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Ballydehob Bay

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Overview





Located on Ireland’s southwest coast, Ballydehob Bay lies at the head of the extensive shallow Roaringwater Bay inlet. It offers a secluded anchorage in a remote area with access to the small coastal town up the estuary with a rise of the tide. It is also possible to dry out alongside the old town quay.

Located on Ireland’s southwest coast, Ballydehob Bay lies at the head of the extensive shallow Roaringwater Bay inlet. It offers a secluded anchorage in a remote area with access to the small coastal town up the estuary with a rise of the tide. It is also possible to dry out alongside the old town quay.

Sheltered from the sea by rocks and islands to the westward of it, Ballydehob Bay provides a good well-sheltered anchorage. Access is available at all stages of the tide requires attentive daylight navigation to find and pass through a fairway leading to the bay through extensive marine farms in the head of the bay.



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Keyfacts for Ballydehob Bay
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tender

Considerations
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location

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
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
November 3rd 2021

Summary

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tender

Considerations
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 32.605' N, 009° 25.938' W

This is in 3 metres inside the entrance points of Ballydehob Bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Roaringwater Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 31.438' N, 009° 25.960' W
This is the vicinity of the entrance to the fairway that opens between the aquaculture rafts in the north end of Roaringwater Bay.


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 and Poulgorm Bay Click to view haven for local approaches.


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 Ballydehob Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Poulgorm Bay - 0.3 miles ENE
  2. Rossbrin Cove - 1.1 miles SW
  3. Horse Island - 1.4 miles SW
  4. Rincolisky Harbour - 1.5 miles S
  5. East Pier - 1.7 miles S
  6. Reena Dhuna - 1.7 miles ESE
  7. Dereenatra - 1.7 miles WSW
  8. Trá Bán - 1.8 miles S
  9. Inane Creek - 1.8 miles SE
  10. Turk Head - 1.9 miles SSE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Poulgorm Bay - 0.3 miles ENE
  2. Rossbrin Cove - 1.1 miles SW
  3. Horse Island - 1.4 miles SW
  4. Rincolisky Harbour - 1.5 miles S
  5. East Pier - 1.7 miles S
  6. Reena Dhuna - 1.7 miles ESE
  7. Dereenatra - 1.7 miles WSW
  8. Trá Bán - 1.8 miles S
  9. Inane Creek - 1.8 miles SE
  10. Turk Head - 1.9 miles SSE
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?
Ballydehob during the Gathering of the Boats
Image: Tom Vaughan External link


Ballydehob Bay is situated at the head of the extensive Roaringwater Bay that lies at the northeastern extreme of Long Island Bay. It is a secluded anchorage in a bay set into a rural landscape about 1½ miles down the drying estuary that leads to the coastal village of Ballydehob. The small village has a drying stone quay just below its weir and signature stone viaduct.

Despite its forbidding name the bays at the head of Roaringwater Bay, Ballydehob Bay and Poulgorm Bay, ½ a mile eastward, provide quiet and well-sheltered anchorages to leisure vessels. Set deep into the bay they are well sheltered from the sea by the rocks, islands and fish farms to the south-westward.


Yacht dried out alongside Ballydahob Quay
Image: Andrew Wood via CC BY-SA 2.0


It is also possible for shoal draft vessels that can take to the bottom to obtain perfect protection by drying out alongside the quay. It would be best to do a reconnoitre of the quay first by tender.


How to get in?
The anchorage in the mouth of Ballydehob Bay
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, Poulgorm Bay Click to view haven, ½ a mile eastward, provides approach directions as its path passes over the mouth of Ballydehob Bay.


Skeaghanore West Quay in the northeast corner of the bay
Image: Gordon Hatton via CC BY-SA 2.0


Haven location Anchor according to draft and conditions. Expect 3 metres LAT in the entrance reducing to 1.2 metres LAT in the middle of the bay. Ballydehob Bay has excellent mud holding.

Land at a small quay at the end of a lane from Skeaghanore West in the northeast end of Ballydehob Bay. Alternatively, land at Ballydehob's quay 1½ miles further up the estuary is also possible on the rise.


The view over the mouth of the estuary from the Skeaghanore West Quay
Image: Gordon Hatton via CC BY-SA 2.0


A trip by tender up to Ballydehob is made easy by buoys that mark the meandering fairway snaking up the estuary. On a rising tide, it takes about 20 minutes by tender. A dock, with a slip, will be seen on the north side of the quay that is used by small local boats.


The run up to Ballydehob
Image: Tom Vaughan External link


Shoal draft vessels that can take to the bottom can dry out alongside the quay over a firm bottom of small stones. Proceed as above and when after the narrows the tree-covered Illaunroe is abrest the arches of the old viaduct will mark the position of the quay.


Ballydehob Weir, Quay and slipway
Image: Tom W External link


Floating weed over the reefs that flank the final approach to the quay makes their position known.
The quay is situated immediately downstream of a weir.


Ballydehob Quay
Image: Andrew Wood via CC BY-SA 2.0


The best place to come alongside is the inner east side of the quay, just above protruding steps.


Why visit here?
Ballydehob takes its name from the Irish Béal an Dá Chab, 'the ford of the two cabs' or fords. The name is derived from its position being at the confluence of three streams, whose united waters are then crossed by a handsome stone bridge.


Ballydehob Bridge Circa 1899-1910
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


Copper mining in the area goes back to the Bronze Age (2200-600 B.C.) when Mount Gabriel, just west of the village, was extensively mined by the earliest inhabitants of the island. Ballydehob's heyday would come in the early part of the 19th century when copper mining once again took off in the region. These mines were most notably The Cappagh mine, just along the shoreline, on Horse Island, Ballycumisk, Cusheen, Letter and Crookhaven, while barytes deposits at Dreenalomane were being exploited on a large scale.


The light rail connected to Schull pier
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


During this period the mining companies, their miners and boats from the other inhabited islands offshore would come upriver to stock up with supplies from the village. Likewise, sand-boats brought sea-sand into Ballydehob to enrich lime-deprived farmland also plied their way up the estuary.


The old stone warehouses on the quay which were once at the heart of brusque
trade

Image: Andrew Wood via CC BY-SA 2.0


This all made Balldehob a busy place that was doing a bisque trade. By the 1840s the population of the area had swelled to nearly 20,000. It must have been a swinging boomtown as a police constabulary and barracks was established in Ballydehob approximately 6 years before the first London police force. But then disaster struck when the potato crop failed and the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849 descended. This affected Ballydehob and the whole of West Cork in a most devastating way. Thousands died and thousands more emigrated. Between 1841 and 1851 the population of the area fell by 42%, a decline that was much higher than the national average. Ballydehob never recovered and it has a resident population of less than 300 today.


Ballydehob retains a choice of pubs from the days when it was swinging
Image: Jonathan Billinger via CC BY 2.0


The most striking feature of the village would come in the latter half of that century in the shape of its beautiful twelve-arched stone railway viaduct. The project began in 1884 main railway line from Cork had reached Skibbereen and was paid for by many West Cork ratepayers. It took two years to complete the 14¼ miles of line and the viaduct that spans the river just above the quay. The completed line was generally level but with a few steep gradients for short lengths and several sharp curves. The single crossing place and only major engineering work that was required was at Ballydehob with its viaduct. It also had the only principal stop point as all the other stops were never anything more than roadside halts, although there is a siding at Kilcoe. When complete the service used a, seemingly insubstantial, '3-foot narrow gauge' which doubtlessly dictated the railway's speed limit of 15 mph.


One of Ballydehob's many pubs
Image: Jonathan Billinger via CC BY 2.0


The service was a complete success and was extended to Schull Pier five years later mainly for the fishing trade. Through the years some forty men were steadily employed by this section of the West Carbery Tramway & Light Railway, or the 'tram' as the train was called locally. But by the middle of the 20th-century mounting losses, coal shortages and the arrival of buses and motor cars made it inviable and the railway was finally closed in 1947. The viaduct is now pedestrianised offering wonderful views out over the estuary.


Ballydehob's pretty stone twelve-arch viaduct
Image: Andrew Wood via CC BY-SA 2.0


Despite its small population this small village boasts a dozen pubs and eateries, and ample shops to provision. The charming gateway to the rugged and beautiful Mizen peninsula, or the termination of Roaringwater Bay for mariners, has plenty of interest. Plenty of festivals such as the Ballydehob Traditional Music Weekend, annual traditional music, song, and dance festival, the Ballydehob Jazz Festival, Ballydehob Country Music Festival, Ballydehob Old Time Threshing & Vintage Weekend, Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival, and West Cork Yoga Festival keep this a lively village. Most notably amongst these for mariners is the annual 'Gathering of the Boats', or Cruinniu na mBad, where a flotilla of working boats and other traditional sailing vessels descend upon Ballydehob Quay.


The weir creating a lake-like surface that reflects the pretty viaduct
Image: NutterguyIrl at English Wikipedia CC BY 3.0


From a boating perspective, this is another excellent anchorage and/or berth in this wonderful cruising ground. From the bay this charismatic little village, on a rising tide, is only 20 minutes up the estuary by tender. Indeed those with vessels that can dry are welcome to come alongside the quay. Alternatively, one can stay out in the quiet of the bay, in a natural setting with the peaceful company of the waders and wildfowl on the ebb tide.


What facilities are available?
Ballydehob, 20 minutes by tender at high water, has a water tap 300m from the quay, a bottle bank and litter bins. A service station fuel and groceries, as does a small shop up the main street. There is a laundrette and hardware, health and gourmet food stores and a good second-hand bookshop. The town has a golf range with a five-hole course.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored in Ballydehob.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur eOceanic.







Ballydehob during the Gathering of the Boats Festival



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