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Schull Harbour (Skull)

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Overview





Located on Ireland’s southwest coast Schull Harbour is situated at the head of Long Island Bay in a south-facing bight of the shoreline that leads out to Mizen Head. The harbour offers an anchorage with sturdy moorings, and the possibility to come alongside the busy pier or raft up to a fishing boat for a short period.

Located on Ireland’s southwest coast Schull Harbour is situated at the head of Long Island Bay in a south-facing bight of the shoreline that leads out to Mizen Head. The harbour offers an anchorage with sturdy moorings, and the possibility to come alongside the busy pier or raft up to a fishing boat for a short period.

Although somewhat open to the south Schull Harbour gains a large degree of southerly protection from Long Island and in most reasonable conditions offers good shelter. However it can be uncomfortable if a strong swell is running into the bay, and with a southerly or southeasterly gale, it is untenable. But Long Island immediately outside the entrance provides protection from these quarters and it is more comfortable than Crookhaven in easterly and westerly winds. The open harbour has straightforward access as, except for one well-marked rock on the principal approach, that lies about midway between the points of entrance, it is largely free from danger. Supported by markers and night lights it can be entered night or day and at any state of the tide.



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Keyfacts for Schull Harbour (Skull)
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableLaundry facilities 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 locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableChandlery available in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus service 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 landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

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



Last modified
July 31st 2021

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableLaundry facilities 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 locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableChandlery available in the areaHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesScuba diving cylinder refill capabilitiesBus service 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 landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 31.484' N, 009° 32.520' W

Shull harbour pierhead.

What is the initial fix?

The following Schull initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 29.947' N, 009° 31.682' W
This is 300 metres west of the Amelia Rock Marker and on the harbour’s 346° T in-line leading through the entrance. The anchoring area in Schull Harbour is a mile and a half from here.


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.

  • Lighted leading marks lead in between Amelia Rock Starboard Buoy and Long Island Point, with a white conical tower, on 346° T.

  • This leads in past the preferred eastern side of Bull Rock and onto the head of the bay which is clear.

  • Be watchful for a rock in the vicinity of the moorings.


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 Schull Harbour (Skull) for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Colla Harbour - 0.8 miles SSW
  2. Long Island - 1 miles SSW
  3. Coney Island - 1 miles SW
  4. Castle Island (North Side) - 1.1 miles ESE
  5. Trawnwaud (Castle Island Sound) - 1.1 miles E
  6. Castle Island (South Side) - 1.2 miles ESE
  7. Croagh Bay (Long Island Sound) - 1.3 miles SW
  8. Horse Island - 1.6 miles E
  9. Rossbrin Cove - 1.7 miles E
  10. White Strand - 2 miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Colla Harbour - 0.8 miles SSW
  2. Long Island - 1 miles SSW
  3. Coney Island - 1 miles SW
  4. Castle Island (North Side) - 1.1 miles ESE
  5. Trawnwaud (Castle Island Sound) - 1.1 miles E
  6. Castle Island (South Side) - 1.2 miles ESE
  7. Croagh Bay (Long Island Sound) - 1.3 miles SW
  8. Horse Island - 1.6 miles E
  9. Rossbrin Cove - 1.7 miles E
  10. White Strand - 2 miles SE
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Chart
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What's the story here?
Schull Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Schull, pronounced Skull, Harbour lies ½ a mile within the eastern point of Long Island and at the foot of the area's highest peak, the 404 metres high Mount Gabriel. It is a small fishing port and village set at the northwest side and at the head of a bight that extends about 1 mile into the northern shore. Entered between Coosheen Point and Skull Point, a ½ mile west by southwest, it has a sheltered harbour that provides ample anchoring opportunities with the option of picking up visitor moorings. It is a very popular location with recreational boaters and is home to a sailing school.


Schull Pier in the northwest corner of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Visiting boats may anchor in 3 metres 200 metres southeast of the pier where excellent holding will be found. There are 12 visitor moorings available in the northeast corner of the harbour and below the modern holiday village. Berthing fees should be paid to Schull Watersports at the foot of the pier. Land at the dinghy pontoon on the pier, which can get congested during the season, or at the sailing club slipway. The pier is usually occupied by the harbour's busy fishing fleet and the Clear Island tourist boat. However, a temporary berth may come available by arrangement.


How to get in?
Schull and Long Island Bay as seen from Mount Gabriel
Image: Gerard Lovett via CC BY 2.0


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for seaward approaches. The location of Schull Harbour is made conspicuous by Mount Gabriel. It rises about 12 miles to the northeast of Mizen Head and is not only the highest ground but it is made unmistakable by its pair of conspicuous radar domes near the summit. Mount Gabriel makes Schull's location readily identifiable throughout the bay area.


Mount Gabriel with its Radar domes and the Bull Rock marker
Image: Burke Corbett


Vessels intending to use Long Island Channel, on the north side of the island, between Long Island and the mainland, should use the approaches described for the Long Island Click to view haven entry or the area overview provided in the above coastal descriptions.

South Western Approach Vessels approaching from the southwest that intend to enter Schull by the eastern channel, between Long Island and Castle Island, should range 500 metres out along the southern side of Long Island. The island is 2 miles long and about 500 yards wide. It rises near the middle to a modest 29 metres from where it declines to the low shelving point at its northeastern end. This is called Copper Point where a light is shown from a white 14 metre high round tower. The outer shores of Long Island are generally clear to the distance of 90 metres, except near the eastern end, within 0.8 miles of Copper Point, where the always visible Carrigeenwaun Rocks extend off 200 metres.

Once the initial fix is approached by the Amelia Rock starboard hand light-buoy that marks the rocks to the west of Castle Island, or at the northeast end of Long Island, it is safe to haul up towards the channel between Long and Castle Islands.


Copper Point seen through the entrance with Calf Island West in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south will find the Mount Gabriel Radar Domes in alignment with Copper Point on a bearing of 355° T that clears Calf Island West.

For other approaches through the reefs and islands of Long Island Bay, careful use of charts and pilots is advised. Many of the bay’s dangers make their presence known by breakers, especially at low water, and in good weather the pilotage is interesting.


The white 14 metre high round tower Copper Point as seen from the north
Image: Burke Corbett


Initial fix location The Schull Initial Fix is set 300 metres to the west of Amelia Rock marker and on the Schull Harbour leading lights.

Amelia Rock - G Lt buoy Fl. G. 3s position: 51° 29.979’N 009° 31.461’W

The transits, with leading lights Oc 5s, are at the head of Schull Harbour. They consist of a front 5 metre high and rear 8-metre high white mast positioned 91 metres apart. They are however difficult to distinguish by day.

Front Leading light - Oc 5s 5m 11M; 51°31.693’N, 009° 32.410’W

Once located proceed in on 346° T for the entrance a third to the east of Long Island, between it and the Castle Island, called Castle Island Grounds. Long Island’s Copper Point will be conspicuous with a light showing from a white 14 metre high round tower.

Copper Point - Lighthouse Q(3)10s 16m 8M position 51° 30.250’N 009° 32.063’W


The central Bull Rock Beacon as seen from the west side with Coosheen Point in
the backdrop

Image: Michael Harpur


At the convergence point of Long Island and Castle Island Channels, some protection is provided to the entrance to Schull Harbour. The harbour is entered between Coosheen Point and Skull Point, about a ½ mile apart, that is divided in half by the Bull Rock.

Bull Rock Beacon
Image: Graham Rabbits
The Bull Rock covers at half-tide when its position is pointed out by a port hand light beacon. The rock runs off to the north by northeast for about 100 metres.

Bull Rock – iron beacon Fl (2) R 6s position: 51° 30.758’N 009° 32.205’W

Bull Rock may be passed on either side. The preferred approach is the 200 metres wide channel on the eastern side, between Bull Rock and the rocky ledges that extend nearly 150 to 200 metres from Coosheen Point. A berth of at least 200 metres off the Coosheen Point side is recommended. Those electing to enter on the west side of Bull Rock should make note of Baker Rock that is situated 300 metres north of Schull Point with 0.1 metres LAT over it and awash at low water. After this danger the western shore of the harbour is clear.


Yacht passing to the east of the Bull Rock Beacon
Image: Michael Harpur


Once within the harbour, depths decline from 10 metres at the entrance to 3 metres at the head of the harbour. The village of Schull is situated on the western side near the head of the harbour. A conspicuous disused chimney stands on a hill on the east side of the harbour. A small pier will be seen off the village at the northwest corner of the bay, usually lit by street lights all night, with a depth of 1.5 metres alongside the seaward end.


Approaching the pier in the northwest corner of the bay
Image: Burke Corbett


Haven location Visiting boats may anchor in 3 metres 200 metres southeast of the pier. Anchoring vessels should not impede the approach channel south-southeast of the pier.


Schull Pier and the west side of the bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Good holding can be found in sand and mud but it can be subject to kelp. As such it is advisable that the anchor should be well dug in with the engine. All anchored and moored vessels should carry a light throughout the night as the harbour is busy with plenty of vessels coming and going. The fairway is marked by 8 unlit lateral buoys during the sailing season.


Visitor moorings north eastward of the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


There are 12 visitor moorings available in the northeast corner of the harbour, below the modern holiday village. Berthing fees should be paid to Schull Watersports at the foot of the pier.

Schull moorings – position: 51° 31.500’N 009° 32.300’W.

The moorings are rated to 15 tons and are large, coloured bright yellow and labelled VISITOR.
Please note

Be careful when circling about this area. There is an unmarked rock with 0.5 metres over it close to the visitors´ buoys about 300 metres southeast of the front leading beacon. The very large buoys east of the pier are for fishing vessels only and should not be used by leisure craft.




The dinghy pontoon on the pier can get congested during the season
Image: Burke Corbett


Land at the dinghy pontoon on the pier, which can get congested during the season, or at the sailing club slipway. An alternative is a new slip, belonging to the active Fastnet Marine Education Centre, 600 metres south of the pier. A footpath leads along the shore to the town from here.
Please note

As this slip is used extensively it is important not to leave a tender on the slip.



The slip at Schull is in constant use so it is important not to leave a tender
here

Image: Michael Harpur


The pier is usually occupied by the harbours busy fishing fleet. On occasions, it may be possible to come alongside for short periods. The head and north side of the pier is used by fishing boats whilst the south side is utilised by the Clear Island tourist boat. If an opportunity arises come alongside at the north of the fishing boat side.


Why visit here?
Schull, pronounced and sometimes spelt Skull, is said to derive its name from the Irish An Scoil, the Irish word for 'school' or alternatively a shortening of Scoil Mhuire meaning 'Our Lady's School'. The first recorded place name for the area was the name scol, meaning scoil, in a Decretal Letter of Pope Innocent III in 1199 to the bishop of Cork. He was confirming the rights of the bishop of Cork against the Norman overlords as the See of Cork had been vacant for several years.


Altar Wedge Tomb gallery grave located outside the village of Schull
Image: Superbass via CC ASA 4.0


It is believed that a medieval monastic school must have existed here and it was this that the name 'school' was derived from. However, this is odd, as to this day no trace nor record has been found of a monastic settlement here. Church properties were well recorded so it is unlikely that a religious site of any standing in Schull could have escaped record. As such, an alternate belief is that Schull takes its name from the Irish word scumhal which means 'a precipice' or an 'abrupt opening in the coastline'. This would perfectly describe the bight in the Mizzen Peninsula that is the harbour and when scumhal is spoken it sounds the same as scoil.


Schull in Victorian times when it was connected to mainline rail
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


Whatever the case both Skull and Skul went on to be used in the Down Survey of 1656–58 and Skull is also used in the 1790s Grand Jury Map surveyed published 1811. As late as 1912, the two spellings of Schull and Skull were in common use. Cork County Council however supported the name Schull in all official documents and road signs and it is Schull that is now starting to dominate.


Schull is a mecca for yachtsmen
Image: Ludovic Péron via CC BY-SA 2.0


The area’s history dates back to Neolithic times as is witnessed by the ten or so wedge tombs on the Mizen Peninsula, including those at Altar and Toormore, that indicate extensive second-millennium inhabitation. Schull itself was a centre for bronze and copper mining that was amongst the earliest copper mining undertaken in western Europe. The metals were extracted from the southeast slopes of Mount Gabriel by using intense heat to weaken the rock face and discharge the ore. This was then hammered into shape with stone mauls. The mineralized rock extracted from the mines was crushed nearby and the ore removed to be smelted somewhere else. The location of Mount Gabriel smelting sites are unknown today but may have been on the mountain or near the coast.



The fishing village has been taken over by boaters and creatives
Image: Graham Rabbits


Today there are the remains of over 30 individual copper mines can be found hidden amongst the bracken to the west of the Barnacleeve Gap road. These were driven into the sedimentary, old red sandstone, copper beds invaded by quartz veins. They date from between 1700 and 1500 BC. Down through the centuries, tens of thousands of mauls or hammers were probably used on the mountain and as they are easily broken, large quantities of fragments of these hammers have been recovered. Fragments of wooden tools were also recovered, predominantly of oak, hazel and alder, and were identified as picks, wedges, axe hafts, withies (used as binding) on stone axes, shovels and planks. Significant quantities of charcoal have been found both inside the workings and on the spoil heaps close to the entrances. Copper mining continued into the 19th-century on the east side of the harbour, as well as on Horse Island, and to the northeast of Rossbrin. The ore was then exported to Swansea.


Schull is set into an area of outstanding natural beauty
Image: Emma Cooney


Today Schull has the largest village on the peninsula. The remote picturesque fishing town, set in the centre of an area of outstanding natural beauty, is thought to be one of the loveliest in West Cork. It is a highly regarded tourist destination that comes to life during the summer months when a large number of tourists and yachtsmen visit. Then it becomes a buzzing hive of craft shops, art galleries, boutiques where an afternoon can be easily disposed of by pottering around its streets. There are, needless to say, many pubs and bars that provide a variety of music, and several fine restaurants for that all-important good meal.


Jagoe's Cafe, Schull is a town where interesting provisions may be found
Image: © Tourism Ireland


In addition to this Schull bustles with summer festivals and every Sunday, there is the Schull market. Once the Sunday Mass bell tolls the market is suddenly swamped with a wide variety of traders, locals and tourists alike. This market is a real Sunday treat where local crafts, fresh local produce, hot food, breads, organic veg, cakes and all sorts of wonderful provisions can be had in abundance. The area is particularly notable for a number of local cheese making farms. So if you like chess and want to stock up, prepare to plan the visit around the Sunday market.


Schull pub
Image: Andy Howell via CC BY 3.0


The town also provides a wealth of activities to enjoy such as a variety of water sports, pony trekking and other outdoor activities. Ireland’s only Planetarium is at the Goleen end of the village with Star Shows throughout the summer. The wonderful surrounding countryside is a joy to walk through, with plenty of wildlife flora and fauna and archaeology to explore. A short 2km walk along the foreshore path from the pier provides views out over Roaringwater Bay and the nearby islands. The remains of the Bronze Age and 19th-century copper mine shafts and chimneys are a 13km return trip up Mount Gabriel.

Schull is home to an active sailing club
Image: Burke Corbett


Most of all Schull is a centre for a wide variety of waterborne activities such as windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving, and sea angling trips by boats operating off the pier. There is a thriving local diving club that welcomes visiting divers, plus canoeing with boats available for rent, and tuition can be supplied if required.


Schull is the perfect gateway to explore Roaringwater and Long Island Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Central to all of this is its very active sailing club and visiting yachtsmen are invited to take part in their organised events including the Schull Regatta. It is now the high point of a week's racing, colloquially known as 'Calves Week', that is recognised as a major event in the Irish racing calendar. This is held during the week following the August Bank Holiday weekend. Another annual event that is held during the second week of July is 'The Fastnet International Schools Regatta'. Attracting young sailors from all over Europe and beyond, it holds an excellent reputation within the international sailing community.


Yachts moored in Schull Harbour
Image: Francesco Crippa via CC BY-SA 2.0


From a boating point of view, Schull is truly a lovely spot with much to offer the visiting yachtsmen. The harbour provides an excellent anchorage in a scenic setting and it is free from danger except for a well-marked rock at the entrance. It should be considered one of the 'must visits' on the southwest corner of Ireland and the perfect base to explore the many havens of Roaringwater Bay and Long Island Bay.


What facilities are available?
Facilities include water from a tap at the foot of the pier, chandlery, laundry and ice. Rubbish may be disposed of at the sailing centre. Showers are available at one of the hotels by arrangement with the Harbour Master who will also help with diesel and petrol requirements - via cans from five miles distant Ballydehob. Gas can be obtained from the town, and Wi-Fi coverage is available in the harbour area. There is a slip that dries at LWS and a place to land for tenders sail repairs. A boatyard with storage, slips, and boat launching facilities, caters for repairs and maintenance work. There is also a very active Sailing Club in the harbour. Most of the shoreside resources can be discovered on Schull's website.

Schull village, situated on the west side near the head of the harbour, offers visiting yachtsmen many facilities, with a variety of shops. These include two small supermarkets, a launderette, grocers, butchers, bakers, delicatessen/coffee shops, internet cafe, pharmacy and an excellent book shop plus local craft shops. There is also a Bank, ATM machine and a Post Office. There is a very large number of eating and drinking establishments in Schull with a wide range of price and food options. Taxi services are available in the area, and the route 237 bus service calls three times a day serving Cork-Clonakilty-Skibbereen-Schull’ (a distance of approximately 100km). Throughout the summer daily ferry trips leave the harbour pier taking visitors on trips to Sherkin Island, Cape Clear, Fastnet Rock and several smaller islands in the bay.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Schull Harbour.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Photography with thanks to Mike Searle, Richard Webb, Francesco Crippa, Martin Southwood, Burke Corbett, Andrew Wood, Dr Bryan Lynch and Emma Cooney.







An aerial overview of Schull Harbour



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