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Courtmacsherry

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Overview





Courtmacsherry Harbour is located on the southwest coast of Ireland about twenty miles southwest of Cork Harbour, in Co. Cork. It is set in an inlet formed by the estuary of the Argideen River which enters Courtmacsherry Bay at its northwest corner. The haven offers an anchorage off a large village with the potential to come alongside a pontoon.

Situated up a well-sheltered river estuary and nestled behind a ridge, Courtmacsherry offers complete protection. The slight exception to this is in a westerly gale where a wind over tide can make it uncomfortable. Access requires attentive navigation. Although the bay features some off-putting central obstructions external access is easy as there is a wide, well-marked approach path that leads up to the harbour entrance. It is the entrance that needs special attention as it has a bar and is subject to strong tides. Vessels carrying any draft will need to enter with half a following tide and will be navigating whilst being carried in by a significant tidal flow.
Please note

Tides in the estuary are very strong, especially at springs. Courtmacsherry should not be attempted in any conditions from the southeast or moderately strong conditions from the south. In strong south-easterlies or southerly conditions, the seas break on the bar rendering it impassable. A stranger should not consider entering Courtmacsherry by night.




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Keyfacts for Courtmacsherry
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPost Office in the areaBus service available in the areaHandicapped access supportedShore 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 arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

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
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
May 8th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPost Office in the areaBus service available in the areaHandicapped access supportedShore 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 arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 38.158' N, 008° 42.655' W

The Courtmacsherry pontoon, off the main quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Courtmacsherry initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 36.615' N, 008° 39.040' W
This is half a mile east of Horse Rock and between it and Black Tom. It is set in the middle of the white sector of the Wood Point light. A course of 325° for 2 miles will take a vessel to the entrance.


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 Courtmacsherry for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Broadstrand Bay - 0.8 miles SSE
  2. Coolmain Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
  3. Blindstrand Bay - 1.1 miles SE
  4. Seven Heads Bay - 1.7 miles S
  5. Dunworly Bay - 2.3 miles SSW
  6. Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.4 miles WSW
  7. Holeopen Bay West - 3.8 miles E
  8. Holeopen Bay East - 4.2 miles E
  9. Sandy Cove - 4.7 miles ENE
  10. Dunnycove Bay - 5 miles SW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Broadstrand Bay - 0.8 miles SSE
  2. Coolmain Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
  3. Blindstrand Bay - 1.1 miles SE
  4. Seven Heads Bay - 1.7 miles S
  5. Dunworly Bay - 2.3 miles SSW
  6. Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.4 miles WSW
  7. Holeopen Bay West - 3.8 miles E
  8. Holeopen Bay East - 4.2 miles E
  9. Sandy Cove - 4.7 miles ENE
  10. Dunnycove Bay - 5 miles SW
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?
Courtmacsherry Pier
Image: Gerard Ahern via CC BY-SA 2.0


Courtmacsherry Harbour, locally known as Courtmac, is set within the estuary of the Argideen River that enters the sea in the northeast corner of Courtmacsherry Bay between Wood Point and Lisheen Point a ½ mile to the north. The small village of Courtmacsherry consists of a single long street on the south side of the river and is situated a mile to the west of Wood Point with thick woods on rising ground behind.



Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the east will pass the conspicuous Old Head of Kinsale. The Old Head has no off-lying dangers and in settled conditions presents little issue. However races and overfalls form off the head at the extremity of the tides; to the southwest of the head in a west-going stream, and to the southeast of the head in an east-going stream. When overfalls are observed vessels should keep a mile off.

Western Approach Vessels approaching from the west will find clear water on approach to Seven Heads. Seven Heads is a bold bluff headland with an old telegraph tower on it and a smaller World War II watchpoint. The bottom around the head is uneven and rocky, causing overfalls during the strength of the tide.

The head's danger is Cotton Rock situated 300 metres out from the shore on the east side of the head. Awash at high water and drying to 3.6 metres it is situated half a mile northeast of Seven Heads southernmost point.



Baun Bank, with at least a depth of 11 metres water, half a mile to the east of the head, and Carrigroar Rock with 8.7 metres of cover, a mile and a half east of Seven Heads Bay, break in bad weather.
Southern Approach Southern approaches are clear of dangers and not subject to races.

With the exceptions of Cotton and Horse Rocks there are no obstructions between the headlands and the suggested initial fix; all the dangers are in the centre. Barrel Rock is the main drying rock in this area. It is over a mile out into the bay and was marked by a perch and then by a south cardinal buoy that is now unmaintained and cannot be relied upon. Black Tom resides to the west of this, Blueboy Rock to the east and the Inner Barrels to the north. Black Tom has a buoy situated a mile south of the rock itself.

Barrel Rock - (no longer maintained) position: 51° 37.006’N, 008° 37.298’W

Black Tom Buoy - Fl G 5s position: 51° 36.408’N, 008° 37.959’W

Horse Rock and Foal Rock that are situated a third of a mile off Barry's Point and dry to 3.6m are the key dangers to avoid on approach.

Horse Rock (& Foal Rock) - unmarked position: 51° 36.630’N, 008° 40.000’W



The initial fix sets up the preferred path of entry but there are other good approaches in favourable conditions when a vessels position is certain. Vessels approaching from the Old Head in good conditions can ignore the initial fix and cut between The Barrel Rock and Black Tom to make directly for Courtmacsherry. There is half a mile between these with ample water and it is safe to leave the Barrel Rock two hundred metres to starboard and then make directly for Wood Point. Vessels approaching from the northeast side of Courtmacsherry Bay may, with the benefit of good visibility, also safely cross the bay between the northern extremity of the Inner Barrels and the north shore.

Similarly, vessels approaching along the western shoreline may freely pass between the Horse Rock and Barry’s Point.
Please note

The Barrel Rock marker cannot be relied upon as it is no longer a maintained navigation mark.



Inner Barrels – (northernmost extremity) position: 51° 37.570’N, 008° 37.575’W,

Initial fix location From the initial fix plot a course towards Wood Point. The entrance is situated in a bight in the northwest corner of the bay behind Wood Point that can be difficult to identify.

Coolmain Point, Lisheen Point and Wood Point tend to blend together as a coastline and especially so in poor light. However, on closer approaches, Wood Point distinguishes itself as a high, well-defined point, with the Wood Point Light a 3 metres high white metal column standing at an elevation of 15 metres.
As vessels progress into the northwest corner the water shoals gradually to 3 metres abreast of Wood Point that is bold-to, and may be rounded closely.

Wood Point - Fl (2) WR 58, 15m, 6M position: 51° 38.000’N, 008° 41.000’W

The entrance is marked by the Wood Point light to port and Courtmacsherry buoy to starboard with the Courtmacsherry buoy moored off a spit extending from the north shore. A shoal bank extends to the north of Wood Point reducing the navigable width in the channel to scarcely more than 200 metres off the south shore. The north side of the channel is marked by unlit spar buoys and all marks including the light buoy should be kept close to starboard.

Courtmacsherry Buoy - Fl G 3s position: 51° 38.287’N, 008° 40.897’W

The bar lies immediately within the Wood Point light and Courtmacsherry buoy and is mostly sheltered from the heave of the sea. It tends to shift unpredictably and is largely driven by the amount and strength of the preceding south easterly gales. Likewise, the channel marks can be damaged in such conditions and they cannot be relied upon. For entry, it would be judicious to assume it is 1.2 metres deep at LWS and assume a limiting depth of chart datum in the channel. Vessels of any draft are advised to enter on the first half of a following tide.
Please note

Arriving on low water the depth is a challenge and there are several alternative tide wait locations listed above, most noteworthy of these is Coolmain Bay. Vessels proceeding to enter should make allowance for the river’s significant tidal flows. This is particularly the case at spring tides where specific attention is required to avoid being pushed out of the channel and set down onto moored boats.



The first two spars are directly west from the Courtmacsherry Buoy and easily identifiable. The third spar is situated a quarter of a mile to the southwest of the second spar buoy off the old Lifeboat House. This is often difficult to see as it can be concealed amongst moored boats - look for a church and a white building on the shore in the background and it will be in that line of sight. Once past the third marker, a line of moorings can be followed up to the village quay.
Please note

A late evening entry that tracks westward could be directly into the setting sun making the first two spar buoys difficult.



Generally speaking, the entrance is well marked and easily managed and apart from other moored vessels, it is all sand so there is nothing hard to hit for a vessel that loses its way.

Haven location Visiting vessels may come alongside the 36-metre long pontoon, off the main quay. The pontoon supports up two metres at its lowest tides but can be subject to streams that reach up to 2 knots at springs. Pontoon space is at a premium and the harbour master will gladly advise of alternatives if no alongside berth is available.

Vessels may anchor northeast of Ferry Point between the first two spar buoys in depths of up to 5 metres. Stay at least 200 metres off Ferry Point as there is a shoal, just off the old Lifeboat House, and keep clear of the small boats moored to the west of it as it is shallow in this area.

There is an anchorage near the third spar buoy off the quay at Courtmacsherry. Depths of 3 to 5 metres will be found here with a sandy bottom. Avoid anchoring in such a fashion as to impede the RNLI lifeboat, that lies afloat, or in the area where local fishing boats are moored as the ground is foul. There is an area to the north of the quay that is kept free of moorings to allow visiting boats to anchor. There are also reportedly visitor moorings to the north of the Pier Head Bar.
Please note

This area has a lot of bottom weed and the anchor should be well dug in to be certain it is secure. Due to the strong alternating tides, it would be advisable to lay anchors up and downstream covering both tidal runs. A tripping line is also recommended as there are quite a few old and abandoned moorings lying around.



Above Courtmacsherry the harbour expands, and at low water presents a considerable area of mud and sand extending 2 miles to the west to the village of Timoleague.


Why visit here?
Courtmacsherry derives its name from MacSharry's Court, in Irish Cúirt Mhic Seafraidh. It is a very pretty, hospitable, village and harbour at the mouth of the Argideen River.

Around the time of the Norman invasion of Ireland the major townships in the area were those now known as Timoleague, Lislee, Barryroe and Dunworly. Among the Norman settlers were the De Barrys and the Hodnetts. The former built the castle at Timoleague, and the latter settled in Lislee. The Barrys flourished and gave their name to Barryroe and Rathbarry, whereas the Hodnetts “degenerated into mere Irish ”. One branch changed their name to MacSeafraidh, meaning ‘son of Geoffrey’, that was subsequently anglicised to MacSherry, or McSharry, and hence the area acquired its name. Although the Barrys and Hodnetts still live in the district, there are no McSherrys.

The Earl of Shannon built a summer home here in the late 18th century and planted many exotic trees, shrubs and woods around the village. The village continued to grow in Victorian times, as a haven for holidaymakers from the city of Cork, and as a result, several new houses were built. This development was spurred on by the arrival in 1891 of the railway that remained active until its closure in 1961.

Today Courtmacsherry is a little sea-front village that consists of a single long street embraced by thick beautiful woodland on rising ground behind. The ridge protects it from the Atlantic and adds to its very relaxed, friendly demeanour. Courtmac, as it is colloquially known, is referred to locally with good humour as "A quiet drinking village with a fishing problem". The village and harbour have escaped major development because of its remote out of the way cul-de-sac location.

The village's main industry consists of commercial and sports fishing and a moderate tourist industry that thrives during the summer months. It consists primarily of a hotel and a caravan park, that still largely caters to visitors from Cork. Entertainment can be found in the several bars and pubs in and around the village. There is also a festival at the end of July and the beginning of August, with lots of activities and competitions for children, and entertainment and events for adults.

For walkers, there are a host of spectacular walks in the area. The woods planted by the Earl of Shannon continue beyond the village eastwards to Wood Point and are visible from seaward on entry. Between the village and "The Point" the trees run right to the water's edge and there are several natural bathing coves along the way. This connects a network of marked walks around the rugged cliffs and shoreline to Dunworley and on through Barrryscove and Ardgehane to Aghafore and Barryshall. The Seven Heads Walks booklet, available from most retailers in Courtmacsherry, covers this in detail. Alongside the route, descriptions is a detailed history of the area and the various flora and fauna to watch out for.

Most notably the two-mile walk westwards along the estuary, or via small boat upriver, that leads to the village of Timoleague is well worthwhile. The village is known for the remains of its fine Franciscan friary which was founded by the order in 1240. The friars remained in the abbey until 1642 when the friary and town were burnt by Lord Forbes soldiers. It is the largest of the religious houses in County Cork. There is also excellent river fishing at Timoleague as well as the best local provision shops.

Much of the village life centres around the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat service that was one of the first established in Ireland. It was a forerunner of the present Trent Class Lifeboat that rescued the survivors of the RMS Lusitania on the May 7th, 1915. At that time the vessel had no auxiliary power and the rescue operation was hindered by the lack of wind. The crew had to row the twelve miles distance to the stricken vessel and the journey took three hours each way. The current Trent Class Lifeboat would make the journey in 20 minutes.

The sheltered harbour of Courtmacsherry permeates a cosy sense of calm and security, even with rough weather outside in the bay. It is an ideal place for a boatman to come and rest for a while, and the anchorages surrounding the mudflats are a birdwatcher's paradise.


What facilities are available?
There is water and electricity available at the pontoon and toilets ashore. No showers are available although this may be possible by arrangement with the hotel at the eastern end of the quay. Also available are rubbish disposal, and diesel fuel by arrangement via a tanker on the adjoining quay.
The village of Courtmacsherry situated on the south side of the harbour has most basic provisions and a post office. Two miles away Timoleague has a large grocery store that offers a better provisioning option. There are a choice of pubs and restaurants in the immediate vicinity.

The daily 239 bus service runs from Cork, via Bandon, to Courtmacsherry. A local taxi service is also available in the area. The village is about 40km southwest of Cork city, and 10 minutes drive east from the larger provincial town of Clonakilty.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel at Courtmacsherry.


With thanks to:
Anthony McCarthy, local yachtsman. Photographs with thanks to achensonblog, Niall at the Pink Elephant and Burke Corbett.


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