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Wexford Harbour

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Overview





Wexford Harbour and town is located ten miles north of Ireland’s southeast corner. It is situated in a shallow, eastward-facing river estuary that is crossed by a marked five-mile long channel to the quays. Visiting boats may come alongside fishing boats moored on the town quay, anchor off or pick up club visitor moorings inside the harbour.

The harbour provides complete protection. In the past, Wexford Harbour was somewhat exposed to the southeast but a new pier, established on the opposite side of the river to the town, protects this exposure. Attentive navigation is required for access as, although the harbour has a very well marked and maintained channel, there is little margin for error.
Please note

Wexford Harbour’s limiting factor is its draft restrictions. Parts of the entrance channel can be shallow depending on recent storms, making it advisable to make preliminary enquiries before a planned entry. The harbour should be avoided entirely in strong easterly conditions where the sea breaks on the entrances sand bar making it impassable.




1 comment
Keyfacts for Wexford Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore 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 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 areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring 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 baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterways

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
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore 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 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 areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring 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 baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterways



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 20.360' N, 006° 27.370' W

This is in the middle of the moorings off the town quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Wexford Harbour Bar Buoy Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
52° 19.140' N, 006° 19.390' W
This waypoint is the 2011 position of the Bar Buoy Safe Water Mark. The bar buoy is a red pillar buoy with a radar reflector (Lighted) L Fl 10s.


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.

  • Confirm the entire channel has sufficient depth of water in advance.

  • Find the Bar Buoy and look inshore for the first channel marks.

  • Follow the chain of markers all the way in.

  • Do not diverge from the marked channel as there is little tolerance.


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 Wexford Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Rosslare Bay (or South Bay) - 3.1 miles SE
  2. Rosslare Europort (Rosslare Harbour) - 4.2 miles SE
  3. Ballytrent - 5.4 miles SSE
  4. Carne - 5.8 miles SSE
  5. Kilmore Quay - 7 miles SSW
  6. Little Saltee (landing beach) - 7.9 miles SSW
  7. Little Saltee (east side) - 8.1 miles SSW
  8. Little Saltee (west side) - 8.2 miles SSW
  9. Great Saltee (landing beach) - 8.8 miles SSW
  10. Gilert Bay - 9.1 miles SSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Rosslare Bay (or South Bay) - 3.1 miles SE
  2. Rosslare Europort (Rosslare Harbour) - 4.2 miles SE
  3. Ballytrent - 5.4 miles SSE
  4. Carne - 5.8 miles SSE
  5. Kilmore Quay - 7 miles SSW
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?
Crescent Quay Wexford Town
Image: Tourism Ireland

Formed by the estuary of the River Slaney, Wexford Harbour is fronted by a shallow, eastward-facing estuary that largely dries plus a sandbar at its entrance. Wexford Town is situated on the west bank of the river about six miles west of the entrance and somewhat further through the channel that snakes its way in around the estuary. The town is fronted by quays, and two conspicuous church spires standing on the rising ground above the river’s western bank can be seen from a great distance. In the past, Wexford Harbour was extremely challenging to visit but an investment in channel markings, plus the protection afforded by a new pier added to the east bank of the river opposite the town quay, has made it significantly more accessible and secure.

Convergance Point Use the directions provided for Rosslare Europort Click to view haven, locally known as Rosslare Harbour, for approaches to Rosslare or South Bay.

The central issue with the harbour is the depth in the approach channel that is subject to frequent change as its estuary sands shift. This largely depends on the winter storm activity, plus to a lesser degree silting, that alters the channel each year. As such, charted depths and sandbank structure are entirely historic and cannot be used. A reasonable expectation is that the town quays can be comfortably accessed by vessels of a draft of 1.8 metres and can support vessels of up to 3 metres that are prepared to work the tides. The deepest berths charted in the harbour are 3.7 metres.


Small boat following the channel marks into the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The harbour channel markers are regularly maintained and can be relied upon to follow the shifts. Likewise, deep water will always be found in the harbour fairway located in the mouth of the River Slaney, between the south and north training walls alongside the town. Outside of this, most of the harbour is silted up with more than half of its present extent uncovering and the remainder shallow.

It is therefore essential to check that the entire channel has sufficient depth, or can be made so by working the tides, to support the approaching vessel’s draft. This may easily be archived via enquires to Rosslare Radio, on channel 12 or phone +353 53 9133249, or via Wexford Harbour Boat Club, available on +353 53 91 22039, prior to entry. Either will be delighted to advise on the current status and depths within the channel.

The latest local data, such as weather from sensors mounted in the harbour, a chart showing the current channel layout, plus a specific tide chart are available from Wexford Harbour Info plus the Wexford Harbour Boat Club, (WHBC) site.

Should sufficient depths be available in the channel, first-time visitors should time their visit to utilise good conditions, ideally HW minus 2 hours, daylight with fair visibility to follow the closely spaced channel markers.
Please note

Please note the least depth over the bar has been reported to be about 1.5 metres. In strong winds between southeast and northeast, the seas break heavily on the bar making it impassable. In these circumstances, it would be best to round Carnsore Point and head for Waterford Harbour that provides excellent all weather protection.



Initial fix location From the initial fix situated in the immediate vicinity of the 2011 position Wexford Harbour Bar Buoy, the Bar Buoy as it is known locally, should be visible. All approaches centre on finding the constantly changing Bar Buoy, that lies somewhere between The Raven Point and Dogger Bank typically on the 10-metre contour. This marks the start of a line of clearly visible port and starboard channel markers that lead into the quays.

Bar Buoy (2011) position: 52° 19.14' N, 006° 19.39' W - Buoy (Lighted) Safe Water Mark L Fl 10s

From the bar buoy, the channel marker buoys should be clearly visible out to the west as there is little distance between them. Then it is simply a matter of following the chain of markers in. The town’s conspicuous church spires will be clearly visible in the distance.
Please note

For those familiar with the harbour, but who have not visited recently, the position of the channel has moved south in the past few years and is deeper.



The channel is long, approximately 4 nautical miles, and snakes around the bay so a transit hour should be factored into tidal planning. The shallowest point of the channel is typically found in the sheltered inner reach of the harbour.
Please note

Track in carefully staying in line and passing close to the marks as there is very little tolerance in parts of the channel. The conspicuous Black Man south cardinal is located on the end of the north training wall but the wall itself covers at high water and it is important to pass well south of this marker.



The town is situated on the west bank of the river fronted by a half mile of quays below Wexford Bridge that spans the mouth of the river. A new quay has been added on the opposite and eastern side of the river to the town from which the north training wall extends southeast to the Black Man marker. The bridge restricts vessels of any airdraft higher than the 5.8 metres centre arch’s vertical clearance.



Haven location Leisure craft may anchor in the river harbour between Ballast Bank and Wexford Bridge, in depths from 2.3 to 6 metres. Please note streams are strong and a tripping line is advised in this historic harbour. Alongside berths are available at the town quays or rafted up with from 0.3 metres to 3.7 metres, and 2.7 metres. Some visitor moorings are provided by WHBTC, close north of the Ballast Bank.





Vessels that can pass under the bridge will find Wexford Sailing Club half a mile above the bridge off the south bank of the river, with the pathway marked by a further two channel marks. There is a boat slip 300 metres from the clubhouse.

Craft that do not exceed a draught of 1.1 metres will find the River Slaney navigable for a distance of 19 miles. With some planning, it may be possible to reach Enniscorthy which is 13 miles upriver from Wexford.


Why visit here?
The ancient County town of Wexford, in Irish Loch Garman, is situated where the River Slaney widens into a spacious harbour before exiting into the Irish Sea. According to local legend the town acquired its ‘Irish’ name from a young man called Garman Garbh who drowned on the river mouth’s mudflats in floodwaters released by an enchantress. The resulting lake was thus named the Lake, Loch, of Garman.

The modern name of Wexford is derived from the much later Viking period who founded the town in about 800AD. The name is derived from the name Veisafjoror that translates appropriately to ‘inlet in the mudflats’ and the name has altered little through the centuries. For the 350 years that followed, the Viking establishment remained a largely independent settlement in Wexford only paying token dues to the Irish Kings of Leinster.

This all changed with the Norman invasion of Ireland. This invasion was a two-stage process. The first wave was a loosely associated collection of Norman knights led by Fitz-Stephen that landed in Bannow Bay in 1169. The invasion only began in earnest the following year when the main body of Norman, Welsh and Flemish forces landed under the command of Raymond le Gros, Raymond Fitzwilliam, and then the invasion leader Strongbow, Richard de Clare. Wexford town, however, was to feel the immediate invasion impact as it took the full brunt of the first wave.

After landing Fitz-Stephen joined forces with Diarmait MacMurrough’s forces, the ousted King of Leinster, who brought about the invasion to regain his kingdom. They immediately set out for Wexford town after a brief passing skirmish in Duncomick, Dún Cormaic meaning fort of Cormaic, they set up camp outside Wexford fort laying siege to the town. Their first attack was repulsed with the loss of 18 Normans and 3 defenders. Fitz-Stephen then ordered his men to burn all the ships in the town's harbour. The next morning, the attack on Wexford began again. Although the Norse inhabitants resisted strongly they were persuaded by the Bishop of Ferns to accept a settlement with MacMurrough. The defenders sent out envoys and through this negotiation agreed to surrender and renew their allegiance to Diarmait. Therein, technically, the first Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in this settlement in Selskar Abbey. The fatalities of the first offensive are believed to have been the only deaths during this relatively bloodless siege; this was not to be the case for the next 1649 Siege of Wexford.

This Oliver Cromwell siege was to be a much more bloodthirsty affair. His parliamentary army of 7000-foot soldiers and 2000 cavalry camped north of the town and sent a detachment to capture Rosslare fort at the mouth of the harbour. Once this was secure Cromwell's fleet could enter the harbour unopposed. The army moved to the south of the town and bombarded Wexford Castle. Initially, Cromwell issued a summons to surrender, offering lenient terms in the hope that he could secure Wexford intact and use it as winter quarters for his troops. The mayor, aldermen and many citizens of Wexford were prepared to surrender but the military commander played for time. Cromwell lost patience and talks broke down.

After a week’s bombardment his troops breached the defences and the Castle’s commander surrendered. The Castle guns were then turned on the town and Cromwell's troops launched an immediate attack on the town's defenders. Irish troops made a stand in the market square, called the ‘Bull Ring’, but were quickly overwhelmed. Cromwell and his officers made no attempt to restrain their soldiers, who slaughtered the Wexford defenders and plundered the town. Hundreds of civilians were shot or drowned as they tried to escape the carnage by fleeing across the River Slaney. Estimates of the death toll vary. Cromwell himself thought that over 2000 of the town's defenders had been killed and much of the town, including its harbour, was burned and looted. As many as 1,500 civilians were also killed in the sacking. Cromwell’s principal regret was that the town was so badly damaged during the sack that it was no longer suitable as winter quarters for his troops. He reported that the remaining civilians had "run off" and requested soldiers to be sent from England to re-populate the town and re-open its port.

The later 1798 United Irishmen revolt was to see more slaughter in the town. At the time County Wexford was the centre of the Rebellion against English rule, Wexford town was held by the rebels throughout the fighting. The ‘Bull Ring’ was the scene of another notorious massacre of local Loyalists by the United Irishmen who executed them there and on the then wooden bridge over the river. Immediately afterwards the ‘Bull Ring’ became an open-air armaments factory where pikes and other weapons for the insurgents were built and repaired. This is commemorated today by the ‘Pikeman’ statue which stands centrally in the Bull Ring.

With this legacy of uprising and defeat, it is unsurprising that one of Wexford’s most cherished sons was to feature in a more successful revolution. This is John Barry, March 25, 1745, to 1803, who was an officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and later the United States Navy. He is widely credited as being "The Father of the American Navy". Appointed a Captain in the Continental Navy in 1775 he was the first Captain placed in command of a US warship commissioned for service under the Continental flag. He went on to become America's first commissioned naval officer, at the rank of Commodore, receiving his commission from President George Washington in 1797. A significant statue on Commercial Quay portrays him looking out over Wexford Harbour.

Throughout these trials and tribulation, the town’s axis of history moved slightly southward to the towns small square known as the ‘Bull Ring’. Originally a beach where boats laid up to land their produce into the town's markets, it got its name from the bloodthirsty sport of bull baiting. This was introduced to the town by the Butchers Guild, when from 1621 to 1770 bulls were baited twice a year and their hides presented to the Mayor.

In the nineteenth century the Port of Wexford became important. It derived great commercial advantage by being the only harbour between Dublin and Waterford, and the outlet of a rich agricultural district. Coal was its major import plus agricultural machinery whilst grain, cattle, pigs, butter, bacon, oysters, and pit wood were its chief exports. In 1861 alone, 813 vessels carrying 81,779 tons of freight arrived, of which 161 were steamers and 40 from the UK colonies and other countries. The custom dues amounted to £175,701; this was a wealthy hive of activity in its time. However in the 20th-century as commercial ships increased in size, the port declined owing to the estuary's constantly silting sands. It became unprofitable to dredge the channel from the harbour mouth to the town quays in order to accommodate these larger ships, and so in 1968, the port closed. In the 1990's the old wooden fronts to the quays were removed as part of a development plan to upgrade the area as a town amenity, as well as to retain it as a commercially viable waterfront. Today the port is now used exclusively by the local mussel dredgers and fishermen, and for local and visiting pleasure craft.

Wexford town has a diverse wealth of leisure attractions to offer visiting yachtsmen. The town has plenty of lively pubs, bars and hotels which provide quality live entertainment most evenings, plus several top class restaurants to choose from. For art lovers, a visit to the Wexford Arts Centre is very rewarding as the Centre provides a year-round programme of artistic activity for the town. On the outskirts of the town, no more than 5km from the quay, there is the Irish National Heritage Park. For further details of what's on during your visit, there is a Tourist Office conveniently situated on the quay.


From a practical boating perspective, Wexford is an excellent place to reprovision a boat. There are two major supermarkets immediately alongside the quay and the town’s main high street is a short stroll away. Moreover, it is also a good pick-up or drop-off point for crew. It has very good connections to Rosslare Europort, which is only 11 miles away, an hour to Waterford with its airport, and two hours to distant Dublin serviced by national rail and local and national bus networks.


What facilities are available?
Wexford does not have a marina or visitors moorings. However you are always welcome to come alongside the quay or mussel dredgers (that generally do not fish in summer months) without berthing fees.

Wexford is a primary regional town featuring shopping, restaurants, cinemas, trains and bus connections to Dublin and elsewhere in the country.

Wexford Harbour Boat Club welcomes visiting yacht crews providing a bar, showers and toilet facilities. Wexford Harbour Boat Club is however above the bridge, about a kilometres walk by road, and most people find it quicker to use the dingy to pass under the bridge and tie up at the club pontoon. Power boat cruisers are welcome to come up to the Boat Club and arrange for a refuelling lorry at the club pontoon. Contact a local member to have this arranged.


Any security concerns?
Wexford does not have any particular security issues. You can leave a boat unattended but it is advisable to lock it up and don’t leave anything visible on the decks.


With thanks to:
Jack Higginbotham and Brian Coulter, Wexford Harbour Boat Club.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.







































Aerial overviews of the Wexford Harbour area



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Add your review or comment:


Ron Lub wrote this review on May 30th 2019:

Wexford is a nice town to visit.
With a nice shoppingcenter. we took a mooring here, the fee was €10.00 a night but anchoring is also possible.
The entrance thrue the banks looks difficult but is no problem.
Before you go contact Phil the harbourmaster and he tells you the best time to come.
Also you can download a app with the latest buoy movements, you can also use this app to navigate on it works very well! find the app etc.. on: http://wexfordharbour.com/?page_id=8

Average Rating: ****

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