the southwest Cork area where their lands once stretched for over a thousand square miles between the Kenmare and the Bandon rivers. After the Anglo-Norman invasion, their territory was reduced by the encroachments of the O’Donovans, O’Mahonys and O’Sullivans, as a reaction to Norman pressure on those families to the coastal strip between Castlehaven and Roaringwater Bay. They still held considerable power in the area in the seventeenth century and secured their footing by building nine coastal castles many of which still stand today. From these bases, they maintained an income via a blend of fishing and opportunistic piracy.

These castles include Dún na Oir, the 'Fort of Gold', on Cape Clear, and Dún na Long, the 'Fort of the Ships', standing on the east side of Sherkin Island facing Baltimore harbour, and Cloghan Castle which lies in ruins in the middle of Lough Hyne. Their final undoing was to take an active part in the Munster wars during the reign of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I. After her defeat of Irish forces, at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, the property of the O’Driscolls was confiscated and given to Lord Castlehaven. The clan’s final chief, Sir Fineen O'Driscoll, the Rover, was the most notorious of the clan. In the first period of his reign, he supported the English rulers by confiscating Spanish ships and was knighted for his efforts in 1587. Sir Fineen eventually died lonely and destitute in 1629, after retiring to the castle in Lough Hyne. Originally erected in 1215, and later made into a fortified house, Baltimore’s Dún na Sead, was the main seat of O`Driscoll Mór. The building has recently been lovingly restored and it is open to the public in the summer. Ruins worth seeing also include the castles on Cape Clear and Sherkin Island.

The harbour’s history has always been dominated by the sea, so much so that an attack from the sea hindered its historic development. This was the 1631 attack the ‘Sack of Baltimore’ when the town was raided by Algerian pirates under the command of a Dutch captain Morat Rais. In the middle of June, he had two Algerian warships working their way along the south coast of Ireland and seized upon two Dungarvan mackerel fishing boats off the Old Head of Kinsale. Bent on avoiding a raid the skipper of one of these boats, called John Hackett, persuaded Morat Rais to pass his home port for the better target of Baltimore. This they did and supported by John Hackett in the early hours of the morning of June 20th the Sack of Baltimore commenced. The landing party, armed with muskets, scimitars, long knives, and tarred canvas alight on sticks, used iron crowbars to break open 40 houses and loot a further 37. They then herded 89 women and children plus 20 men captives back onto the Algerian boats. Before setting sail for Algiers they released John Hackett as a reward for his support. The boats arrived back at Algiers on the 10th August where the captives were brought to the Bashaw's Palace. The Bashaw’s share was 15 of the captives and the others were sold on the open market. None were ever to be seen again in Ireland.

Those that survived the sacking departed the harbour area and founded Skibbereen. Situated about 10 miles inland it provided a more secure location for the area’s population and is today the largest town in the region. Reminders of this bleak incident appear around the town, most oddly noted in the local pub ‘The Algiers Inn’. Another foreign connection, according to local myth, is that Napoleon obtained his famous white mare from the Baltimore area.

Baltimore attracts many visitors from within Ireland and the population booms in summer months. This is largely due to a large number of summer homes that have been built here in the last decade. To service these visitors the town boasts several bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels, many of them offering local seafood, and they range in style from traditional to modern. All have in common a warm welcome and a great pint. A regular feature of the pubs is live music that creates a very good atmosphere.

Most activities in and around Baltimore have a maritime flavour, such as sea angling and kayaking where the West Cork coastline has a host of creeks and inlets to explore. Baltimore has also become a very popular venue for snorkelling and scuba diving, due largely to the number and variety of shipwrecks in the bay, including a World War Two submarine (the U-260) and the bulk carrier the Kowloon Bridge. The relatively new Kowloon Bridge which carried ore, ran aground on The Stags Rocks in 1986 resulting in extensive oil spills along much of this coast.

For those who want a change from water-based activities the spectacular surrounding countryside and nearby islands have some great walks. Whether you are looking for strenuous exercise or just a quiet stroll the magnificent coastal scenery makes the perfect backdrop. Organised walking festivals take place from Baltimore twice a year, but if you prefer the action to come to you there are other regular festivals and events throughout the season. The harbour's unusual landmark ‘Baltimore Beacon’, locally known as “Lot’s Wife” is a must walk for all visitors. Today the large conical stone structure is used to identify the entrance for those who approached from the south. It was originally built after the 1798 rebellion by order of the British government. The marker was then part of a series of lighthouses and beacons dotted around the Irish coast to form a warning system for invasion or uprising. Situated approximately a mile’s walk from the pier the view from its location makes it well worth a visit.

All this makes it historically a very popular port of call for yachts cruising the southwest coast plus a major landfall harbour for boats arriving from England, France and Spain or indeed a first landing point for vessels on passage across the Atlantic. This was well noted in 1928 in Peter Somerville-Large's very celebrated account of an exploration of west Cork’s rugged coastline by bicycle, ‘The Coast of West Cork’. In it he wrote that the area is “one of the best and safest sailing grounds for boats in the British Isles” and he was more than accurate as the harbour has several unique attributes.

Baltimore’s large natural harbour provides a safe anchorage for visiting yachts, having moorings, pontoon berths plus practical shore facilities that include chandleries, marine repair services, and the all-important grocer's shop for reprovisioning. It is also an ideal base to explore the surrounding sheltered waters of Carbery's Hundred Isles and Roaringwater Bay that provide a variety of harbours and secluded anchorages for a unique experience of inshore cruising. Here vessels may cruise for miles without venturing into the open sea should you not want to. Finally, these waters are a great place to view marine wildlife at close quarters thanks to the numbers of whales, dolphins and marine animals that pass close inshore off this corner.


What facilities are available?
Fuel and water are available on the new pier where a summertime temporary jetty is set in place to cater for yachts. There is a chandlery and small boat yard in the area where it may be possible to leave a boat. There is one hotel, many pubs and restaurants, and showers are available at a pub adjacent to the harbour. Showers are also available when not occupied by racing competitors at Baltimore Harbour Sailing Club, situated at the head of the basin and open in the summer. A Wi-Fi service is available in the harbour area as are postal services.

There are a host of pubs and restaurants in the immediate harbour area that serve a wide range of food at differing price levels. A reasonably good mini-market overlooks the harbour. The harbour also features a second sailing club, Glenans Irish Sailing Club located in the old railway station, where visitors are always welcome.

A bus service from Baltimore to the substantial provincial town of Skibbereen (approximately 10km) gives access to larger stores where a wider range of provisions are available. Ferries sail from Baltimore to Schull further along the coast, to Sherkin Island, and to the more remote Cape Clear Island. Do note that Sherkin Island also has a good pub and restaurant.


Any security concerns?
Never a security issue known to have occurred in Baltimore.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Photos: Francesco Crippa, Chris Kealy, Justin Brockie, Lapatia and A McCarron, Becky Williamson, ale and Olivier Bruchez.


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