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Baltimore Harbour North Entrance

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What is the route?
This is an alternative approach to Baltimore Harbour or cut into Long Island Bay for vessels moored in the harbour area.

Why sail this route?
The southern entrance into Baltimore is the preferred, best marked and most straightforward. However, the northern entrance is the more protected from strong southerly conditions and can provide an enjoyable hour of pilotage to cut out into Long Island Bay or vice versa.

Tidal overview
Today's summary tidal overview for this route as of Thursday, February 29th at 02:47. The flood stream for the River Ilen commences at Dover -0005 (Cobh +0545), the ebb Dover +0605 (Cobh -0030).

Out Going Stream

(HW Dover +0605 to -0005)

Starts in 04:37:17

(Thu 07:25 to 13:40)

In Going Stream

(HW Dover -0005 to +0605)


(Tidal flow )

Ends in 04:37:17

(Thu 01:15 to 07:25)

What are the navigational notes?
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the route. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Clicking the 'Expand to Fullscreen' icon opens a larger viewing area in a new tab.

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Please zoom out (-) if all of the waypoints are not displayed.
The above plots are not precise and are indicative only.


The natural harbour of Baltimore lies between Sherkin, Spanish Island and Ringarogy Islands and the mainland. A popular fishing port and busy yachting centre the harbour is normally approached via its southern entrance between Beacon Point, to the east marked by a beacon, and Barrack Point on Sherkin Island, marked by a lighthouse.

The harbour may also be entered, exited or provide access to the southern half of Long Island Bay, via a The Sound, Ilen River and a passage between Hare and Sherkin Islands. This route, at times, twists and turns through narrow intricate channels passing several undistinguished islets and islands. The channels have covered and exposed obstructions in the margins and the passage is particularly challenging in the vicinity of Turk’s Head.

This all leaves zero margin for pilotage error so good visibility, conditions and a powered vessel along with a good set of charts and plotter will be essential for this cut. However, with the minimum depth for the entire route being 6 metres, there is ample water all the way and in good conditions, it offers an interesting hour of keen pilotage.

In terms of time-saving there would be little between this route and coming out the southern entrance to Baltimore harbour and using the Gascanane Sound cuts, the western pass Route location and eastern pass Route location, to access Long Island Bay. This route would be a much shorter passage but it is more involved than an approach through Gascanane Sound. However, if the tide is unfavourable in Gascanane Sound, this cut could be the better option.


The complete course is 3.50 miles from the waypoint 'South end of The Sound' to 'Midway between Toorane Rocks and Sherkin Island' tending in a west south westerly direction (reciprocal east north easterly).

South end of The Sound, 51° 29.355' N, 009° 23.791' W
Close east of the Narrows Ledge East Cardinal Light Buoy on the south end of The Sound situated in the north end of Baltimore Harbour between Spanish Island and Sherkin Island.

       Next waypoint: 0.44 miles, course 312.86°T (reciprocal 132.86°T)

Midway between Sandy and Quarantine Islands, 51° 29.656' N, 009° 24.312' W
In the north end of The Sound between Sandy and Quarantine Islands.

       Next waypoint: 0.13 miles, course 347.23°T (reciprocal 167.23°T)

River Ilen turning point, 51° 29.785' N, 009° 24.359' W
Entering or breaking off the River Ilen that trends northeastward to the town of Skibbereen.

       Next waypoint: 0.10 miles, course 250.54°T (reciprocal 70.54°T)

Passing between the mainland and Sandy Island, 51° 29.751' N, 009° 24.514' W
Be vigilant of a drying rock that extends from the northeast-most point of Sandy Island in this vicinity.

       Next waypoint: 0.15 miles, course 234.43°T (reciprocal 54.43°T)

Passing south of the Mealbeg Rocks off Turk Head, 51° 29.662' N, 009° 24.714' W
The Mealbeg Rocks are two distinct rock groups of inner and outer rocks close off Turk Head. The inner is a half tide rock but the outer one is the real danger here as it is normally covered with its head only awash at low water. It is located about 50 metres south by southwest of the inner rock and is marked by the Mealbeg South Cardinal Buoy, Fl 6 + LF1 15s moored close southwest.

       Next waypoint: 0.25 miles, course 281.38°T (reciprocal 101.38°T)

River Ilen entrance turnpoint, 51° 29.711' N, 009° 25.105' W
This is the northern end of the pass between The Catalogues and Two Women's Rock, that is awash, where the entrance to the River Ilen opens.

       Next waypoint: 0.17 miles, course 188.44°T (reciprocal 8.44°T)

Passing between The Catalogues and two Womans Rock, 51° 29.539' N, 009° 25.146' W
This is the southern end of the space between The Catalogues and Two Women's Rock situated 400 metres west of The Catalogues.

       Next waypoint: 0.65 miles, course 212.05°T (reciprocal 32.05°T)

Between Hare Island and Sherkin Island, 51° 28.988' N, 009° 25.700' W
This is the intersection point of the 212½° T of Mount Lahan, at the northeast end of Clear Island and Drowlaun Point, on Sherkin Island, with 230° T of the ruins of Doonanore Castle open east of Illauneana, a small islet that lies close north of Cape Clear Island and 1½ miles to the northeast of the castle. The 230° T bearing passing out between Drowlaun Point and Mullin Rock.

       Next waypoint: 1.60 miles, course 230.29°T (reciprocal 50.29°T)

Midway between Toorane Rocks and Sherkin Island, 51° 27.969' N, 009° 27.669' W
This is the intersection point of the line of bearing of 230° T of the ruins of Doonanore Castle open east of Illauneana, a small islet that lies close north of Cape Clear Island 1½ miles to the northeast of the castle, with the line of bearing 336° T, of the remarkable cleft on the east side of Mount Gabriel called of Barnacleeve Gap, cuts across this leading line. The Barnacleeve Gap bearing leads southwest of the outer danger of Toorane Rocks.


The principal outlying dangers in the mouth of the River Ilen are the Mealbeg Rocks, situated close south off Turk Head and marked by a lighted cardinal buoy, and a drying rock that extends from the northeast-most point of Sandy Island.

This passage relies primarily upon eyeball navigation with clear visibility, good charts and moderate conditions. The waypoints provided are only intended to assist in identifying the key turning points in the passage and cannot be used in isolation. Take this route under power, in a steady fashion picking your way around the rocks and through the channels via eyeball navigation.
What is the best sailing time?
Sailing season for Ireland is May to September, with June and July offering some of the best weather. Nevertheless the incidence of winds up to force seven and above in June and July are on average two days each month. So you may be either held up or having a blast depending on your sailing preferences. Ireland is not subject to persistent fog – statistically complete days of persistent fog occur less than once in a decade.

Are there any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a pleasure vessel sailing off the Irish coast.

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

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