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Useful tidal back eddies supporting passages from the Kilmore Quay area

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What is the route?
This is a useful pair of tidal back-eddies located in the coastal bights east and west of Kilmore Quay and the Saltee Islands, upon the southeast corner of Ireland. The route covers both of the eddies although in practice it will only be one of its western or eastern halves that will be used to commence a coastal passage.

Why sail this route?
Availing of one of the conjoining back eddies can add at least two hours of favourable tides to vessel making an east or westbound passage from the popular fishing harbour and marina of Kilmore Quay or the anchorages in this vicinity. This provides any inshore passage commenced in this area with the benefit of eight hours of favourable tidal streams

Tidal overview
Today's summary tidal overview for this route as of Monday, May 29th at 14:22. Westbound vessels should be close south of Kilmore Quay at HW Dover -2:00, (HW Cobh +4:15 Hours) to make the best of the Ballyteige Bay eddy. East and northbound vessels should be at Saint Patrick’s Bridge at HW Dover + 4:15 (HW Cobh -2 Hours) to make the best of the best of the eddy in the bight between the Saltee Islands and Carnsore Point.

East and northbound

(HW Dover +0415 to +0445)

Starts in 09:31:32

(Mon 23:54 to 00:24)


(HW Dover -0200 to -0130)

Starts in 03:16:32

(Mon 17:39 to 18:09)

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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The above plots are not precise and are indicative only.


The back eddies situated in Ballyteige Bay and the bight between the Saltee Islands and Carnsore Point can then be utilised to take a vessel to Hook Head or Carnsore Point ready for the turn of the main body of the tide.

Using the times provided here a vessel may avail of the Ballyteige Bay eddy to carry it 14 miles to Hook Head where it may pick up the commencing favourable stream along the coast afterwards. The west setting tide is however not as strong as those of the Irish Sea and it could be said to be insignificant off Duncannon. Nonetheless, it can be a very useful lift when making a westbound passage.

The eddy in the bight between the Saltee Islands and Carnsore Point may also be availed of to commence an eastbound passage to support the ten miles passage that takes a vessel around Carnsore Point. This sets the vessel up perfectly at the Fundale Buoy to avail of a full six hours of the strong Irish Sea tides as the flood north to speed a passage up the Irish Sea. This full route is detailed in the separate Dublin - Kilmore Quay inside the banks Route location entry.

Vessels sailing in these waters should be attentive to navigation. The Saltee islands are fronted by numerous rocky shoals with several outlying dangers. Similarly St. Patrick's Bridge has shingle and rock banks that extend 1½ miles southward from Kilmore and a mile north from the northeast point of Little Saltee. It should only be crossed at the marked point where the greatest depth of 2.4 metres is available. It is advisable to avail of the cruising notes for the area that can be found in the Southern Ireland Coastal Description - Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location.


The complete course is 21.29 miles from the waypoint '500 metres southeast of Carnsore Point' to '1 mile south of Hook Head Light' tending in a westerly direction (reciprocal easterly).

500 metres southeast of Carnsore Point, 52° 10.090' N, 006° 21.700' W
This is approximately 500 metres southeast of the point. This is close to the Carnsore point to keep a vessel well inside the Tercheen Rock, awash 400 metres to the north of Black Rock which is clearly visible.

       Next waypoint: 6.99 miles, course 263.25°T (reciprocal 83.25°T)

St. Patrick's Bridge - eastern approach alignment waypoint, 52° 9.260' N, 006° 33.000' W
This is positioned approximately a mile to the east of St. Patrick’s Bridge to align the best passage.

       Next waypoint: 1.04 miles, course 270.01°T (reciprocal 90.01°T)

St. Patrick's Bridge, 52° 9.260' N, 006° 34.700' W
The deepest part of the St. Patrick's Bridge, 2.4 metres CD to cross. From April to September two seasonal port and starboard light buoys are provided for this crossing with the direction of buoyage being from west to east. Green Buoy Fl. G6s 2M, Red Buoy Fl. R6s 2M.

       Next waypoint: 0.40 miles, course 270.00°T (reciprocal 90.00°T)

St. Patrick's Bridge - western approach alignment waypoint, 52° 9.260' N, 006° 35.350' W
About 400 metres west of St. Patrick’s Bridge and very close to the Kilmore Quay’s safe water marker. The harbour's leading marks will be coming in-line, on 007.8° T, at about this point.

       Next waypoint: 12.86 miles, course 257.37°T (reciprocal 77.37°T)

1 mile south of Hook Head Light, 52° 6.420' N, 006° 55.770' W
South of Hook Head Lighthouse - Fl 3s 46m 24M and Tower Race. Tower Race which forms when the ebb from Waterford Harbour is stronger than the west-going stream becomes violent in strong westerly winds, and particularly so between about 2 hours before to 2 hours after High Water Dover.


Use the following rule of thumb timings to avail of this set of back-eddies when departing from Kilmore Quay or anchorages in its vicinity.

Westbound vessels should be close south of Kilmore Quay at HW Dover -2:00, (HW Cobh +4:15 Hours).

East and northbound vessels should be at Saint Patrick’s Bridge HW Dover + 4:15 (HW Cobh -2 Hours). This will provide two hours of favourable tide for the passage to Carnsore Point. Upon rounding the point 6 hours of strong north going tides in the Irish Sea can be availed of. The eastbound route is detailed to Dublin in the Dublin - Kilmore Quay inside the banks Click to view haven entry.
What is the best sailing time?
Sailing season is May to September, with June and July offering some of the best weather. Nevertheless the incidence of gales in June and July are on average two days of winds each month of winds up to force seven. 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 sailing off the Irish coast.

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

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