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Wicklow Harbour

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Overview





Wicklow Harbour is situated on the east coast of Ireland about twenty miles south of Dublin Bay and a mile and a half northwest of Wicklow Head. It is a small commercial harbour and county town that offers a berth alongside its piers, an anchorage outside or the possibility of a club mooring if a one should be available.

Wicklow Harbour offers complete protection. In strong northeasterly to easterly winds a heavy swell develops in the outer harbour but a vessel can proceed upriver for further protection. The harbour offers secure access day or night, on any tide in all reasonable conditions and there are no immediate offlying dangers.



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Keyfacts for Wicklow Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supported


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supported


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged



 +353 404 67455     Club  +353 404 67526     wicklowsailing.com      Ch.37
Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 58.990' N, 006° 2.061' W

At the end of the East Pier at the harbour entrance beneath the pier head light. This is a 7 m round cast iron tower with lantern, painted white with a red horizontal band at the base; 11 m flash every 5 s, white or red depending on direction, visible for 13M.

What is the initial fix?

The following Wicklow initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 59.150' N, 006° 2.130' W
This waypoint is 300 metres directly north of the entrance.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Dublin Bay to Rosslare Harbour Route location.


Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Wicklow Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Greystones - 6.3 miles N
  2. Arklow - 7.4 miles SSW
  3. Bray Harbour - 8.5 miles N
  4. Sorrento Point - 10.7 miles N
  5. Dalkey Sound - 10.9 miles N
  6. Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 12 miles N
  7. Courtown Harbour - 13.4 miles SSW
  8. Dublin Port (Poolbeg Marina) - 14 miles NNW
  9. Balscadden Bay - 15.1 miles N
  10. Howth - 15.3 miles N
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Greystones - 6.3 miles N
  2. Arklow - 7.4 miles SSW
  3. Bray Harbour - 8.5 miles N
  4. Sorrento Point - 10.7 miles N
  5. Dalkey Sound - 10.9 miles N
  6. Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 12 miles N
  7. Courtown Harbour - 13.4 miles SSW
  8. Dublin Port (Poolbeg Marina) - 14 miles NNW
  9. Balscadden Bay - 15.1 miles N
  10. Howth - 15.3 miles N
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


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?
Wicklow Harbour as seen from the south
Image: SkycamIreland


Wicklow Harbour is a small commercial harbour fronted by two piers through which the Leitrim River discharges into the sea. The sizeable provincial and county town of Wicklow is situated within on the south side of the harbour.


Wicklow Harbour
Image: Sarah777 via CC BY-SA 2.0


Northern Approach Vessels approaching from the north will encounter Bray Head about 12 miles north by west of the harbour. The remarkable 237-metre high headland is fronted by bold precipitous cliffs along the face of which runs a railway. The resort town of Bray, situated about 1.2 miles north by northwest of the head, is fronted by a small boat harbour and town terraces and buildings that are prominent from seaward. The resort town of Greystones, fronted by a boat harbour that now includes a marina, is situated two and a half miles to the southeast of the head and is marked by a lighted buoy.


Bray Seafront with Bray Head in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


The Coast from Bray Head to Wicklow is composed of a low shingle beach along which the railway continues southward. It is flat a long way off with plenty of water except at the Moulditch Bank that has 3.8 metres over it. Leisure vessels may freely approach the shore to within half a mile. 5 metres and more will be found 400 metres off the shore to the south of the Moulditch.


Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south, after passing Cahore Point via the Rusk Channel, will next pass the low and rocky Kilmichael Point about 10 miles north by northeast. The coast between is moderately high. The prominent Tara Hill rises abruptly to an elevation of 251 metres about 3.5 miles southwest of Kilmichael Point. Arklow Head is located 2.2 miles north of Kilmichael Point with Arklow Rock, a conspicuous 123 metres high hill, rising close southwest of the head. The hill is being reduced by quarrying. About a mile and a half to the north of Arklow Head is the town of Arklow with its small port. Offshore the Arklow Bank is made conspicuous by its wind farm’s 106-metre turbines.

Vessels hugging the coast can avoid an adverse current. Those taking this approach should be watchful for the drying Wolf Rock that has foul ground in the vicinity. It lies about half a mile offshore and three miles south by southwest of Wicklow Head.

A mile and a half south of the head is the Horseshoe Bank. Made up of gravel and stone, with depths of less than a metre, it is marked by a lighted buoy on its southern end. There are no other outlying dangers between the mainland and the Arklow Bank obstructing northbound vessels.


Disused lighthouses on the summit of Wicklow Head
Image: Tourism Ireland


About 12 miles to the northeast of Arklow is the 71 meters high and prominent Wicklow Head. The head is readily identified by its two old lighthouses on its summit, plus the white walls and buildings on the seaward slope near the present lighthouse.

Wicklow Head Lighthouse - Fl (3) 15s 23M position: 52° 57.947’N, 005° 59.889’W


Wicklow Head Lighthouse
Image: Paul O'Donnell


There is also a light buoy marking an outfall pipeline situated almost a mile northeast from the shore.

Wicklow Outflow Buoy - Fl (4) Y 10s position: 52° 59.541’N, 006° 01.295’W

Wicklow Harbour lies a mile and a half to the northwest of Wicklow Head. On closer approaches vessels approaching from the south should keep well off the East Pier as the area outside is foul with the outermost Planet Rock, with 0.8 metres of cover, and Green Rock, with 0.8 metres of cover, situated about 100 metres out to seaward from the inner half of the breakwater.


Foul area fronting the inner half of East Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The currents inshore between Cahore Point and Wicklow Head set parallel with the coast and attain a spring velocity of about 3 knots. Overfalls off Kilmicheal Point can be very rough, as can the Glassgorman Bank, and are best avoided in rough weather. The currents which set strongly off Wicklow Head attain a velocity of about 4 kn in both directions. If on a fair tide keep east of the Horseshoe marker as there are lots of back-eddies to slow progress inside.


The West Pier as seen from outside the harbour area
Image: Michael Harpur



Initial fix location From the initial fix, immediately outside and to the northeast of the harbour entrance, the harbour will be readily apparent. It has two 250 metre long breakwaters extending from its shores; the West Pier to the northeast and the East Pier to the northwest that has a seven-metre high red and white tower standing at its head.


Wicklow Harbour's north facing entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


The entrance is located between the heads opening to the north. It is 120 metres wide and has a least depth of 3.2 metres at Mean Low Water. When approaching, two large silos standing on Packet Quay immediately inside the harbour will appear in the middle of the entrance. By night the head of the East Pier shows Fl. WR 5s 6M, the head of the West Pier is ISO G 4s, and Packet Quay has a light on a metal column Fl WG 10s 5m 6M. The harbour is almost always accessible.


Alongside the East Pier
Image: Michael Harpur
Haven location Inside there are berths alongside East Pier and at Packet Quay but none at West Pier where the area inside and to the south of this pier is largely occupied by local boat moorings.

Visiting yachts are expected to berth on the inside wall of East Pier where the wall has been boarded. It is 91 metres long and has depths alongside of up to 3.1 metres. Vessels may have to raft up depending on how busy it is, but a place will always be found. Vessels should not be left unattended here and care should be taken not to obstruct the lifeboat slip.

Anchoring inside the harbour is not permitted as it is constrained by the fairway and the established moorings. It would be unwise to attempt to anchor inside the harbour as the likely outcome would be that the ground tackle will foul in the ancient harbour. It is worth noting that the local sea swimming club run races in the harbour vicinity on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings in June, July and August, where up to 100 swimmers participate. This has both spectator appeal and considerations for safety on the water for all users.

An excellent anchorage may be found immediately outside the harbour to the north of the West Pier in sand and mud with 2.5 metres. This anchorage is protected from everything except northeasterly or easterly conditions – the weather in this area is predominantly southern to westerly winds. The shore here is steep-to shelving rapidly at the water’s edge so it is possible to come in close to the shore. Moreover, the closer in the vessel goes the better is the gravel and sand holding.

Those electing to berth outside should avoid anchoring over an outfall pipeline that enters the sea 200 metres to the northwest of the West Pier. It tends to the northeast with the seaward end of the outfall being indicated by the above-mentioned light buoy. It may also be worth approaching Wicklow Sailing Club to see if they have any moorings.

When northeast and east gales occur a heavy swell runs into the harbour that will subject all the outer berths to a heavy rolling swell. The Commercial Harbour, inside the river, is usually busy with ships unloading their cargos or fishing vessels.

The Letrim River
Image: Michael Harpur


However, this does provide protection from north-easterlies and in such an event it is worthwhile contacting the Harbour Master on +353 404 67455 (Mon-Fri 9-5) to see if it possible to accommodate a vessel further in. The quay is accessed via the dredged channel that leads along the inner side of East Pier Head and then into the river mouth. From there pass close along the east side of Packet Quay.


Why visit here?
Established by the Vikings, the name Wicklow comes from the word "Vikinglow" meaning "Viking meadow" or "Viking's lake". Akin to Arklow the Vikings established a base in the mid-9th century taking advantage of the natural harbour provided by the river and its fertile lands.

The area was occupied long before this as is evidenced by a Bronze Age cooking pit and hut uncovered in the lower area of the town in 2010. Radiocarbon-dating aged the discovery to 900BC. Much later Ptolemy's map, referred to as Menapia and dating back to 130 AD, shows the area to be settled by a Celtic tribe called the Cauci or Canci who originated from today's Belgium/German border. The towns Irish name is Cill Mhantáin meaning "church of the toothless one" indicating a 5th-century Gallic settlement.

Legend has it that this goes back to an original landing of Saint Patrick (circa AD 385 - 461) and his followers on a beach to the south of the harbour. The locals saw this as one of the areas regular incursions and attacked the party with rocks that knocked the front teeth out of one of Saint Patrick's party; Manntach meaning toothless one. Patrick assuaged the tribe and in time converted them to Christianity. He later returned to found a church that he dedicated to his injured follower Cill Mhantáin, the "church of the toothless one".

The Norse influence dominated for centuries until the Norman Conquest. They quickly built castles to fortify their lands and focal points for Norman rule. The more important areas had stone castles, such as Wicklow’s Black Castle that lies ruined on the coast to the south of the East Pier. The land-facing fortification was built by the Norman Maurice Fitzgerald on land provided by Strongbow. It was a significant structure on a well-chosen site, as it is surrounded by the sea on three sides leaving only one small piece of ground, cut through the underlying rock, to be defended by a large ditch spanned by a drawbridge.

A major pitched battle, the Battle of Wicklow, was fought in the Black Castle grounds in 1599 at the height of the Irish Nine Years War. The English Crown under Sir Henry Harrington planned to eliminate the Gaelic Irish forces that were a fraction of their number. The two groups initially met at Deputy's Pass where the English troops were utterly routed. They fell back upon Wicklow Castle in complete disorder chased by the Irish within half a mile of the town. The battle finally ended here with the complete defeat of the army; something that earned the Earl of Essex a sharp reprimand from Queen Elizabeth.

In 1641 the castle was once again taken by Luke O'Toole and a band of insurgents who laid siege to the town and castle but retreated on the approach of Sir Charles Coote with some English troops. Sir Charles Coote, who led the troops is then recorded as engaging in "savage and indiscriminate" slaughter of the townspeople in an act of revenge. Local oral history contends that one of these acts of "wanton cruelty" was the entrapment and deliberate burning to death of an unknown number of people in a building in the town.

From 1702 to 1928 Wicklow’s crime, cruelty, exile and misery were focused in Wicklow Gaol house. It was a place of execution up to the end of the 19th century. Wicklow Gaol received many of Wexford’s 1798 rebels, many of whom were executed and disposed of from fishing boats into waters offshore. Amongst their number was Billy Byrne, a rebellion leader, who met his end in Gallows Lane in 1799.

Today Wicklow is a tourist town with a wealth of historic sites such as the Black Castle ruins, and the Abbey ruins, and notable buildings include the Town Hall and the Gaol that is now a heritage centre and tourist attraction. Billy Byrne is commemorated by a statue in Market Square. Another monument in Fitzwilliam square commemorates Captain Robert Halpin one of the town’s most celebrated mariners. He was responsible for laying the first underwater cable communications between Europe and America in the 19th century.

Wicklow is today known as 'The Garden of Ireland', and is one of Ireland's scenic treasures with its magnificent hills and mountains, long sandy beaches, rivers and lakes. The dominant features are the Wicklow Mountains and their foothills. These are the largest highland area of Ireland with the highest summit being Lugnaquillia at 926 metres. This is an unspoilt wilderness of towering mountains and hidden valleys with fantastic views out to the Irish Sea, and north to Dublin from which the capitals famous River Liffey rises. The county's interesting ruins and many deep glens, especially Glendalough, are suitable for tours, and arrangements to visit the area can easily be made from the town via the tourist office.


The Wicklow Way walking trail
Image: Joe King via CC BY-SA 3.0


From a sailing perspective, Wicklow is a good harbour, with excellent provisioning and an abundance of things for the visiting yachtsman to see and do. It is an important yachting harbour being the host to Ireland's premier offshore yacht race, the Round Ireland Yacht Race External link. This is the second longest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar. The first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. Since then, held biannually, the fleet has grown steadily, attracting a record 60 entrants from all over Ireland and the British Isles in 1992. The town also boasts the Regatta Festival in August.


What facilities are available?
Visitors are welcome at Wicklow Sailing Club where male and female toilets/showers (for a small fee) and a handicapped toilet are available. The clubhouse is situated on the South Quay adjacent to the RNLI station. The bar is open seven nights a week during the summer months (Jun/Aug) and from Thursday to Sunday the rest of the year, usually from 8.30pm. Live music, meals or snacks are often available there, and also in the town any night of the week.

Gas Oil is available and other fuels by prior arrangement, also water is available at the Packet Pier and the North Quay. There are three major supermarkets within ten minutes walk from the East pier so it is an excellent location for provisions. You can usually find resources for rigging, engine and hull repairs.

Wicklow is a provincial town where there are shops, banks, an internet cafe, dentist, doctor, hospital, chemists, and a range of restaurants to choose from, all of which are three to four minutes walk form the East Pier. It also has a good Tourist Office to assist you to make the best use of your leisure time.

Bus Éireann and Irish Rail both operate through the town. Bus Éireann provides an hourly service, which is half hourly at peak time, to Dublin City Centre and Airport. A train service operates northbound to Dublin's Connolly Station and southbound to Rosslare Harbour with ferry connections to the UK and mainland Europe. Dublin International Airport is 40 miles away and accessible via the above mentioned bus service or via the train service utilising the airport Bus from BusÁras (Central Bus Station) less than 5 minutes walk from Connolly Station.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Wicklow Harbour. However as with any provincial area secure and lock up your vessel if leaving it unattended.


With thanks to:
Frank Murphy, Local sailor and member of Wicklow Sailing Club, and Roisin Hennessy, Vice Commodore WSC.


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The remains of Black Castle on the shore line
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism Ireland




Aerial views of Wicklow Harbour and The Black Castle




A summary of the life of Robert Hapin one of Wicklow's greatest mariners.



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