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Howth is an artificial harbour on the east coast of Ireland that lies to the north of Dublin Bay on the far side of the Howth peninsula that juts out into the Irish Sea. The harbour is situated beneath the rocky island of Ireland’s Eye that lies close offshore. It is a centre for fishing and yachting that has excellent pleasure boat facilities and is very popular with sailing craft.

Howth affords complete protection. The harbour provides safe access in all reasonable conditions, night and day, at any stage of the tide. Special care should be taken when swell is running in the sound during east to southeast gales. Craft with very deep drafts should stay centre channel on the marina approach during low water springs.
Please note

The popularity of Howth's sailing events can often result in the club’s visitor berthing capabilities being overwhelmed. It is therefore advisable to get in touch with the club in the days preceding any planned visit.




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Keyfacts for Howth
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore 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 via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresCar hire 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 locationQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
February 6th 2019

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore 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 via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresCar hire 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 locationQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: harbour fees may be charged



 +353 1 8392777     HM  +353 1 8322252      marina@hyc.ie      Ch.M, 80
Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 23.647' N, 006° 4.012' W

Howth harbour east pier light tower. A 13 metre tall white and red beacon at the end of the harbour’s northernmost breakwater F1. (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12M.

What are the initial fixes?

The following waypoints will set up a final approach:

(i) Howth Buoy initial fix

53° 23.727' N, 006° 3.593' W

This waypoint sets up a final approach from the southeast (south around Irelands Eye). The Howth buoy is the first marker for the channel into Howth Sound starboard hand F1.G 5 sec. Please note if approaching from the north keep outside of Rowan Rocks east cardinal Q - (3) 10 sec.

(ii) Howth Sound fairway initial fix

53° 24.500' N, 006° 4.665' W

This leads through into Howth Sound and passed through the fairway on a line of bearing of 158° T that may be seen by aligning the Martello Tower, situated in the southeast corner of Howth harbours, aligned against the eastern side of the harbour entrance.
Please note

Initial fixes only set up their listed targets. Do not plan to sail directly between initial fixes as a routing sequence.




What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview from Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location. Details for vessels approaching from the south are available in eastern Ireland’s coastal overview from Dublin Bay to Rosslare Harbour 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 Howth for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Balscadden Bay - 0.3 miles SSE
  2. Carrigeen Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
  3. Malahide - 2.9 miles NW
  4. Talbot’s Bay - 3.5 miles NNE
  5. Seal Hole Bay - 3.8 miles NNE
  6. The Boat Harbour - 3.8 miles N
  7. Dublin Port (Poolbeg Marina) - 3.8 miles WSW
  8. Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 3.9 miles SSW
  9. Saltpan Bay - 3.9 miles NNE
  10. Rogerstown Inlet - 4.5 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Balscadden Bay - 0.3 miles SSE
  2. Carrigeen Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
  3. Malahide - 2.9 miles NW
  4. Talbot’s Bay - 3.5 miles NNE
  5. Seal Hole Bay - 3.8 miles NNE
  6. The Boat Harbour - 3.8 miles N
  7. Dublin Port (Poolbeg Marina) - 3.8 miles WSW
  8. Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 3.9 miles SSW
  9. Saltpan Bay - 3.9 miles NNE
  10. Rogerstown Inlet - 4.5 miles NNW
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?
Howth Harbour
Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via CC BY-SA 2.0


Howth Harbour is situated on the north shore of the Ben of Howth peninsula, nearly a mile to the northwest of the Nose of Howth. It is formed by two piers, east and west, that run out from the shore towards Ireland’s Eye a small island immediately offshore. It is predominantly a fishing port but is also a major small craft and yachting centre.

The problem with Howth is overcrowding and anyone planning to visit should contact the marina office in the days before any intended arrival. The Marina Office maintains a 24-hour listening watch on Ch M (37A) and Ch 80 P: +353 1 83292777, E: marina@hyc.ie


NORTHERN APPROACHES

Northern Approach Vessels approaching from the north, or indeed seaward from the east, will find offshore details available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview from Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location. On closer approaches, the conspicuous reef-fringed island of Ireland’s Eye will be seen immediately north of Howth Harbour. A prominent Martello Tower standing on the island’s northwest extremity makes for positive identification. The island rises abruptly on its north side to a height of 99 metres, and slopes down to its southern extreme. From the southern end shelving rocks, that cover at high water only, extend to the Thulla that is a small patch elevated 2 metres above high water. To the southwest of this, there are some rocky patches called the North Rowan, uncovering to a distance of 300 metres from the Thulla.

Howth Harbour may be accessed by passing around either side of Ireland’s Eye. The normal route is to pass around the island’s eastern side and approach the harbour around its southern end. The north and east sides of Ireland’s Eye are steep-too, with 8 and 12 metres water 100 metres out from the rocks. Those taking this approach should use the southern approach directions and the ‘Howth Buoy initial fix’.


Howth Sound
Image: John Kavanagh via CC BY-SA 2.0


Passing through Howth Sound which lies west of the island and east of the Baldoyle Spit extending from the mainland is a little more involved but nothing overly complex. The west of Ireland’s Eye is shallower with not more than 2.7 metres of water in the middle. At low water, Howth Sound is about half a mile wide with depths decreasing towards each side. But this should not present any difficulty for a leisure yacht.


Martello on Ireland's Eye with the head of the East Pier in the foreground
Image: Tourism Ireland


Those taking the inshore route should use the Howth Sound fairway initial fix. When closing on the fix identify ‘The Steer’ on the north-westernmost point of Ireland’s Eye, close north of the Martello tower.

Ireland’s Eye Martello tower - position: 53° 24.500 N, 6° 04.200W

Keep two hundred metres off the northwest corner of the island as although the island is steep-to there are a couple of off lying dangers on this corner. A rock dries to a height of two metres approximately one hundred metres northeast of ‘The Steer’ plus there is a sunken rock close to the west of ‘The Steer’.
Please note

Vessels drawing more than 1.8 metres should not use Howth Sound at low water after a strong easterly gale has developed a swell.



Initial fix location From Howth Sound fairway the initial fix follows a line of bearing 158°T through the fairway. This aligns the mainland Martello Tower, situated in the southeast corner of Howth Harbour, against the eastern side of the harbour entrance.


Howth Martello Tower
Image: William Murphy Martello via CC BY-SA 2.0


This transit may be difficult to see owing to the amount of building infrastructure in the harbour area. If the transit cannot be located keep ½ mile off the west side of Ireland’s Eye in about 2.5 metres LWS channel. Maintain a careful depth sounder watch to make certain the vessel is not coming inshore and proceed with caution. On closer approaches, the tower coming into line with the outer end of the pier will be more readily apparent.

On transit, it passes to the west of Carrigeen Rock, a rocky outcrop extending from the southwest side of Ireland's Eye, and to the west of South Rowan Light buoy.

South Rowan Buoy - Starboard Hand Q G position: 53° 23.790’N, 006° 03.941’W

The entrance is less than 400 metres from South Rowan Buoy.

Fishing boat entering from the north
Image: Brian Lennon



SOUTHERN APPROACHES

Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south will find details in eastern Ireland’s coastal overview from Dublin Bay to Rosslare Harbour Route location. The Ben Of Howth is the key mark rising abruptly on the north side of Dublin Bay and is the most prominent feature. The east side of the Ben of Howth is steep-to as is most of the headland around to the Nose of Howth. The exceptions are close in 400 to 1,200 metres north of the Bailey, and at Casana Rock situated 800 metres south of the Nose where a distance-off of 50 metres is recommended. Immediately northwest of the Nose there is a drying rock that lies about 50 metres outside Puck's Rocks.


Baily Lighthouse on the southeast corner of the Ben Of Howth
Image: Giuseppe Milo via CC BY-SA 2.0


A mile to the north-west of the nose is Howth Harbour that is easily distinguished by its east pier light tower. This is a 13 metre tall white and red beacon at the end of the harbour’s northernmost breakwater.

Howth East Pier - Fl (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12M position: 53° 23.647'N, 006° 4.012'W

The small island of Ireland’s Eye is situated close north of the harbour. A quarter of a mile southeast of Ireland’s Eye, or more appropriately Thulla the small 2 metres high outcrop, is the Rowan Rocks east cardinal buoy. Between this and Howth East Pier is the starboard hand Howth Buoy, F1.G 5, where the initial fix is positioned.

Howth Buoy - Starboard hand F1.G 5 sec position: 53° 23.727N, 6° 03.593W


Eastern approaches to Howth between the pier and the shoals extending from
Ireland’s Eye

Image: Superchilum via CC BY-SA 3.0 e


Initial fix location From Howth Sound fairway the initial fix harbour access is very clear-cut. Simply keep all buoys to starboard to pass south of the shoals extending from Ireland’s Eye and round the head of the new breakwater extension to port.

At night a Light House marking the north end of the new breakwater extension; beacon F1. (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12M provides a white sectored light that leads through the passage clear of Rowan Rocks.

South Rowan as seen over the breakwater extension
Image: Brian Lennon


On final approach do not turn into the harbour until it is well open and enter taking a central path, keeping an eye out for departing fishing vessels. The harbour entrance is 100 metres wide with a least charted depth of 3.7 metres and 3.4 metres in the harbour. In easterly gales, a heavy sea can be experienced outside the entrance, but once around the breakwater extension, a leisure vessel is well protected.



HARBOUR

The entrance to Howth Harbour
Image: Brian Lennon


Haven location Inside the entrance there are swinging moorings and two channels as the harbour is divided into two halves. To the south is the marked channel into the yacht club marina and to the west, between two lit bull nose marks, is the entrance to the trawler dock. The western fishing fleet is based in the western inner harbour, and the adjoining eastern and southern section of the harbour is the pleasure boat area.
Please note

Pleasure craft are not accommodated in the Trawler Basin and the Harbour Master controls movement and berthing within the harbour.



Lateral marks in the outer harbour leading into the marina
Image: Brian Lennon


The marina’s dredged channel is clearly marked with a series of port and starboard markers. It is important to keep between these as the harbour dries on either side at low water.

The marina and its approaches
Image: Brian Lennon


Depths of 2.6 metres are available in the marina area but deep draft vessels should stay in the middle of the entrance fairway at low water springs. Berth as directed in advance and upon arrival register at the Marina Office at the top of the Marina Bridge.
Please note

A speed limit of 4 knots is in force in the Harbour and Marina area.



Howth Marina
Image: Brian Lennon


Anchorages at Howth may be found immediately outside of the entrance to the west of the West Pier head.


Why visit here?
Howth, pronounced to rhyme with ‘both’, derives its name from the old Norse word of höfuth meaning ‘head’ or ‘headland’. Its name speaks of its peninsula nature, jutting out almost island-like into the Irish Sea, and a long Viking heritage. Its Irish name of Benn Étair predates this referring to the ancient Irish name for the Hill of Howth Benn Étair meaning "Éadar's peak".

The Vikings first invaded Howth in 819 and it was not long after that Howth was colonised as part of a chain of east coast bases, which included Dublin, to provide a strategic pathway from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. The 'Danish' occupation reign came to an end in 1014 when Brian Ború, the High King of Ireland, managed to unify the Irish regional leaders to overthrow the Vikings. Howth, however, was to be the last Viking holdout as many fled to regroup here after the defeat. Their power remained in force until a final defeat in Fingal in the middle of the 11th century and the area then came under the control of a localised Norse-Gaels leadership.

In 1169 the Anglo-Normans landed in Wexford and began to extend their conquest in earnest the following year. Without the support of either the Irish or Scandinavian powers, Howth was isolated and fell to the Normans in 1177. The winning Norman, Armoricus, or Almeric, Tristam took his prize of the lands between the village and Sutton. Thanking God for the victory Tristam took on the name St. Lawrence, the feast day of the saint on which his battle was won. Henry II of England bestowed the title of ‘Baron of Howth’ to Almeric St. Lawrence in 1181. He built his first castle near the harbour and the St. Lawrence link remains to this day.

By the 14th-century Howth had developed as a trading port which can be seen in the duty collections that officials supervised from Dublin. The substantial harbour we see today was commenced in 1807 to receive the packet boats, or postal service vessels, from England. It was completed in 1809 and with this investment, including the construction of Howth Road to Dublin that was built to ensure rapid transfer of incoming mail to the city, Howth started to take off. However, Howth’s period of importance was short lived.

The replacement of sailing packets with steam packets in 1819 reduced the transit time from Holyhead to seven hours and spelt the end of Howth. It was a shallow harbour with a rocky bottom that precluded any dredging. As larger ships were built, and in particular the introduction of steam packets, it became increasingly unsuitable. Worse as early as 1813 the harbour was already showing signs of silting up and needed to be frequently dredged to accommodate the packet. The ‘writing on the wall’ came for Howth in 1807 with the loss of the ‘Rochdale’ and ‘H.M. Packet ship Prince of Wales’ which created the catalyst for the creation of a safe deep water Dublin Bay harbour in the construction of Dún Laoghaire. Dún Laoghaire's construction commenced in 1817 and lasted until 1859 but by 1833 the packet service had already relocated to Dún Laoghaire. The Dún Laoghaire harbour advocate King George IV arrived at Howth in 1821 departing again from Dún Laoghaire after examining the work and giving the harbour the new name of Kingstown. His Howth visit was noted for how he weaved his way off the boat in an intoxicated state. The footprints at the point where he stepped ashore are recorded to this day on the West Pier.

Almost a century later, in July 1914, another extraordinary Englishman, with an equally remarkable wife, stepped over King George IV’s footsteps risking his life to set Ireland free from England and King George V. This was the keen sailor and ardent Republican Erskine Childers the author of the sailing favourite "The Riddle of the Sands". He arrived in Howth with his partially handicapped wife Mary "Molly" Alden Childers in his 28-ton yacht Asgard. Aboard was a cargo of 900, elderly but serviceable, Mauser Model 1871 rifles and 29,000 black powder cartridges to arm the nationalists. The Irish Volunteers unloaded the arms in daylight at the harbour, in front of a crowd. The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), aided by troops of the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers, tried unsuccessfully to confiscate the weapons. On their return to their barracks in Dublin, some troops baited by a hostile crowd killed three people and wounded 38. A fourth man died later. Nationalists interpreted the contrast between the inactivity of the police and military in Larne Click to view haven, that took place in the middle of an April night, and the heavy-handed response in the middle of the day in Dublin, that authorities were biased in favour of the UVF. The corresponding episodes heightened tensions in Ireland, pulling it closer to the brink of north-south civil war. Partition prevented the north-south war from occurring but brought instead a civil war within the Free State that would, in turn, embroil Erskine.

Eight years later, in 1922, a bitter twist of fate caused Erskine to be arrested by the nascent Free State forces for being in possession of a small semi-automatic pistol. At the height of the civil war, this was in violation of the Emergency Powers Resolution that banned firearms. Childers had vehemently opposed the Irish Treaty agreement, particularly the clauses that required Irish leaders to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British king and went against the agreement. Ironically the pistol had been a gift from Michael Collins, the leader of the pro-treaty Provisional Government, and had been given to him when the two men were close friends on the same side. Court-martialled by his former comrades he was sentenced to execution which was carried out by firing squad on November 24th. Before his execution, in a spirit of reconciliation, Childers shook hands with each of the firing squad. He also obtained a solemn promise from his then 16-year-old son, Erskine Hamilton Childers, to seek out and shake the hand of every man who had signed his father's death warrant. His last words to the firing squad, were characteristically in the nature of a joke: "Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way. "

The Asgard was acquired by the Irish government as a sail training vessel in 1961, stored on dry land in the yard of Kilmainham Gaol in 1979, and finally becoming a static exhibit at The National Museum of Ireland in 2012. His son Erskine Hamilton Childers became the fourth President of Ireland serving from 1973 until his death in 1974.


Howth's old western granit pierhead light
Image: Giuseppe Milo


Today Howth is a much less war-like suburb of Dublin, a busy fishing and yachting port, that has all the cafes, hotels, fish restaurants and public houses that one would expect of a popular suburban resort. Of particular interest here is the Howth Head peninsula for the more energetic. Coming up from the pier and taking the leftmost road from the harbour will lead to a signposted walking trail commencing to the east of the town. From here hikers can choose from a wide range of routes, including the Cliff Walk or make for the ancient cairn on one of Howth's several summits. The southern part of the cliff walk as a whole takes between 3 and 4 hours but it is well worth the walk as the views it presents are breath-taking. On clear days, the Wicklow Mountains can be seen, with Dublin city below. Along the way, walkers will come across Dublin's most visible lighthouse, the Bailey Lighthouse.


Baily Lighthouse terminating the southeast extremity of the Ben of Howth
peninsula

Image: Tourism Ireland


Closer to the harbour and lying slightly inland the 16th-century Howth Castle, which is partly in ruins, is also worth a visit. It is one of the oldest occupied buildings in Ireland, and its estate with fine rhododendron gardens and the Deer Park are key features of the area. In the grounds of Howth Castle lies a collapsed Dolmen known locally as Aideen's Grave and within the castle is a small, but impressive, voluntary run transport museum. The Martello tower overlooking Howth harbour is now open as a visitor centre containing the 'Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy' Museum of vintage radio. It offers a fine collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications from the 1840s to date.

Those who loved Ireland’s rock legend Phil Lynott (1949 - 1986) may also take the opportunity to pay their last respects to the artist during a visit to Howth. Lynott was an Irish musician, singer and songwriter and his most successful group was ‘Thin Lizzy’, of which he was a founding member, the principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist. He later also found success as a solo artist. Sadly his last years were to be dogged by drug and alcohol dependency that caused his life to end at the young age of 36. Lynott's final resting place is in St. Fintan's Cemetery located in Sutton on the opposite side of the Ben of Howth that looks over Dublin Bay. It is just off a circular walk of the Ben of Howth and around 4 KM, or 50 minutes’ walk, from Howth.

From a coastal sailing perspective, Howth has just about everything a visiting yachtsman could want. It is a national centre for yachting with easy access, excellent protection, copious facilities, a direct connection to the capital via a regular commuter rail service plus it has an attractive surrounding cruising area. This is an ideal location to attend to boat work, provisions, and to explore not only Howth but Dublin itself. Howth Yacht Club is particularly welcoming and can trace its origins back to 1895. Today it has the largest yacht-club membership in Ireland combining the modern with the traditional.


What facilities are available?
From a boating perspective lift-out, repair, fuel, provisioning, chandlery, and general shopping etc. are all available. Howth is a major yachting centre and it has virtually everything.

Fresh water can be obtained at the Club Marina, electricity at the pontoon, toilets and showers are available, and diesel is supplied 24 hours a day. Local shops, supermarkets and restaurants will cater for food supplies.

Howth is at the end of a regional road from Dublin City and is one of the northern termini of the DART suburban rail system. It is also served by Dublin Bus. Dublin international airport is very close to Howth and is only a short taxi ride away, ideal for crew changes.


Any security concerns?
Access to the Clubhouse and Marina, and to the Marina gate, is gained by using the intercom system located at the main entrance and by security keys.


With thanks to:
Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner. Photography by Brian Lennon, Superchillum, William Murphy, Phillipp Weissenbacher, Christine Matthews, Ana Rey, Giuessppe Milo, Michael Harpur, Christian Torissen, John Kavenagh, Keith Salvesen and Vistor Grigas.


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













































An aerial overview of the harbour area.




Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy performing their rock version of 'Whiskey in the jar'



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