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Crookhaven

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Overview





Crookhaven Harbour is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland five miles east-northeast from Mizen Head on the south side of the peninsula. The natural harbour provides a host of anchoring opportunities, convenient secure moorings close to its small village and pier which has a seasonal landing pontoon for tenders.

Crookhaven offers good all-round protection although it can be uncomfortable in developed easterlies. It is also somewhat exposed to very strong westerly winds as although there is no seaway on the western side of the bay, it is low and affords very little wind protection. With a sectored lighthouse at its entrance and its deep clear waters, the harbour provides safe access to all visiting vessels, at all states of the tide, in all reasonable conditions, night or day.



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Keyfacts for Crookhaven
Facilities
Water available via tapShop with basic provisions availableShowers 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 locationPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableMarine engineering services available 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 landingQuick 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
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
4 metres (13.12 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
March 6th 2020

Summary

A good location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapShop with basic provisions availableShowers 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 locationPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableMarine engineering services available 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 landingQuick 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
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 28.147' N, 009° 43.566' W

Crookhaven harbour pierhead.

What is the initial fix?

The following Crookhaven initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 28.599' N, 009° 41.440' W
This waypoint is 300 metres north of Black Horse rocks. It is situated in the centre of the entrance in the white sector of the lighthouse on Sheemon Point.


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.

  • The entrance is unhindered, almost a ¼ of a mile wide, steep-to on both side, has lit marks on either side and a sectored light and, as such is very straightforward.

  • Keep well clear of Alderman and Black Horse rocks and favour the northern shore on entry so as not to be drawn by a tidal set through Alderman Sound.


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 Crookhaven for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Goleen - 1.1 miles NNE
  2. Carrigmore Bay - 2.3 miles NE
  3. Toormore Cove - 2.5 miles NE
  4. Dunmanus Harbour - 3.1 miles NNE
  5. Ballynatra - 3.4 miles NNW
  6. Croagh Bay (Long Island Sound) - 3.5 miles ENE
  7. Dooneen Pier - 3.5 miles N
  8. Coney Island - 3.9 miles ENE
  9. Kilcrohane Pier - 4 miles N
  10. Colla Harbour - 4.1 miles ENE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Goleen - 1.1 miles NNE
  2. Carrigmore Bay - 2.3 miles NE
  3. Toormore Cove - 2.5 miles NE
  4. Dunmanus Harbour - 3.1 miles NNE
  5. Ballynatra - 3.4 miles NNW
  6. Croagh Bay (Long Island Sound) - 3.5 miles ENE
  7. Dooneen Pier - 3.5 miles N
  8. Coney Island - 3.9 miles ENE
  9. Kilcrohane Pier - 4 miles N
  10. Colla Harbour - 4.1 miles ENE
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?
The long protected inlet of Crookhaven Harbour
Image: With thanks to ©Paul Scally


Crookhaven Harbour is set into a deep protected inlet on the most southwestern tip of the island of Ireland. It has its entrance between Sheemon Point and Black Horse Rocks which are both lit and the former has a lighthouse. The long hooked peninsula encloses an excellent natural harbour that is two miles long, a third of a mile wide and has an eastward facing entrance with unhindered deep water access.


The view southwestward down through the Crookhaven inlet
Image: iancairns01 External link


A small village stands on the south side of the harbour nearly a mile within the entrance. The harbour was once an important fishing port but this has diminished in recent years and it is popular with leisure craft. The deep inlet provides ample visitor mooring and a very good anchorage with good protection and holding.

Crookhaven Village on the south side of the inlet
Image: Jacline via CC BY-NC 2.0



How to get in?
Crookhaven Lighthouse
Image: SYGAL 93 via CC BY-SA 2.0


Convergance Point Use western Ireland’s coastal overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for approaches. Crookhaven Harbour is entered between Streek Head, about 3 miles northeastward of Brow Head, and Sheemon Point, the eastern extremity of Rock Island located about ½ a mile northward. Both points of the entrance show a light.

Sheemon Point is steep-to, clear of dangers and has a lighthouse. Crookhaven Lighthouse is situated close southwest on Rock Island Point, immediately outside the harbour's northern entrance.

Crookhaven - Lighthouse Fl WR 8s 20m 13/11M position: 51° 28.593’N, 009° 42.273’W

The lighthouse is a clearly identifiable 14-metre high round cylindrical masonry tower painted white and surrounded by a white wall. Its light shows red or white depending on direction; white over Long Island Bay; W131°-281° (150°), R281°-340° (59°), R281°-348° (67°), W348°-111° (123°).


Streek Head seen over the Alderman Rocks
Image: Graham Rabbits


Streek Head, opposite, is also conspicuous, rising steeply from the sea to an elevation of 44 metres. Several detached rocks lie on its southern side. Part of these, Gokane Rock, dries to 6 metres and the area should not be approached within a distance of 200 metres.


Blackhorse Rocks and north cardinal beacon
Image: Graham Rabbits


Extending about half a mile to the east of Streek Head are the Alderman Rocks and the Black Horse Rocks. The Alderman Rocks rise up to 9.1 metres above high water and are foul out to the Black Horse Rocks. These rocks extend about 135 metres north from Alderman Rocks and are marked by the Blackhorse Rocks beacon.

Blackhorse Rocks - north cardinal beacon Q FL position: 51°28.437'N, 009°41.683'W

It is advisable to keep a distance of 200 metres when rounding the Alderman and Black Horse rocks.


Alderman Sound laying between Streek Head and Alderman Rocks
Image: With thanks to Paul Scally ©


Between the Streek Head and Alderman Rocks is the Alderman Sound. The narrow channel has up to 5.8 metres of water and is constricted by the dangers on both sides. It offers a cut but not advisable for newcomers as it is narrowed by rocks extending from both sides and has a tidal set. As such Alderman Sound is a thing for the very adventurous in good conditions and with the benefit of local knowledge aboard.


Yachts proceeding in Crookhaven's fairway
Image: With thanks to Paul Scally ©


Initial fix location From the initial fix the approach is unhindered and the harbour entrance is almost a ¼ of a mile wide, steep-to and very straightforward. Favour the northern shore on entry so as not to be drawn by a tidal set through Alderman Sound. Then take a mid-channel route up the harbour. Once in the main channel, both shores are steep-to.

View up the fairway from the west end of Rock Island
Image: Graham Rabbits


At night the white sector, less than 281° T of Crookhaven Light leads to the harbour entrance passing 150 metres north of the Black Horse Rocks beacon. Do not be tempted to steer for the Crookhaven Light House until the red sector covering Alderman Rocks turns to white.

In the middle of the narrowest part of the inlet, just off the southwest corner of Rock Island, keep an eye out for an uncharted small and unlit racing buoy.
Please note

Crookhaven has a highly active sailing school. During school holidays a vessel can expect to encounter shoals of children cutting across the haven in small dinghies.




Crookhaven Village
Image: iancairns01 External link



Haven location The bay has a host of seasonal visitor moorings that lay midchannel off the village of Crookhaven.


Moorings off the village
Image: oli xilo via CC BY-SA 2.0


The moorings are rated to 15 tons and are large, coloured bright yellow and labelled VISITOR. A daily charge of €15 may be levied.

Crookhaven moorings - position 51° 28.200’N 009° 43.500’W.

Anchor abreast of Crookhaven village outside the moorings in the middle of the bay in 3 metes or according to conditions. Holding throughout is excellent in sand and mud, except in kelp patches.


The anchoring area to the north of the western extremity of Rock Island
Image: With thanks to Paul Scally ©


Protection from all conditions can be found in the central area except for strong easterlies when it can become uncomfortable. During these conditions, some protection may be acquired by anchoring to the north of the western extremity of Rock Island. Failing this there are several excellent alternatives to protect from this quarter close by.

Crookhaven has is little in the way of westerly airdraft protection and during boisterous westerlies, some respite might be had by tucking-in to the lee of Granny Island that lays off the north shore. Standoff the south side of Granny Island as Row Rock, that dries 0.3 metres, lies close south of the islet.


A small seasonal pontoon is provided for landings
Image: iancairns01 External link


A seasonal dinghy pontoon is available for landing plus a small 15-metre temporary pontoon outside O'Sullivan's Public House that has steps.

The southwest end of the bay shoals after Granny Isle
Image: oli xilo via CC BY-SA 2.0


The bay starts shoaling gradually to its head becoming shallow from Granny Island onwards.


Why visit here?
Crookhaven, in Irish An Cruachán, derives its name, from Sir Thomas Crooke who founded the village in 1610, along with Baltimore, as a Protestant fishing village. The Crooke family were granted large estates in West Cork but the family association with the area ended around 1665.


Crookhaven as seen from Brow Hill
Image: With thanks to Paul Scally ©


Of course, the area had however been long since inhabited before this. Numerous Bronze Age field monuments can be found in the hills around Crookhaven and these are well marked on the Ordnance Survey Discovery Series map 88. Indeed many relics of the past are worth exploring here in this remarkably beautiful setting.


Brow Head
Image: Burke Corbett


Mizen Head is often claimed to be the most southerly point on the island of Ireland, but this is inaccurate as it is, in fact, the country's most southwesterly point. The distinction of being Ireland's most southerly point belongs to Brow Head that is little more than a 1.5 km ascent from the landing beach at the head of the harbour. The views from Brow Head to the east over Roaringwater Bay, and to the south over Cape Clear and some of Carbery’s Hundred Isles, and also out to Mizen Head over jagged rocks below, are utterly breathtaking.


HMS Thunderer in a storm off Crookhaven as illustrated in 1812
Image: Public Domain


The signal tower found at its crest was constructed in 1804 during the Napoleonic wars and was part of the 81-chain of signal towers used as a means to pass messages quickly along the coast as each one was in the sightline of the next. The other nearby towers include those Bear Island, Cape Clear Island, Baltimore and so on along the coast of Ireland. The original signalling was carried out by a system of flags and blackballs on masts. The system worked well if there wasn't a low mist, which is often the case in the Cork area. Below the signal tower, towards the Head itself, are the remains of a 19th-century Cornish mining village. The site shows signs of mining activity, including mine shafts, miner's houses, a reservoir and a small hamlet.


Old military watchtower has a commanding view over the harbour
Image: With thanks to Paul Scally ©


Overlooking the harbour are two further tall towers. These are part of an earlier series built by the British Military in the late 1700s as lookout towers. These were adopted for commercial purposes during Crookhaven's seminal years.


Saint Brendan's Church, restored in the 19th century, equally commanding view of the harbour
Image: iancairns01 External link


This was in the late 19th and early part of the 20th-century when Crookhaven was an important shipping port of call between Europe and the United States. It was was the last/first safe port for ships crossing the North Atlantic and boats sheltered here or stocked up with provisions after/before the long Atlantic crossing. As the boats anchored in or out of the harbour, depending on their size, a flurry of small boats or lighters would swarm out striving to be the first there to get their business. Pilots travelled from ports in the United Kingdom to vie for the job of piloting the American ships from Crookhaven to ports such as Liverpool, Bristol and London. At that time, it was so busy that it was said to be possible to walk across the harbour stepping from deck to deck of the boats. All shipping lines had agents here to direct cargo deliveries. 700 residents, compared to a permanent population of 50 today, made a living from shipping activities during this period.


Crookhaven's historic quays that once bustled with activity
Image: oli xilo via CC BY-SA 2.0


During this period The 'Telegraph Dispatch', based in Cork, carried reporters out to ships arriving from America, and they then took the train back to Cork to file their stories. Reuters opened a telegraphic agency in London in 1851, and in Queenstown (Cobh) in 1853. They then got a four-hour head-start by putting a telegraph station in Crookhaven and connecting a telegraph line to Cork. Piqued by being technically outclassed 'The Cork Examiner' denounced Reuter in 1863 as 'a clever foreign speculator' who wanted to monopolise the foreign news. But Reuters only followed by partnering with Lloyd’s to build a signal station at Brow Head. From this station, they then began to communicate with passing ships during the day via semaphore and by lights at night. It was this unlikely station that went on to play a part in one of the world’s greatest global communications breakthroughs.


Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station 1902
Image: Public Domain


The Italian entrepreneur Guglielmo Marconi came to Crookhaven, from 1901 until 1914, to experiment and develop wireless communication ostensibly for 'ship to shore' communication. Most of his work was done between the Fastnet lighthouse, Crookhaven, and Cape Clear Island because they were so closely connected. They provided ideal targets because a telegraph line had been connected between Crookhaven and Cape Clear Island. Secretly, of course, he was attempting to get the first radio message across the Atlantic and this was the obvious point for him to try. Encouraged by his earlier success between Poldhu, Cornwall and St. Catherine's, Isle Of Wight, Marconi hoped to capture the signals from Poldhu in Crookhaven, 225 miles away and then get a signal across the Atlantic.


Fastnet Rock where the first experiments took place
Image: Burke Corbett


The Fastnet Rock trans-Atlantic bids proved unsuccessful and he brought the Brow Head signal station in 1901 and moved the equipment in. Here he had his major breakthrough with telegraphic messages being transmitted and received from Poldhu. With the concept now proven, Marconi left Crookhaven on the 1st November 1901 and returned to Poldhu. On 12 December 1901, a message was, although faint, successfully transmitted from Poldhu to St. John’s, Newfoundland. It was the most important success of his career and he returned immediately to boost the power of the stations. The world was at first very sceptical about his tenuous communication but all doubt evaporated in 1902 when Marconi and his team took their apparatuses aboard SS Philadellphia in Southampton and sailed to New York receiving signals from Poldlin in the course of the voyage. By the end of the year, Marconi had established a receiving station in Glace Bay, Nov Scotia and had launched a regular transatlantic service.


Poldhu Station
Image: Public Domain
Riding on a wave of success Marconi set up a number of stations for ship-to-shore communication on the South English and Irish coasts. Two more in Ireland, one at Malin Head, Co. Donegal, and one Rosslare, Co. Wexford, but Crookhaven remained the most important of the Irish stations. The range at first was 300 miles, and a telephone link connected the remote station with Cork City. Initially, not too many ships had the required equipment to make use of the facility, but this changed soon. By reason of its geographical location, Crookhaven remained the first station with which the homeward-bound American liners communicated and the station was busily employed, night and day, in sending and receiving messages.


Guglielmo Marconi with his equipment in 1901
Image: Public Domain


Marconi continued his work in Crookhaven up to 1914 when he sold the rights to the station to the Royal Navy. The Crookhaven station's technology had by then relatively limited range and, by 1907, Marconi had established a much larger station at Clifden with ancillary stations at Letterfrack and Ballybunion set up in 1912. It was at the latter, in 1919, that the first east to west transatlantic telephone transmission took place. The Royal Navy then continued to man the station day and night 365 days of the year, in three shifts, by two operators until the Irish Civil War.


The remains of the signal tower today
Image: Jane White via CC BY-SA 2.0


Marconi would in his time set up eight radio transmission stations in Ireland and, although he never lived in Ireland, he was here during the construction and operation of all the stations. He also had a deep connection with Ireland with his first wife, of 19 years, being Irish. Who knows how many, lives have been saved through the radio contact first established in Crookhaven. The number must be enormous, most notably the Titanic would not have had any survivors save for this nascent advance in technology.


Crookhaven's now quiet fishing quay
Image: iancairns01 External link


Rock Island has an interesting history of its own as it was the shore station for the assembly of the second granite Fastnet lighthouse. Many of the island's buildings here were constructed for this purpose including an office, stores, carpenters’ and blacksmiths’ shops, a barrack for the workmen, and two keepers’ dwellings. The tower was actually built and erected in sections in Cornwall then dismantled and transported to Rock Island. Here they were rigorously checked and then transported to the Fastnet Rock.

Today Crookhaven is a mecca for boaters
Image: Graham Rabbits
The beautiful building on the islands southwest corner was the site of a coastguard station that replaced an earlier station to its south. Opened in 1907 the new station had a very short tenure before the War of Independence. In 1921 British Marines were stationed here to protect it, and the key Brow Head War Signal Station. Despite this, the I.R.A. destroyed the signal station in 1922.

In the 1920s Rock Island was the home of a fishery plant that was developed by a Frenchman to supply his home market. The ponds remained open until the late 1970s when it became a food processing plant packaging garlic butter and mussels. It is now derelict and the broken remains of the lobster farm’s sea-water pens can be found today by those wishing to explore. All the buildings on Rock Island are now private residences, and the public road leading along it provides a good view across to Black Horse Rocks and onward out to Goleen.


Barley Cove Beach over the sand dunes on the Atlantic shore
Image: Public Domain


Today the town is driven by the seasonal holiday-home tourist influx when its winter population of about fifty swells tenfold. Though it may feel overcrowded at peak season the food available in Crookhaven is exceptional and the local businesses handle the influx with relaxed and assured confidence.


Crookhaven provides the cruising sailor with a wonderfully protected berth
Image: Burke Corbett


From a boating perspective, the picturesque and sheltered harbour of Crookhaven is just as important for the sailing community today as it was for the sailing ships of the past. Situated five miles to the east of Mizen Head, and six miles north-by-west from the Fastnet, two of the most prominent landmarks in the area, it offers a good, safe and convenient stop with spectacular surroundings and plenty of good company. As the last harbour south of Mizen Head it is an ideal place to wait out the weather or tide to round Mizen Head or to prepare for cruising Long Island Bay to the southeast.


What facilities are available?
Crookhaven village stands on the south side of the harbour, approximately one mile from the entrance. The village has two small piers, both with water taps, and has a post office, restaurants, shops with limited groceries, and three good pubs that also offer excellent food. A friendly sailing club offers showers. Diesel is available by jerry can from O'Sullivan's pub, and WiFi is free to vessels utilising the moorings. Despite a permanent population of less than 50, Crookhaven is geared up to meet the needs of boating visitors and tourists alike and most requirements will be taken care of here.

The village is located in south-west Ireland, 132 kilometres (82 mi) from Cork and 383 kilometres (238 mi) from Dublin. The nearest airport to Crookhaven is Cork Airport, and the closest regional road is the R591. A community bus operates from Crookhaven but Schull would present a better target for visitors planning to access inland transport links.


Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred to a vessel within Crookhaven.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.


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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 overview




A photo montage of the harbour and surrounding area




A vessel leaving Crookhaven under sail



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