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Coastal overview for Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour

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What is the route?
This is the primary coastal description and set of waypoints for the area between Rosslare Harbour and Cork Harbour. The detailed coastal description may be used by those planning to come closer inshore or to approach one of the useful passage havens that are listed along the length of the route. The sequence of description is from east to west or coastal clockwise, as follows:

  • • From the Rosslare Harbour via its entrance channel

  • • Inside the Bailies

  • • Between Carnsore Point and the Tercheen and Black Rock

  • • Between the Saltee Islands and the mainland via St. Patrick's Bridge

  • • South of Hook Head and directly to the Cork Habour entrance
The preceding eastern coast's set of waypoints and coastal description is available by clicking 'Previous', above, and vessels planning on continuing westwards, past Cork Harbour and around to the west coast, can find the following sets of waypoints and coastal descriptions by clicking 'Next'.

Why sail this route?
The is a straightforward set of waypoints providing a coastal route to passing between Rosslare and Cork Harbour whilst rounding the southeast corner of Ireland. Boats approaching from Saint George's Channel, or the east coast of Ireland, and rounding Carnsore Point, Ireland’s south-eastern corner, have two primary options:

  • • The 'offshore route' that rounds the corner outside of Tuskar Rock and the Saltee Islands to the south of Coningbeg Super Buoy.

  • • The 'inshore route', that comes close in and around Carnsore Point and heads almost directly west to pass through St. Patrick’s Bridge, between the Saltee Islands and the mainland.
It is the 'inshore route' that is detailed here with the separately covered 'Offshore Route' Route location being available as a separate option for rounding Carnsore Point.

Please note

The current tidal event is springs so expect streams to be at their strongest.

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 eighty-five miles of coast between Rosslare and Cork Harbour moves from long stretches of sandy shorelines, backed by lowlands, in the east, to the predominately rock cliff, and boulder-strewn indentations in the west. The passage is interspersed by numerous headlands and peninsulas with a few off-lying dangers residing to seaward of the salient points.

Careful advance planning is required to round the south-east corner of Ireland where the Atlantic Ocean and the St. George's Channel collide with tidal flows that attain up to 2.5 knots. To say the least it can be a very rough corner, both close in and well out to sea. In heavy weather conditions, with wind-against-tide, heavy overfalls will be found all along the coast and it should be entirely avoided. In fair conditions, with careful tidal planning, it is more than manageable.


The complete course is 83.33 miles from the waypoint 'Rosslare Harbour Pierhead light' to '½ a mile east of the Cork Sea Buoy' tending in a west south westerly direction (reciprocal east north easterly).

Rosslare Harbour Pierhead light, 52° 15.421' N, 006° 20.260' W
Rosslare Harbour Red Tower, Oc.W.R.G. 5s 15m 13-10M, at the head of the pier.

       Next waypoint: 1.57 miles, course 104.43°T (reciprocal 284.43°T)

100 metres north of Calmines Buoy, 52° 15.030' N, 006° 17.781' W
Calmines Red Can Buoy, Fl R 3s SYNC

       Next waypoint: 0.87 miles, course 135.47°T (reciprocal 315.47°T)

100 metres north of Splaugh Light buoy, 52° 14.410' N, 006° 16.785' W
Splaugh Light red buoy, Fl(2) R 6s Sync, situated ¾ of a mile to the east by north-east of an extensive rocky shoal, with 0.6 of a metre on its shallowest part. From here steer to stay inside The Bailies.

       Next waypoint: 3.78 miles, course 207.16°T (reciprocal 27.16°T)

100 metres east of Fundale Rock Buoy, 52° 11.045' N, 006° 19.600' W
Fundale Red Buoy, Fl (2) R 10s, marks a Fundale Rock that resides 600 metres west-northwest of Carnsore Point. It uncovers at half-tide and dries to 1.2 metres. This is close to the shoreline so some vigilance is needed not to allow the strong tidal sweep around Carnsore Point to set the boat towards the shore. Beware of lobster pots along this corner.

       Next waypoint: 1.60 miles, course 233.46°T (reciprocal 53.46°T)

Carnsore Point, 52° 10.090' N, 006° 21.700' W
Approximately 500 metres south-east of the point. This leg is positioned close to the Carnsore Point in order to keep pass well inside Tercheen Rock, awash and 400 metres to the north of Back Rock that is always clearly visible. Steering for St. Patrick's Bridge keeps the vessel north of the Bohurs which are subject to extensive overfalls.

       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.

       Next waypoint: 54.21 miles, course 244.83°T (reciprocal 64.83°T)

½ a mile east of the Cork Sea Buoy, 51° 42.935' N, 008° 14.910' W
The Cork Sea Buoy has LFl 10s and is situated 5 miles south of the Cork Harbour entrance. The waypoint is in the alignment 354°T of the leading lights at Dogsnose situated about 1½ miles within the entrance and on the east side of Cork Harbour.


Rosslare Europort and Rosslare Bay
Image: Michael Harpur

Both Rosslare Europort Click to view haven, formerly and more commonly known as Rosslare Harbour, and Rosslare Bay Click to view haven are entered from the south through the South Shear Channel. The South Shear Channel passes south of the extensive shoal that contains the Holden’s Bed and Long Bank that enclose the Rosslare Harbour and bay.

Rosslare Europort from the approach channel
Image: Michael Harpur

The southernmost sandbank is immediately east of Rosslare Harbour and called the Holdens Bed. It is approximately ¾ of a mile long, north to south, and a ¼ of a mile wide. Located immediately to the south-west of the Long Bank it may be considered a detached portion of this larger bank. The Holdens Bed has 5.8 metres of water at its shallowest point and its western edge is steep-to.

Rosslare Europort
Image: Michael Harpur

The South Shear is immediately south of Holdens Bed bank and the southern end of the Long Bank. It is ½ a mile wide with a controlled depth of 6.7 metres at the entrance decreasing to 3.9 to 4.5 metres off the head of the harbour breakwater. The key northern markers for the South Shear are starboard markers off the Holdens Bank plus a south cardinal off the southern end of the Long Bank. All of the following markers should be passed to port.

West Holdens – Starboard Buoy Fl (3) G 10s position: 52° 15.763'N, 006° 18.747'W

South Holdens – Starboard Buoy Fl (2) G 6s position: 52° 15.146'N, 006° 17.249'W

South Long - South Cardinal VQ (6) + LFl 10s position: 52° 14.835’N, 006° 15.647’W

Rosslare Europort's pierhead light with Tuskar Rock in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur
The South Shear’s southern dangers, on the opposite or south side of the channel, are the shoals and reefs surrounding the mainland’s Greenore Point plus the Splaugh Rock. These are marked by the following markers that should be passed to starboard.

Calmines - Red Can Buoy Fl R 2s position: 52° 14.997’N, 006° 17.781’w

Splaugh - Red Can Buoy Fl R 6s position: 52° 14.432’N, 006° 16.774’W

The channel, along with the North Sheer that providing northern approaches, is supported at night by a white sector light from the red metal tower set on Rosslare Harbour pierhead.

Pierhead Light – Red Tower Oc.W.R.G. 5s 15m 13-10M position: 52° 15.430’N, 006° 20.320’W

The light sectors are as follows; Green 098°-188°, White-208°, Red -246°, Green-283°, White-286°, Red-320°.

A water tower ½ a mile to the northwest makes Greenore Point highly conspicuous. It may be additionally distinguished from Carnsore Point by its 18-metre high clay cliffs with a small derelict second world war watch station at its head. The very small Helen’s Bay boat harbour, protected by a short pier, may also be seen ¾ miles south by southwest of the point.

Carrick Rock beacon as seen over the channel's Calmines buoy
Image: Michael Harpur

This is a dangerous corner that requires specific attention. A reef extends 800 metres east by northeast from Greenore Point. At the end of the reef is Carrick Rock that is marked by a perch in the form of a red mast with a metal flag with letters "CR".

The reef extending from Greenore Point to Carrick Rock
Image: Michael Harpur

Greenore’s off-lying dangers plus unpredictable strong tidal currents make this area particularly dangerous. Heavy overfalls occur off the point caused by the rocky uneven bottom in the vicinity.

The Greenore Point watch station overlooking Carrick Rock
Image: Michael Harpur

Immediately offshore, 0.7 miles east by south-east of Greenore Point, is the Splaugh Rock, an extensive rocky shoal, with 0.6 of a metre on its shallowest part. Splaugh Rock is marked by the Splaugh Light buoy ¾ of a mile to the east-northeast.

Splaugh - Red Can Buoy Fl R 6s position: 52° 14.432’N, 006° 16.774’W

Via The Inshore Route

There are two primary options available to vessels passing around Carnsore Point, Ireland’s south-eastern corner, to/from St George's Channel or the east coast of Ireland:

  • • The 'offshore route', that rounds the southeast corner of Ireland on the outside, or on the eastern or seaward side, of Tuskar Rock using the Inshore Traffic Zone, of the Tuskar Rock Traffic Separation Scheme. This is detailed in the route rounding the southeast corner of Ireland via the 'Offshore Route' Route location.

  • • The 'inshore route' that passes inside the 3½ mile wide fairway that lies between the coast and Tuskar Rock and then passes close in and around Carnsore Point.

The former, 'offshore route', continues southwestward to pass the Barrels East Cardinal Mark Light Buoy and then to pass around the Saltee Islands to the south of Coningbeg Super Buoy. The 'inshore route' passes to the north of the Barrels, Tercheen Rock and Black Rock then heads almost directly west to pass through St. Patrick’s Bridge, between the Saltee Islands and the mainland. But the latter westward stages of either option, after Carnsore Point, may be exchanged according to one's preference.

Although the 'inshore route' requires some more attentive navigation and good visibility it is the preferred leisure craft route for many reasons. It avoids the complications of the Inshore Traffic Zone, shortens the approach distance and secures smoother inshore waters. In reasonable conditions, with the benefit of good visibility plus a good breeze, or a reliable engine, the inshore option offers the leisure boats the better option and more interesting passage and it is the coastal description that is detailed here. However, the 'offshore route' detailed in Rounding the southeast corner of Ireland via the 'Offshore Route' Route location, is much more straightforward and the best approach to take at night, with poor visibility or in uncomfortable weather.

Southward via the 'Inshore Route'

Vessels taking the 'inshore route' should stand well clear of Greenore Point
Image: euphro via CC BY 2.0

Leisure vessels taking the inshore route should entirely avoid Greenore Point and the surrounding area.
From there a vessel should make a direct path to pass immediately east of the Fundale port hand marker Buoy, just over 4 miles 208° T along the coast - see below.

This route between the Splaugh and Fundale markers take a vessel just inside, to the west of, The Bailies and close outside, to the east, of Whilkeen and Collough rocks.

Tuskar Rock Lighthouse as seen from the north
Image: Tom Furlong

This is well inside Tuskar Rock that is the outermost danger of this corner of Ireland, situated 6 miles east by north-east of Carnsore Point. It is 5 metres high and located on a rocky bank with depths of less than 3 metres around it, except on the east side that is steep-to. A light is shown from a conspicuous lighthouse structure, 34 metres high, standing on the rock.

Tuskar - Lighthouse Q(2) 7.5s position: 52°12.175'N, 006°12.445'W

Tuskar Rock Lighthouse first lit in 1815
Image: Blair Kelly
On the west side of the rock, the deep-water channel is 1½ miles wide between the dangers west of the rock and The Bailies bank and this is also a viable option. The traffic separation scheme is established within 11 miles south-east of Tuskar Rock. Vessels proceeding north should enter St. George’s Channel through the outer lane and vessels proceeding south should leave the channel through the inner lane. Northbound vessels should be aware that outbound vessels from ports on the east side of the Irish Sea, generally head across St. George’s Channel in order to enter the south and inner traffic lane.

The South Rock Light buoy is moored 1.5 miles South of Tuskar Rock marking the South Rock with 2.4 metres of water over it.

South Rock - South Cardinal Q (6) + LFl 15s position: 52° 2 10.810’N, 006° 12.848’W

The 'inshore route' is well in from Tuskar Rock and inside the The Bailies that extend along the shore approximately ¾ of the distance between the Tuskar and the mainland. The Bailies are part of an irregular bank of rocks and coarse ground that extend from Greenore Point in a south-southwest direction for four miles. At its shallowest, the bank has just over 9 metres of cover and heavy overfalls are to be found here on its rocky pinnacles.

The direct path between the Splaugh and Fundale markers takes a vessel along the inshore edge of The Bailies where deeper waters are to be found between the shoal and the Wexford shoreline. It may be advisable for smaller vessels to avoid The Bailies entirely in the full strength of the tidal streams when the overfalls occur.

Ballytrent Bay indenting the coast close north of Whilkeen Rock
Image: Michael Harpur

There is an anchorage in Ballytrent Bay Click to view haven, about 2 miles south by southwest of Splagh Rock and northward of Whilkeen Rock. The open clean bay provides shelter during moderate winds from north round through west, to west by southwest in ample water with good sand holding.

Ballytrent's grove of trees and mast from seaward
Image: Burke Corbett

The anchoring area will be readily apparent on approach as it lies beneath a grove of trees which is the only significant group of trees along this stretch of coast. There is also a radio mast within the treeline and a house standing close north.

The two rock groups that exist outside and between Ballytrent Bay and St Margaret's Bay on the shore. These are the Whilkeen Rocks and Collough to the south of St Margret's Bay. Although unmarked, they are prominently noted on charts.

Wilkeen Rock as seen from the southern end of Ballytrent Bay
Image: Burke Corbett

Awash at high-water springs and drying to about 2.5 metres Whilkeen Rock resides about 700 metres out from the shore. It forms the extremity of a reef that partially uncovers at low water with foul ground extending ashore for a distance of 400 metres to the northeast and east of it.

Whilkeen Rock – unmarked position: 52° 12.234’N, 006° 20.051’W

Black Rock, kept open of Carnsore Point, bearing 239° T leads southward of Collough and Fundale Rocks. Alternatively, Ballytrent House (bearing 336° T), open eastward of Whilkeen Rock when dry, leads eastward of Collough and Fundale Rocks (below).

Carne's small pier at the south end of St Margaret’s Bay
Image: Michael Harpur

In St Margaret's Bay, between Collough and Whilkeen Rocks, there is the tidal pier of Carne Click to view haven that is principally used for the protection of small lobster boats. A good anchorage for leisure vessels over clean sand can be had here with offshore winds. But when the wind is southward of west a heavy swell rolls in.

Carne Pier with Crossfintan Point and Carnsore Point in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur

Crossfintan Point, 1.2 miles north by northeast of Carnsore Point, has the latter outside danger Collough Rock. The outlying Collough Rock lies about a ½ mile eastward of the point, ¾ of a mile to the south of Whilkeen and about 1¾ miles northeastward of Carnsore Point. It is steep-to, and has a general depth of 1.5 metres but is awash at LAT over a small part. Foul ground extends 0.2 mile northeast and east of Collough Rock.

Collough Rock – unmarked position: 52° 11.450’N, 006° 19.803’W

Fundale Buoy with Carnsore Point in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

Just over ½ a mile southwest of Collough Rock and about 1 mile northeast of Carnsore Point is Fundale Rock. Fundale is steep-to, dries at half-tide and dries to 1.2 metres. It is marked by a light port buoy moored close east by southeast.

Fundale - Red Can Buoy Fl (2) R 10s position: 51° 10.655’N, 006° 20.299’W

Low and modest Carnsore Point shows its outline at dusk
Image: Michael Foley via CC BY-NC 2.0

Modestly marking Ireland’s south-east corner Carnsore Point is a low 16-metre high clay cliff with rocky shelves beneath. The point makes itself known from many miles by its prominent wind farm that consists of 14 large turbines. There are several rocks to the northeast but it is largely clear on the southern side with plenty of depth 500 metres offshore. Keep close to the southern shore to align a path to St. Patrick’s Bridge to the north of Tercheen Rock.
Please note

There can be a dangerous race off Carnsore Point. Beware of a strong tidal sweep that may occur when passing the Fundale Rock Buoy and Carnsore Point. It is essential that a vessel stays on track here and avoids being swept too far south or ashore depending on the tide at hand.


South of Carnsore Point the coast to St. Patrick’s Bridge is being low and fronted by offshore dangers. There are two routes available to proceed westward:

  • • The 'inshore route' comes close in and around Carnsore Point and heads almost directly west to pass through St Patrick’s Bridge, between the Saltee Islands and the mainland.

  • • The 'offshore route' continues southwestward to pass the Barrels East Cardinal Mark Light Buoy, to pass around the Saltee Islands to the south of Coningbeg Super Buoy.

The 'inshore route' is the preferred leisure craft route for many reasons. It avoids the complications of the Inshore Traffic Zone, shortens the approach distance and secures smoother inshore waters. In reasonable conditions, with the benefit of good visibility plus a good breeze, or a reliable engine, the inshore option offers the leisure boats the better option and more interesting passage. Hence this coastal description provides waypoints for the 'inshore route'. Conversely, the 'offshore route' is much more straightforward and the best approach to take at night, with poor visibility or in uncomfortable weather. Hence, there is a separate set of waypoints for rounding Carnsore Point by the 'offshore route'Route location.

Barrels Cardinal Mark with Carnsore Point in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

The inshore route continues to St. Patrick’s Bridge by passing north of the Barrels Rock, Black Rock and Tercheen rocks; the latter being the most important.

This path will have a vessel pass about a mile north of the drying Barrels Rocks that lie about 1.8 miles south by south-west of Carnsore Point. An additional shoal, Nether Rock, with 5 metres of cover, lies ½ mile north by north-west of these rocks. The Barrels are marked by an East Cardinal Buoy that is moored about 2 miles south of Carnsore Point.

Barrels – East Cardinal Q (3) 10s position: 52° 08.363’N, 006° 22.108’W

If at this point there is any uncertainty of visibility or a big sea is running this is the opportunity to go south and seaward. Thereby taking the latter half of the rounding Carnsore Point by the 'offshore route'Route location by making for the Barrels Light buoy and then for the Coningbeg Super Buoy.

Black Rock as seen from the southwest with Carnsore in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

The reference rock to identify on the 'inshore route' is the highly conspicuous Black Rock that resides 2 miles southwest-by-south of Carnsore Point. It is about 100 metres in extent and elevated 2 metres above high water. The south side of it is clear of danger, but 400 metres to the north of it is a detached rock, the Tercheen, that only uncovers at low water and is awash at other times.

Black Rock – unmarked position: 52° 09.209’N, 006° 24.893’W

Once Black Rock is located Tercheen Rock is then the key rock to accurately position. It will be found awash, or drying, 400 metres to the north of Black Rock. A midway path between the prominent Black Rock and the mainland comfortably passes to the north of Tercheen.

Tercheen Rock – unmarked, position: 52° 09.409’N, 006° 24.911’W

Once past these rocks, the passage is clear to St. Patrick’s Bridge located 7 miles west by south-west between the northernmost of the Saltee Islands, Little Saltee, and the mainland.

The Saltee Islands appearing on the western horizon
Image: Burke Corbett

The Saltee Islands consist of two islands, Great Saltee and Little Saltee and require specific attention. Both islands are fronted by numerous rocks and shoals and have highly irregular surrounding currents. They offer a host of, largely settled condition, anchorages out of the strength of the tidal currents see below 'Additional notes for the Saltee Islands'.

The Saltee Islands as seen from the northeast on the approach to the pass over
St Patrick's Bridge

Image: Burke Corbett

Situated within the 1¾ mile-wide gap between the shore and northern Little Saltee Island, St. Patrick’s Bridge is a ridge of rock and shingle that curves back from the northernmost point of the Little Saltee to the mainland east of Kilmore Quay. The attached ends dry off a considerable distance from each side and at about midway between the island and the shore, if a little closer to Little Saltee, there is a passage over the ridge. The passage has 2.4 metres at LWS and is well marked from April to September by two seasonal port and starboard light buoys.

Starboard Marker – Green Buoy Fl. G6s 2M position: 52°09.300’N, 006° 34.700’W

Port Marker – Red Buoy Fl. R6s 2M position: 52°09.135’N, 006° 34.700’W

St Patrick’s Bridge extending from the shore to the east of Kilmore Quay
Image: Michael Harpur

On approach, the 35 meters high Little Saltee Island, on the southern side, plus the constant use by leisure and fishing boats should make the bridge and passage plain to see. A local boatman’s set of waypoints will align the bridge for crossing at the optimal point.

St Patrick's Bridge East – alignment waypoint: 52° 09.300’N, 006° 33.000’W

St Patrick's Bridge – waypoint: 52° 09.300’N, 006° 34.700’W

St Patrick's Bridge West – alignment waypoint: 52° 09.300’N, 006° 35.650’W

The St Patrick's Bridge passage offers the shortest and simplest route to the inshore area between the Kilmore Quay and the Saltee Islands. It is also the quickest route from Carnsore Point to Hook Head.

Kilmore Quay’s Safe Water Marker with the leading marks aligned in the

Image: Michael Harpur

The bridge crossing aligns a vessel to track down on the Kilmore Quay’s safe water marker. This is a red and white buoy that has a white long flash and situated a ⅓ of a mile west of the St. Patrick's Bridge crossing point.
Please note

The buoy may not be marked on older charts as it was only established in April 2007.

Kilmore Quay situated four miles north of the Saltee Islands
Image: Michael Harpur

The popular fishing harbour and the village of Kilmore Quay Click to view haven is situated ½ a mile west of St Patrick's Bridge and 4 miles northward of the Saltee Islands. The small fishing harbour, protected by two quays, has a small marina and ample leisure facilities such as sea angling charters and pleasure trips to the Saltee Islands that also contribute significantly to its economy.

(Additional Notes)

The Saltee Islands as seen from Kilmore Quay
Image: Michael Harpur

Below are additional navigational notes for vessels assessing other routes and berthing opportunities Click to view haven in and around the Saltee Islands or for those who plan to cruise in this area.

The view from the southwest end of Great Saltee Island
Image: Michael Harpur

Two passages lead through the islands; St. Patrick’s Bridge, the shallower passage, leads north of Little Saltee and is used by fishing vessels and leisure craft.

St Patrick's Bridge extending from the shore a ⅓ of a mile from Kilmore Quay
Image: Michael Harpur

Saltee Sound leads between the two islands and has depths in the fairway of 8 to 10 metres. The fairway is reduced to a width of about 0.3 miles between the foul ground extending from the islands. In uncertain weather, or when a heavy swell is running, Saltee Sound, however, would be the preferred option.

Saltee Sound as seen from Great Saltee Island
Image: Michael Harpur

Sea conditions around and particularly to the south of the islands are formidable in strong winds or with wind-against-tide. However in fair conditions circumnavigating the islands offer excellent cliff scenery and interesting sailing in the areas tidal races and eddies. For those planning to cruise around islands a detailed chart, such as Admiralty 2740, is recommended to navigate through this sailing area’s complex rocks and shoals.

Below are some notes, sequenced from south to north, to assist in locating the key rocks and shoals surrounding the Saltee Islands:

Coningbeg Rock: Coningbeg Rock is steep-to and dries to 2.8 metres and is typically awash with breakers when covered. It lies 2½ miles south by south-west Great Saltee and 1¼ miles to the south-west of Coningmore.

Coningbeg Rock – position: 52° 04.144’N, 006° 38.478’W

The rock is marked by the Coningbeg Super Buoy that is situated one mile due south from the rock itself. This is a red tower and hull with ‘CONINGBEG’ written in white letters on each side.

Coningbeg Super Buoy - Q(6) + L fl 15s position: 52° 03.198’N, 006° 38.567’W

Cruising vessels may pass north of Coningbeg Light float between it and Coningbeg Rock but stay well clear of the rock.

Coningmore Rocks: This rock group consisting of a cluster of three rocks lying within 300 metres of each other with the largest being an easily identifiable four metres high. The steep-to cluster is 1⅓ miles to the south of Great Saltee’s southernmost point.

Coningmore Rocks – unmarked position: 52° 05.191’N, 006° 37.283’W

Red Bank: This is a ¼ of a 1long rocky shoal with 7.9 metres of cover. The tidal current over the bank and the uneven ground to the south of it can cause considerable overfalls. It is situated two miles south-west of Great Saltee, 1¼ miles north-west of Coningbeg Rock, and 1½ miles west of Coningmore.

Red Bank West Cardinal - VQ(9) 10s position: 52° 04.499’N, 006° 41.652’W

The Brandies: The Brandies are two dangerous rocks 500 metres apart. 'West Brandie' being the higher of the two, drying to 2.5 metres, whilst East Brandie dries 0.9 metres. They are situated 1½ miles to the southeast of Great Saltee and a mile and ¾ west by south-west of the Bore Rocks East Cardinal. The tidal current sets past these rocks with considerable strength and causes overfalls when they are covered.

Brandies – unmarked position: 52° 05.852’N, 006° 34.692’W

The Bohurs: The Bohurs are three separate rocks with the north most, Long Bore, residing to the east of the islands in a direct line of approach to Saltee Sound from Carnsore point. Although they have plenty of cover for sailing craft, the shallowest being Long Bohur with 4 metres of water over it, they should be avoided as tidal races and breaking seas surround them and particularly so in wind over tide conditions.

Bore Rocks East Cardinal with Great Saltee in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

From north to south, 'Long Bohur' with 4 metres of cover resides 1¼ miles to the east of the southern end of Little Saltee Island. Half a mile south by south-east of Long Bohur is ‘Short Bohur’ with 7.3 metres of cover. Finally 'The Bore', with 5.5 metres of cover, resides just under a mile to the south of Short Bohur and ¾ of a mile northwest of the Bore Rocks East Cardinal.

Bore - East Cardinal Q(3) 10S position: 52° 52 06.074’N, 006° 31.871’W

Shoal Rock: Shoal Rock has 0.9 metres of cover and resides a ¼ of a mile southeast of Great Saltee Island’s southwestern point. It is made visible by a triple ripple.

Shoal rock – unmarked position: 52° 06.119’N, 006° 37.805’W

The entire southwest corner of Great Saltee Island should be given a wide berth. As along with Shoal Rock, Moly Hoy (shows), Panstown Rock (shows above high water) and off-lying rocks from the east side of the southern tip of the island, called the Seven Heads Reef, complicate the inshore area.

Sunken Rock of Makeston awash 200 metres to the southwest of Makeston Rock
Image: Burke Corbett

Sunken Rock of Makeston: Close into the shore on the east side of the island, off the bays to the south-east of Great Saltee Island immediately east of Gilert Bay, Makeston Rock shows.

Sunken Rock of Makeston – unmarked position: 52° 06.853’N, 006° 36 419’W

Sunken Rock of Makeston awash
Image: Burke Corbett

Ring Rock: Ring Rock resides immediately offshore of the northwest point of the Great Saltee Island outside The Ring.

Ring Rock – unmarked position: 52° 07.223’N, 006° 36.634’W

The Ring on the northwest point of the Great Saltee Island
Image: Michael Harpur

Whitty Rock: Whitty Rock, awash at low water, situated close west of The Ring, 500 metres from the northwest point of the Great Saltee Island.

Whitty Rock – unmarked position: 52° 07.239’N, 006° 37.577’W

Power’s Rock: Powers Rock, with 0.3 metres of cover, resides 600 metres to the northwest of the centre of Great Saltee Island.

Power’s Rock – unmarked position: 52° 07.344’N, 006° 37.084’W

The Sebber Bridge
Image: Michael Harpur

Sebber Bridge: The Sebber Bridge is a shallow reef of boulders and coarse gravel that runs off ¾ of a mile northwards from the northeast extremity of Great Saltee Island. It reduces the width of Saltee Sound to a width of 600 metres between it and the foul ground extending west from Little Saltee. Special care is required for this reef as the streams run approximately east and west through Saltee Sound and directly across Sebber Bridge.

Galgee Rock just breaking
Image: Burke Corbett

Galgee Rock: Galgee Rocks, awash at low water, reside 250 metres to the south-west of Little Saltee Island southernmost point.

Galgee Rock – unmarked position: 52° 07.869’N, 006° 35.228’W

Goose Rock with its southwestern head showing
Image: Michael Harpur

Goose Rock: Goose Rock dries to 2.6 metres, resides 300 metres off the southwest corner of Little Saltee Island. Please note a covered off lying portion resides 15 metres to the southwest.

Goose Rock – unmarked position: 52° 08.042’N, 006° 35.546’W

Privateer Rock: Although unnamed Privateer Rock, with 3 metres of cover, is clearly marked on the charts ½ a mile west of the centre of Little Saltee Island.

Privateer Rock – unmarked position: 52° 08.349’N, 006° 35.635’W

Jackeen Rock: Jackeen Rock, with 1.5 metres of cover, lies just over a mile west by south-west of the north tip of Little Saltee Island.

Jackeen Rock – unmarked position: 52° 08.438’N, 006° 36.722’W

Murrock’s Rock: Murroch's Rock, awash at low water, resides just under ¾ of a mile to the north-west of the Little Saltee Island.

Murrock’s Rock – unmarked position: 52° 08.753’N, 006°. 35.919’W

Forlorn Rock: Forlorn Rock, with 1.2 metres of water, is west by southwest and nearly ½ a mile offshore of Crossfarnoge (or Forlorn) Point.

Forlorn Rock – unmarked position: 52° 09.889’N, 006° 36.172’W

Lings: These are a series of rocks extending 600 metres south from the shore between Crossfarnoge Point and Kilmore Quay, plus to the east of the entrance path.

Vessels operating in this area should note and give special consideration to the following:

  • • The position of Jackeen and Murrock’s rocks if striking off a course for Hook Head after crossing St Patrick Bridge.

  • • The position of Galgee and Goose Rock if rounding the south-west corner of Little Saltee Island.

  • • The position of Forlorn Rock if you are trying to cut from Hook Head into the harbour.

  • • The position Shoal Rock when rounding Great Saltee Island’s south-west corner Seven Heads. A plan has to be made to pass outside or inside path around this covered rock.

  • • Those electing to enter the inshore area via Saltee Sound should pay particular attention to Galgee, Goose Rock and Privateer off the south-west corner of Little Saltee Island. Likewise, there is a ledge extending northward from Great Saltee called the Sebber Bridge plus Jackeen and Murrock’s rocks between Great Saltee and the shore.
Finally, a sharp lookout should always be maintained for lobster pots in and around the Kilmore Quay and Saltee Islands.


Crossfarnoge Point, locally known as Forlorn Point, to the west of Kilmore Quay
Image: Michael Harpur

Immediately east of Kilmore Quay and 13 miles east by northeast of Hook Head is the rocky Crossfarnoge Point that is locally known as Forlorn Point.

Crossfarnoge or Forlorn Point as seen from the beach to the north with Great
Saltee in the backdrop

Image: Michael Harpur

Ballyteige Castle will be seen nearly a mile north by northeast of the extremity of Crossfarnoge Point and a chapel with a belfry about 0.4 miles within the same point. Fort Mountain, 8.7 miles north of Crossfarnoge Point, the only high point in southeast Wexford, is visible in clear weather from all parts of Ballyteige Bay.

Ballyteige Bay as seen from Kilmore Quay
Image: Michael Harpur

Ballyteige Bay lies between the entrance to Bannow Bay and Crossfarnoge Point, about 8.5 miles east by south-east. The open bay is free of offshore obstructions after departing Kilmore and the Saltee Islands area. It is unsuitable for anything but a temporary anchorage in settled conditions and is foul with shoals and rocks.

The Keeragh Islands as seen from the northwest
Image: Burke Corbett

In the northwest extremity of the bay, two low islets called the Keeragh Islands will be found. Residing a mile offshore they are no more than 6 metres in height and a reef extends from the islets to the mainland. The Keeragh Islands should be given a wide berth owing to these obstructions and complicated surrounding currents.

The unmarked George Rock, with 1.2 metres of cover, lies ½ a mile to the northeast of the islets.

Bannow Bay and its approaches
Image: Michael Harpur

On the eastern shore of Hook Head, west of Ballytiege Bay, is Bannow Bay Click to view haven that lies between Ingard Point, which is foul to a distance of 300 metres offshore, and Clammers Point, 1½ miles northeast of Ingard Point. Within these points is an estuary, 4 miles in length, with a breadth of 1 to 1% miles, through which several streams find their way to the sea. Bannow Island, 21 metres at its highest point, lies in the entrance close to the eastern shore. The estuary is only navigable at high water, at which times small shoal draft craft can ascend to Clonmines, at its head.

The small Fethard Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur

The small drying Fethard Harbour Click to view haven lies on the southwest side of Bannow Bay with the small village of Fethard at its head.

Those who decide to cruise the eastern shoreline of the Hook Peninsula should make a note and identify the key rocks and shoals in this area. In the centre of the entrance to Bannow Bay is Selskar Shoal with 0.3 metres of cover while Selskar Rock, on the east side of the bay, dries to 2 metres. It should also be noted that the indraught of Bannow Bay is felt to some distance outside Shoal Rock.

Ingard Point immediately east of Fethard Harbour with Baginbun Head in the
backdrop soutward

Image: Michael Harpur

Those approaching Fethard Harbour should note the uncharted Shoal Rock. With 1.00 metre of cover on a low spring tide, it lies 1½ miles north-northeast of Ingard Point. As already noted the area off Ingard Point requires a wide berth as it dries up to 200 metres to the northeast of the point.

Baginbun Head with Innyard Point in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur

Situated 5 miles northeastward from Hook Lighthouse Baginbun Head may be positively identified by its conspicuous Martello Tower. Baginbun Click to view haven provides a useful anchorage with a wonderful beach.

Baginbun Head
Image: Michael Harpur

Standoff the head as it has rocks extending 600 metres to the northeast. A useful local boatman’s waypoint for passing east of Baginbun Head is as follows.

Baginbun Head - clear water waypoint: 52° 10.450’N, 006° 49.244’W

This waypoint, or further east of it, will keep a vessel clear of the extending rocks from the headland.

Slade Harbour as seen from the southwest with Baginbun Head in the distance
Image: Michael Harpur

Approximately halfway between Hook Head and Baginbun Head, just under a mile east by north of the small drying harbour of Slade Click to view haven, with its notable square tower. With northwest winds, a sailing vessel may anchor off the village in Slade Bay or dry in the harbour.

The coast from Bannow Bay to Hook Point is of moderate elevation. Working up between Baginbun Point and the Hook, be careful to avoid Brecaun Bridge. It is a reef extending from the southeastern coast of the Hook, about 2 miles east-northeastward from the lighthouse. The reef extends a ⅓ of a mile offshore, with a depth of 1.2 metres at its extremity.

Brecaun Bridge seen just breaking
Image: Michael Harpur

With this exception, the rest of the coast is free from danger. If the eastern stream is running, which it continues to do until four hours after high water by the shore, make short tacks along the land, where there is an eddy as far as Hook Point. To clear it, keep Forth Mountain open of Baginbun Point, bearing 048°T, or Hook Lighthouse bearing westward of 233° T.

Passing south of Hook Head Lighthouse
Image: Burke Corbett

The westernmost extreme of the Wexford coastline, Hook Point, is a long and narrow low-lying peninsula that terminates in a shelving point where the legendary Hook Head lighthouse stands.

Hook Head Lighthouse - Fl 3s 46m 24M position: 52° 07.300’N, 006° 55.700’W

Between Hook Head and Swines Head four miles, west-northwest resides the entrance to Waterford Harbour. This is formed by the estuaries of the River Suir and the River Barrow, which join in a position about 10 miles above the entrance. The estuary offers a host of berthing opportunities in perfect security.

Hook Head lighthouse with the entrance to the Waterford Harbour in the backdrop
Photo: Tourism Ireland

Seaward approaches, along with the run-up the harbour, are covered in the Port of Waterford Click to view haven entry.
Please note

Under conditions of strong west winds, and particularly between about 2 hours before to 2 hours after High Water Dover, it is advisable to keep more than a mile south of Hook Head in order to avoid the Tower Race



Dunmore East
Image: Michael Harpur

Passing over the mouth of the harbour the western shore of the entrance will be found to be high and bold, and dotted with numerous houses. The steeples, light tower and harbour wall of Dunmore East Click to view haven, a busy and picturesque fishing port, can be seen at the western entrance to Waterford Harbour. The high shores of the County Waterford will be seen terminating to the eastward at Credan Head Click to view haven 2.5 miles to the northeast.

Between the entrance to Waterford Harbour and Tramore Bay, the coast is bold and clear of danger. There are just a couple of noteworthy points. The drying half-tide Falskirt Rock, 400 metres off Swines Head, at the entrance to Waterford Harbour, requires particular attention. Half a mile or more offshore here clears all dangers. The Swede Patch, near Brownstown Head, with 2.7 metres of cover, is of little issue to leisure craft.

The Metal Man standing on one of three pillars upon Great Newtown Head
Image: murphfishing External link

Between the high and bold west and eastern shores of Brownstown Head and Great Newtown Head is the wide and sandy Tramore Bay. It’s eastern limit Brownstown Head has two dark brick towers. However, 2½ miles across the bay, upon its western limit, Great Newtown Head’s markers are even more noteworthy. The 44 metres high headland of Great Newtown Head is readily distinguished by three white towers upon its summit. One of the towers features a colossal figure of a man, known as Metal Man, dressed in British sailors clothes, a blue jacket, red top and white trousers with his left arm extended in the direction of Waterford Harbour to the east.

Great Newtown Head with Brownstown Head and its sister towers in the backdrop
Image: Connor Sweeney External link

The purpose of Tramore Bay’s extensive markings that were erected in 1823 was to readily distinguish it from the entrance to Waterford Harbour. The low sandy beach at the head of Tramore Bay, lying in front of the submerged lands of the Back Strand, gives it the appearance of an estuary. In hazy weather, many a 19th-century sailing vessel made that mistake and, for many, it proved fatal. Prevailing south westerly's makes Tramore shallow bay a lee shore that, along with poor ground holding, left little to halt the inevitable.

Image: Eirial Photography External link

The popular seaside town of Tramore is situated on the northwestern shore of the bay and is highly conspicuous from seaward. A small drying boat harbour is on the western shore a ⅓ of a mile from the town and 1 mile northward of Great Newton Head. Landing can be effected here in moderate weather, but with the extensive bay is wide open to the southwest and it offers no shelter from the prevailing winds.

Waterford's Copper Coast
Image: Tourism Ireland

Between Great Newtown Head and Dungarvan Bay, for a distance of 12 miles, the coast is largely characterised by precipitous sea cliffs, groups of stacks, caves, arches and storm beaches that provide much visual interest. It is fringed by detached masses of rock, with occasional islets and inlets that are clear of outlying dangers but there is limited shelter to be had for this run save for during moderate offshore winds.

Tra na mBó beach close to Bunmahon on the Copper Coast
Image: Public Domain

This length of coast is now a UNESCO recognised Geopark, with records of Palaeozoic volcanos and the last ice age and is known as the Copper Coast. It has taken on this name because the rock is mostly red sandstone or conglomerate, and the coast has a history of copper mining in the 1800s.

Burke and Sheep Islands are clusters of bold rocky islets, lying about 1¾ miles to 2½ miles to the west of Great Newtown Head, and extending ½ a mile from the shore. They are clear of outlying dangers.

Boatstrand Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur

About 2½ miles to the west of Burke and Sheep Islands and on the northeast side of Dunabrattin Headis the small artificial Boatstrand Harbour Click to view haven. The tidal harbour dries out entirely to its east-facing entrance and during settled conditions or offshore winds, it is possible to anchor off the entrance to the harbour in depths of 3 to 5 metres.

Engine houses and tall chimneys near Bunmahon are conspicuous from seaward
Image: Tourism Ireland

Seven miles to the west of Great Newtown Head is Bunmahon Bay. It is a slight coastal indentation where the Mahon River, which has its source eastward of Croughaun Hill, some 7 miles inland, discharges into the sea. Bunmahon Bay does not afford safe anchorage but the buildings and tall stacks in the Bunmahon Village are conspicuous from offshore.

Stradbally Cove
Image: Michael Harpur

The 68 meters high Ballyvoyle Head is 5 miles west-southwest of Bunmahon. It can be distinguished by the ruins of the square tower and Clonea Castle that stands close north of the headland. 1½ northeastward of the head is the inlet of Stradbally Cove Click to view haven. Stradbally Cove is a shallow secluded cove where the River Tay falls into the sea and during offshore or very settled conditions a temporary anchorage may be available.

Helvick Head as seen from the northeast
Image: Michael Harpur

Three miles southwest, between Helvick Head on the south and Ballynacourty Point, resides Dungarvan Bay. Viewed at high water, the bay presents a large expanse of which the greater part uncovers and the remainder is shallow. Ballynacourty Point is made conspicuous by the white tower of Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse.

Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse - Fl (2) WRG 10s position: 52° 04.688’N, 007° 33.182’W

Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse standing on the northern entrance to Dungarvan

Image: Michael Harpur

Dungarvan Bay, within a line joining the Gainers to Ballinacourty Point, has depths of less than 5.5 metres, shoaling gradually to the shore. Near the point is the bar, over which, at a distance of 200 metres from the shore within the point, there is a depth of about 1.8 metres least water. Within it, the water deepens up to and between Deadman Sand and Wyse Point, westward of which is The Pool where there is a traditional tide wait anchorage and the tidal Ballynacourty Pier Click to view haven where it is possible to land. The shallow spit extending southeastward of Deadman Sand has a depth of about 1.2 metres and forms the south side of the bar.

The landing 19th-century pier at Ballynacourty (The Pool)
Image: John Hughes via CC BY 2.0

A narrow well-marked channel along the northern side of the bay, from Wyse's Point to Abbey Point, leads into Dungarvan Click to view haven town quay located about 2.2 miles west of the entrance.

Dungarvan Harbour situated in the northwest end of Dungarvan Bay
Image: Michael Harpur

The channel has a least depth of 0.2 metres LWS over the bar and requires a flood tide for access. Using the tide however the channel can admit vessels with draughts in excess of three metres to the quays. The leading Wyse’s Point channel marker can be found approximately ½ a mile west from Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse.

Wyse - Port Red Can Buoy FL. R. 5s position: 52° 04.719’N, 007° 33.971’W

Carricknamoan as seen when passing between it and Carrickapane
Image: Burke Corbett

Half a mile eastward of Ballynacourty Point is Carricknamoan Rock. This is a 1-metre high flat-topped rock with a surrounding rocky patch. A reef called Caricknagaddy, nearly all uncovered at low water, extends ½ a mile from the point in a south-easterly direction, terminating in Carricknamoan. The direction of this reef is indicated by the sector of green light of the lighthouse. When approaching the bay it may be more than difficult to pick out Carricknamoan from the shoreline behind. At deck level, the low-lying reef appears all as one.

Carrickapane as seen when passing between it and Carricknamoan
Image: Burke Corbett

Central to the entrance of Dungarvan Bay is Carrickapane Rock. Locally known as Black Rock, it is a clearly visible 2.0 metres high rock that sticks up in all conditions. A sunken rocky ledge of 1.1 to 1.7 metres of cover extends 200 metres from it in a west-by-south direction. On other parts of Carrickapane, it is largely steep-to.

Carrickapane or Black Rock – unmarked position: 52° 04.000’N, 007° 32.000’W

Carrickapane, the East Cardinal and Helvick Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur

Half a mile south by southeast of Carrickapane is Helvick Rock that has 1.4 metres of water. This is marked by the Helvick east cardinal buoy situated 400 metres to the east of the rock.

Helvick – East cardinal Q (3) 10s position: 52° 03.611’N, 007° 32.251’W

The Helvick marker also assists in positioning The Gainers situated about a ⅓ of a mile west-northwest of Helvick Rock. This is a rocky shoal that uncovers at low water. To the west of these rocks, the bay is entirely choked with sand-banks.

Helvick Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur

Steep and bluff, Helvick Head is 67 metres high with a white watch-house standing upon its summit. On the north side of the head, some conspicuous whitewashed cottages will be seen, with a building resembling a tower at their eastern end. Helvick Pier Click to view haven is a small fishing harbour situated in the south part of Dungarvan Bay and on the north side of Helvick Head. The harbour is located ⅓ of a mile west of the extremity if the headland and consists of a curved L-shaped plan breakwater with a west-facing entrance. It provides a good passage anchorage outside of its entrance where there is the option of also picking up seasonal moorings.


Between Helvick Head and Mine Head the coast retains its bold and elevated character. Inland to the north by northwest, the sharp peaks of the Knockmealdown Mountains will be seen. About 10 and 12 miles east, respectively, of these mountains are the long ridges of the Monavullagh Mountains and the Comeragh Mountains. These ranges are visible everywhere off the coast between Cork and Waterford in clear weather.

Mine Head Lighthouse and its two outlying rocks
Image: Richard Creamer External link

Four miles southwest of Helvick is Mine Head. This is a bold precipitous headland 78 metres high, and steep-to, and is easily identified by its circular tower, white with a black band, lighthouse standing near the edge of the cliff.

Mine Head – Lighthouse Fl (4) 30s 87m 20M position: 51°59.556'N, 007°35.225'W

There are two outlying rocks in the vicinity of Mine Head. A ⅓ of a mile to the eastward of the head is the above-water Rogue Rock. The Rogue resides a ¼ of a mile from the shore, is 2.7 metres above high water, and steep-to to seaward. The rock is connected with the shore by a ridge of half-tide rocks. The westernmost, covered at high water, is called the Longship Rock. Longship Rock resides 1 mile to the west of the head, and 400 metres out from the shore.

Ardmore's fine and complete round tower
Image: Vadrefjord via CC BY-SA 4.0

Close north of Ram Head, to the north-east of Ardmore Head, is Ardmore Bay. The bay is open and exposed, but clear of danger, and shoals gradually to the shore. Black Rocks, that form the north boundary of the bay, uncover to the distance of 400 metres from the shore.

The small pier and slip in Ardmore Bay
Image: Michael Harpur

At its head is Ardmore is a small historic village overlooked by the ruins of a cathedral and a conspicuous 12th-century Round Tower situated on the slope of a hill to the southwest of the village. Ardmore Click to view haven is primarily a seaside resort but it has a slip protected by two breakwaters at its head that has recently seen some significant development. The pier lacks any depth of water and is primarily used to protect landings and to enable a handful of small local open fishing boats to be hauled clear of the water. The bay, however, offers an anchorage in settled conditions and the local hotel provides seasonal visitor moorings.

Ram Head as seen from the south
Image: Burke Corbett

Between Ardmore Bay and Youghal Bay the coast is high, bold, precipitous and free from outlying danger. Youghal Bay lies between Ram Head and Capel Island, about 7 miles to the southwest, with some moderately deep dangers and little shelter. The north shore of Youghal Bay is of moderate elevation, and free from danger, terminating to the eastward in Ram Head, which is also distinguished by an old telegraph tower. 100 metres southeast of the head there is a rock with 1.5 metres of water, and steep-to. Although the general character of the Youghal Bay is foul and rocky, the north shore has a tract of sandy ground, extending from a ½ to 1½ miles off.

Knockadoon Head and Capel Island with Ram Head in the backdrop
Image: John Finn

With offshore winds and in moderate weather it is possible to anchor to wait for tide on the south side of the bay. With northerly winds vessels may anchor ½ a mile offshore from Whiting Bay in 10 or 12 metres where a sandy bottom will be found. But with the wind anywhere onshore, or in unsettled weather, it is advisable for a leisure craft to pass Youghal Bay.

Image: Michael Harpur

Youghal Harbour Click to view haven, located at the head of the bay in the mouth of the River Blackwater, offers complete protection. The approach to the harbour is encumbered by a central bay rock and a ledge, which are marked by buoys, and a sand bar. 'The Bar' is moderately deep with as little as 1.5 metres LAT of water over it and is composed of sand. It sweeps around the entrance of the harbour in the form of a horseshoe about ½ to 1½ miles outside the entrance to the harbour.

Youghal on the west bank the estuary of the Blackwater River
Image: John Finn

On the outer edge of the bay, Black Ball Ledge has 3.4 metres low water over it and is more of a concern for deepwater commercial shipping approaching at low water. This is marked by an east cardinal.

Blackball – East Cardinal Q (3) 10s position: 51° 55.334'N, 007° 48.529'W

Half a mile west of Black Ball Ledge is the Bar Rocks, with 0.6 metres over them at low water. They consist of three irregular patches extending 800 metres in length, and 100 metres wide.

Bar Rocks – South Cardinal Q (6) + LFl 15s position: 51° 54.855'N, 007° 50.053'W

At the head of the Youghal Bay The Bar, composed of sand, with as little as 1.5 metres of water over it, sweeps round the entrance of the harbour between East Point and Molly Goggin’s Corner, in the form of a horse-shoe. There are two channels over it in use, known as the East and West Bars.

Youghal sectored light situated on the western side of the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur

Both channels are supported at night by a sectored light exhibited from a light tower situated on the western side of the entrance.

Youghal - Fl WR 2.5s 24m 17/13M position 51° 56.571'N, 007° 50.535'W

The light sectors are as follows; White 183°-273° (90°).Red 273°-295° (22°).White 295°-307° (12°). Red 307°-351° (44°). White 351°-003° (12°)

The entrance to Youghal Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur

The east channel, running closely along the north shore, is considered the best channel as it is the deeper of the two with a least charted depth of 2.8 metres. Stay in the channel however as a shallow 1.8 metres section lies immediately south of the channel a mile to the south-west of the East Point. Youghal Harbour’s entrance is easily recognised in the daytime by the opening between its high, bluff shores.

Inshore, 1½ miles to the northwest of Capel Island, are Black Rocks, on the outer edge of the extensive strand that covers the bay's western shore. Black Rocks uncover at three and a half hours ebb, and dry to 1.8 metres. They are quite out of the track of vessels going into Youghal Harbour but should be noted for shallow vessels operating close inshore. The western shore continues shallow with a foul rocky bottom from this up to the Bar.

Knockadoon Head
Image: Michael Harpur

The extreme point of the mainland on the bay's southern reaches is Knockadoon Head. A square Napoleonic tower stands on the head and is highly prominent.

Capel Island with Knockadoon Head in the backdrop The western extremity of
Youghal Bay

Image: John Finn

About ½ mile east of Knockadoon Head is the rocky, precipitous, and bold-to Capel Island. On its summit, at 37.5 metres high, is the base of an unfinished light tower that positively identifies it. A sound, with at least 4.6 metres of water, separates the island from Knockadoon Head.

Capel Island - Beacon position: 51° 52.927'N, 007° 51.131'W

Rocky ledges from both shores of the sound contract the channel to about 200 metres wide. Tidal current run through the sound with considerable force, occasioning overfalls, which gives it a dangerous appearance. It is, however, sometimes used by local boats but not recommended for a stranger.

Knockadoon Slip situated on the north side of Knockadoon Head
Image: Michael Harpur

Sound Rock, with 2.4 metres of water, lies about ½ a mile northwestward from Cape Island Tower. About a ½ mile west by northwest of the Capel Island is Knockadoon Slip Click to view haven with its breakwater and slips and a small hamlet above.

Knockadoon Slip overlooking Youghal Bay
Image: Michael Harpur

It provides a good passage anchorage or tide wait location for Youghal Harbour with a convenient landing point. The western shore then continues shallow with a foul rocky bottom up to the bar of Youghal Harbour.


The black circular Ballycotton Light on the summit of Ballycotton Island
Image: John Finn

About 5½ miles west of Knockadoon Head is Ballycotton Bay. It affords good shelter in westerly and southwesterly winds. The soundings are regular and shoal gradually from 18 and 20 metres north of the lighthouse to 5 metres at ½ a mile's distance from the western shore. The bottom is made up of sand over mud with clay and has good holding ground. When there is any westing in the wind very little sea comes in between the islands, even at high water. But with the wind from the eastward of south a heavy sea rolls in. Tidal streams are negligible in the bay but runs with some force around Ballycotton Island, and through the sound.

Ballycotton Harbour extending northward from Ballycotton Point
Image: Michael Harpur

The small fishing boat harbour of Ballycotton Click to view haven lies on the north side of the extreme point of the western mainland about 6 miles west by southwest of Knockadoon Head. It dries at low water and is subject to a heavy ground swell in southerly winds. An anchorage may be had outside Ballycotton Harbour.

Ballycotton Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland

The harbour is approached through Ballycotton Bay that is sheltered to the south by two islands. The 50 metres high and bold-to outer Ballycotton Island, that is distinguished by its lighthouse, a 15-metre high black tower enclosed in white walls that stands on its summit. The inner or small island is connected to the mainland by a drying ridge.

Ballycotton Lighthouse - Fl WR 10s position: 51° 49.522’N, 007° 59.169’W

Passing to the north of Ballycotton Island
Image: Burke Corbett

The inner or small island lies between it and the shore. It is connected to the mainland by a bed of rocks that uncovers on the last quarter ebb. There is a channel between the islands called Ballycotton Sound that is a ¼ of a mile wide, that is obstructed by Sound Rock which shows its head at low water.

Ballycotton Sound between the inner and outer islands
Image: Michael Harpur

The passage is to the eastward of the rock, between it and the outer island, 150 metres wide, with 4 metres of water. It is recommended that newcomers should not take this cut and go around the seaward side of the island when arriving or departing from Ballycotton Harbour.

The coast extending westward from Ballycotton to Power Head
Image: Michael Harpur

From Ballycotton Island to Power Head the coast is high and precipitous but foul for some distance. It should not be approached to depths of less than 20 metres of water.

The Smiths Buoy nearly a mile and a half southwest of Ballycotton Island
Image: Burke Corbett

Three rocks, called The Smiths reside 1.5 miles south-west of Ballycotton Island about 0.8 of a mile offshore. They consist of three distinct pinnacles disposed in the form of a triangle, about 100 metres from each other. One of these uncovers on spring tides, at which time, the others have respectively, 0.9 and 1.5 metres of water over them. They rise from a small rocky base, carrying over it from 4 to 4.5 metres and are steep-to to the south. They are marked by a lighted buoy to the south-west.

The Smiths – Red Buoy Fl (3) R 10s position: 51°48.615'N, 008°00.726'W

A further small patch called Wheat Rock resides between The Smiths and the shore, nearly ½ a mile north-west of the former, with 8 to 9 metres distance between them. The Wheat Rock dries on last quarter ebb. A clearing marks can be had by keeping Capel Island, open south of Ballycotton Island, bearing 055°T, leads southward of the Smiths and Wheat Rocks.

The view southwestward from The Smiths
Image: Burke Corbett

Five miles to the west of Ballycotton Island is the open Ballycroneen Bay that offers no shelter. Near the middle of it is the little village of Ballycroneen and a sandy beach extends to the westward from the village. Opposite the centre of the beach, and distant a ⅓ of a mile from it, there is a pinnacle rock with only 1.8 metres over it, and 6 to 8 metres 200 metres distance around it. The bottom throughout the bay is foul.

Power Head
Image: John Finn

Power Head lies 7¼ miles eastward of Ballycotton Island and 3 miles to the east by southeast of the entrance of Cork Harbour. High and precipitous with an old signal station standing upon its head it has a radio tower 125 metres in elevation that stands about 1.2 miles north of it. The headland is foul to some distance with the Hawk Rock, with 2.7 metres of water over it, 400 metres off of its shore. More importantly is the Quarry Rock, with awash at LAT located 300 metres out to the southeast from Power Head.

Just under two miles southeast of Power Head is Pollock Rock that is more of a concern for commercial shipping having a LAT of 7.5 metres and it is marked by a lighted buoy.

Pollock – Red Buoy Fl R 6s position: 51°46.239'N, 008°07.876'W

The ground around Pollock Rock, and between it and the shore, is rocky and uneven. A further south cardinal marker situated a mile to the south-east marks the southern edge of the Pollock ridge.

Power – South Cardinal Q (6) + LFl 15s position: 51°45.595'N, 008°06.679'W

Leisure vessels may pass north of the rock, where depths of 11 to 12.8 metres will be found. But care should be taken to keep clear of the shoals and rocks lying close off Power Head. The headland is best not approached into depths of less than 20 metres.

Between Power Head and Roche’s Point, the bottom near the shore is foul and rocky and must be approached with caution. Powerhead Bay on the west side of the head has a clean shingle beach and gas pipelines from Kinsale Head Gas Field land here so leisure craft are advised to keep away.

Cork Sea Buoy with the Cork Harbour entrance five miles northward
Image: Burke Corbett

The Cork Sea Buoy is moored 5 miles south of the entrance to Cork Harbour.

Cork Sea Buoy – LFl 10s position: 51°42.935'N, 008°15.601'W

Cork's extensive natural harbour can accommodate the largest of vessels
Image: John Finn

Moulded into the lower reaches of the River Lee, Cork Harbour lies between Cork Head on the west side and Power Head to the east. Reportedly the second largest natural harbour in the world and Ireland's second-largest port, it is one of the most secure and easily accessed harbours in Ireland. Having the separate ports of Cork, Cobh, Whitegate and Ringaskiddy, within its confines, it is the principal south coast commercial harbour and a key centre for leisure craft sailing. The harbour offers a host of berthing opportunities with shelter from all winds and seas. Ireland’s second-largest city, Cork, is situated on both sides of the river about fifteen miles above the entrance.

Cruise Liner visiting Cork Harbour
Image: John Finn

The principal features that first present themselves to a vessel approaching Cork Harbour from seaward are the high bluffs of Dogsnose on the east side of the entrance, and Ram’s Head, about 0.6 miles north of Weaver’s Point, on the entrance’s western side. On the summit of the Dogsnose, where Fort Carlisle, renamed Fort Davis, will be seen with a notable double-wall immediately east, running down the face of the hill to the sea.

Fort Meagher (left) and Fort Davis (right) as seen over White Bay from the

Image: Michael Harpur

Fort Camden, renamed Fort Meagher, faces Fort Davis will be also seen on opposite sides of the harbour entrance on the summit of Ram’s Head. One mile south by south-west of Fort Meagher the ruined Templebreedy Abbey, with a spire, stands on high land and a notable water tower, with a radio mast, will be seen close north of it the Abbey.

Roche's Point Lighthouse situated at the entrance to Cork Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur

Upon a closer approach, Roche’s Point Light, the disused signal towers and Roche’s Tower, about 410 meters to the east, comes into view. The entrance to the harbour lies 0.8 of a mile south of the forts, between Roche’s Point and Weaver’s Point. The surrounding land on each side of the entrance is relatively low. A light is shown from Roche’s Point. Upon rounding Roche’s Point the entrance to the harbour opens, and the entrance channel is well marked by lighted buoys.

Roche’s Point - Fl WR 3s position: 51° 47.586'N, 008° 15.287'W

Roche’s Point light sectors are as follows: (Red. Vis.) Red shore-292°. White 292°-016° (84°).Red 016°-033° (17°).White (unintensified) 033°-159° (126°). R 159°-shore.

The run up the harbour and its various berthing opportunities are listed in the Cork City Marina Click to view haven entry. Vessels continuing westbound Route location may avail of the ‘Cork Harbour to Mizen Head’ description also available in Routes.
What is the best sailing time?
May to September is the traditional Irish Sailing season with June-July offering the best weather. June and July’s statistical incidence of strong winds are however two days of winds up to force seven. As such, depending on personal sailing preferences, a vessel may expect to be held-up or enjoy robust sailing conditions. 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 been a security issue known to have occurred sailing off the Irish coast.

With thanks to:
eOceanic with the help of Burke Corbett.

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