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Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay

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What is the route?
This is the primary coastal description and set of waypoints for the area between the entrance to Strangford Lough and Dublin Bay. 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 north to south or coastal clockwise as follows:

  • • Close east of Dundrum Bay

  • • Close east of the entrance to Carlingford Lough

  • • Close east of the Skerries

  • • Inside Lambay

  • • Close east of Ben of Howth
The preceding northeast coast's set of waypoints and coastal description is available by clicking 'Previous', above, and vessels planning on continuing southwards, past Dublin and beyond, can find the following sets of waypoints and coastal descriptions by clicking 'Next'.

Why sail this route?
This is a coastal sequence for cruisers who want to stay in inshore waters to enjoy the coastal scenery, its calmer seas and drop into the many listed passage havens described along the way.

Those intent upon making a fast passage will find the Bangor to Dublin Route location , either way, with 12 hours of a favourable tide, offers a better plan for this length of the coast.

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 70 miles of coast between Strangford Lough and Dublin Bay has comparatively few dangers when compared to other Irish coastal stretches. Rockabill, the Skerries and Lambay are the only deep water off-lying obstructions that require any consideration.


The complete course is 66.31 miles from the waypoint '1 mile south of the Strangford Light Float' to '¼ a mile east Dublin Bay buoy' tending in a south south westerly direction (reciprocal north north easterly).

1 mile south of the Strangford Light Float, 54° 17.550' N, 005° 28.680' W
The Strangford Lough Marker Light Float approach marker, LFl 10s, is situated a mile and a half to the southeast of Ballyquintin Point. It is on the bearing of 323.7° T of Angus Rock Lighthouse (2.9 miles with the entrance to Strangford Lough) used for entering The Narrows.

       Next waypoint: 6.63 miles, course 233.54°T (reciprocal 53.54°T)

1 mile east of St John’s Point Light, 54° 13.605' N, 005° 37.800' W
The prominent 40-metre high Saint John’s Point Lighthouse, Q(2) 7.5s (Red. Vis.), stands on the southeast side of Saint John’s Point, a low promontory that makes up the east entrance point of Dundrum Bay.

       Next waypoint: 18.73 miles, course 225.07°T (reciprocal 45.07°T)

1 mile east of Hellyhunter South Cardinal, 54° 0.351' N, 006° 0.350' W
Hellyhunter South Cardinal Q (6) + LFl 15s moored about 1.5 miles southeast of Cranfield Point at the entrance to Carlingford Lough. It marks Hellyhunter Rock, with 1.5 metres of water, located 1.2 miles east by south from the point.

       Next waypoint: 25.28 miles, course 184.16°T (reciprocal 4.16°T)

½ a mile east of The Skerries' St. Patrick’s Island, 53° 35.150' N, 006° 3.440' W
St. Patrick’s, the outermost island of The Skerries group, is distinguished by the ruins of a church on its southwest end.

       Next waypoint: 5.80 miles, course 181.88°T (reciprocal 1.88°T)

¾ of a mile west of the Burren Rock Beacon Lambay Island, 53° 29.353' N, 006° 3.760' W
The Burren Rocks Beacon Fl G5s, is a starboard beacon situated 400 metres west of the westernmost point of Lambay Island. It marks a reef, that uncovers on last quarter of the ebb, that extends out from the island.

       Next waypoint: 6.36 miles, course 169.67°T (reciprocal 349.67°T)

½ a mile east of the Nose of Howth, 53° 23.100' N, 006° 1.850' W
Nose of Howth is the northeast corner of the Ben of Howth, a peninsula dominating the northeast side of Dublin Bay.

       Next waypoint: 1.50 miles, course 200.22°T (reciprocal 20.22°T)

¼ a mile east of Baily Lighthouse, 53° 21.690' N, 006° 2.720' W
The Baily Lighthouse, Fl 15s (Red. Vis.), stands on the southeast extremity of the Ben of Howth marking the northern point of the entrance to Dublin Bay.

       Next waypoint: 1.99 miles, course 206.74°T (reciprocal 26.74°T)

¼ a mile east Dublin Bay buoy, 53° 19.912' N, 006° 4.220' W
R/W Buoy Mo(A)10s Dublin Bay's central marker situated in the middle of the bay.


The highly attractive sailing destination of Strangford Lough is located nearly midway between Carlingford and Belfast loughs and is entered between Ballyquintin Point and Killard Point, 1.2 miles to the southwest. It provides cruisers with all-weather, all-tide shelter and at least seventy islands, along with many islets called pladdies, bays, coves, inlets and headlands to explore. It is thought to offer 60 square miles of the finest sheltered sailing in Ireland and a host of its sheltered anchorages Click to view haven are already covered.

The Narrows leads north-northwest for five miles into Strangford Lough where are available for cruising vessels, at all stages of the tide, in various parts of the entrance and the wider Lough itself. With maximum Spring tidal rates attaining 7.6 knots in The Narrows, timing is everything when it comes to entering Strangford Lough. The tidal window for an approach, or exit, along with its waypoints and pilotage, are separately covered in the Route Entering and exiting Strangford Lough Route location.

On the north shore is Ballyquintin Point that marks the southern extremity of the Ards Peninsula; the thumb of land that separates Strangford Lough from the Irish Sea. It is low and shelving, but further back, the Ballywhite Hills above PortaferryClick to view haven , are high and conspicuous, attaining an elevation of 99 metres. Tara Hill, with a prominent old fort on its summit, stands 1½ miles to the north of the point.

In the middle of the entrance is Angus Rock, about ½ a mile long and 200 metres wide, of which the greater part uncovers at low water. Upon it stands the Angus Rock Lighthouse, a white tower with a red top.

Angus Rock Lighthouse - Fl. R. 5s 15m 6M position: 54° 19.843’N, 005° 31.520’W

On the southern side of the entrance, is Killard Point located about 1.2 miles northeast of Guns Island. Surrounded by a rocky foreshore it is of moderate elevation and backed by high hills. The Craiglewey Rocks extend in a south-southwest direction from it for more than 600 metres. Likewise to the north of the point, a rocky foreshore, with foul ground beyond, extends 500 metres to the north.

600 metres to the southeast of Killard Point is St. Patrick’s Rock. Steep-to all-round, it is covered at 4 hours flood, when its position is marked by a red beacon (that is unlit at night).

St. Patrick's Rocks - Red Beacon position: 54° 18.584’N, 005° 30.937’W

The Strangford Lough Marker Light Float marker is situated a 1½ to the southeast of Ballyquintin Point.

Strangford Light Float - LFl 10s position: 54° 18.626’N, 005° 28.689’W

From Guns Island to the southwest, as far as Ardglass, the coast is a bold rocky shore, of moderate elevation. It is free from danger with depths in excess of 10 metres for 400 metres off the shoreline. Guns Island is connected with the main at low water by a gravelly bank and is well marked on its south end by a white square 7 metres high obelisk with a red can topmark. A conspicuous 24 metres high water tower stands on the mainland.

The busy fishing harbour of Ardglass Click to view haven, that includes the Phennick Cove Marina is approximately a mile to the eastward of Ringfad Point. The promontory of Ringfad, between Killough and Ardglass, is distinguished by a conical hill surmounted by a tower, which, as well as Ardglass church steeple, serves to point out the harbour. There are several old castles in the neighbourhood, three of which are in the town. Phennick Point, on the east shore, is steep-to on its seaward side.

Just under a mile to the southwest of Ardglass, and 1½ miles to the northeast of Saint John’s Point, between Ringfad Point and Ringsallagh (or Corbet Head), is Killough Bay Click to view haven. The bay has many rocks and a drying harbour that is used by a handful of small open fishing vessels. The Water Rocks, in the outer part of the bay, are marked by a red mast, dry to 3 metres and only cover on last quarter of the flood. Further within the bay, these are the Little and Big Plates, and the Garter reef, all dry at low water. The rocky foreshore uncovers out to a distance of 300 metres in places.

Saint John’s Point is a low promontory that makes up the east entrance point of Dundrum Bay. The prominent 40-metre high tower of St. John's Point Lighthouse stands on the southeast side of the point.

Saint John’s Point Lighthouse - Q(2) 7.5s 37m 25M position: 54° 13.605’N, 005° 39.611’W

Saint John’s Point is moderately steep-to with more than five metres 400 metres to the south of it.

Between and St. John’s Point and Mullartown Point, bearing west by south and east by north from each other, is Dundrum Bay. It is 10 miles wide and nearly 5 miles deep. There is 25 metres of water between the points of the bay that decreases to 5 to 7 metres one mile from its shores and the shoreline is shallow everywhere. The Mourne Mountains skirt the western shore. Slieve Donard, their highest peak, rises within the distance of 1½ miles from the beach, to the height of 848 metres, and is a very imposing feature. Of the interior mountains Slieve Croob, rising to a height of 534 metres, is conspicuous from all parts of the bay.

The northern shore of the bay is composed of sand-hills, which about the middle of the bay are penetrated by a narrow channel leading to the harbour of Dundrum Click to view haven. The eastern shore is formed by the low promontory of St. John’s Point, with a lighthouse at its extremity. The west shoreline continues foul and rocky for more than 2 miles to the north of Mullartown Point.

The rock of Craigalea stands conspicuously on the sandy shore near the middle of the bay, almost 5 miles to the east by north from Newcastle. A little to the eastward of Craigalea, a reef extends for more than a mile from the shore.

This terminates in the Cow and Calf rocks, that barely cover at high-water spring tides, and form a useful mark for the extremity of the reef. The coast from Craigalea to St. John’s Point forms several indentations and rocky points.

1.8 miles north of Mullartown Point and 600 metres from the shore is Roaring Rock that dries at low water. To the north of this, it is clear of danger, but as Newcastle Harbour Click to view haven is approached, at the foot of the mountains, in the western corner of the bay, it becomes shallow, with not more than 5 metres of water ½ a mile from the pier.

Between Dundrum Bay and Cranfield Point, on the northern entrance to Lough Carlingford, about 13 miles to the northeast, the coast is for the most part composed of low ranges of clay cliffs with foreshores of rocks and boulders. It is entirely backed by the lofty summits of the Mourne Mountains. Prominent amongst these are the 631 meters high Eagle Mountain that rise about 7 miles north of Cranfield Point. Plus, 6.7 miles east-northeast of Eagle Mountain, the 848 metres high Slieve Donard, the group's highest and most conspicuous peak.

¾ of a mile south by southwest of Mullartown Point resides Annalong Harbour Click to view haven, dry at three-quarters ebb.

About 3¾ miles to the southwest is Lee Stone Point, a low point with a huge granite boulder at its extremity. A mile to the west of Lee Stone Point the active fishing port of Kilkeel Click to view haven can be found.

From here the coastline runs west by south for about 4 miles to Cranfield Point. Vessels should keep at least two miles off or not venture into depths of less than 10 metres from Lee Stone Point to Cranfield. Between Lee Stone Point and Dundrum Bay cruising vessels maintain a distance of ¾ of a mile off the shoreline will clear all dangers.


Carlingford Lough as seen from the northwest end of the Lough above Warrenpoint
Image: Tourism Ireland

Yachts visiting Carlingford Lough will find a wide range of berthing opportunities Click to view haven which includes a marina with ample visitor berths.

Carlingford Marina on the southern shore of Carlingford Lough
Image: Tourism Ireland

Carlingford Lough is a sunken inlet that, from the entrance to Warrenpoint at the mouth of Newry River, is 8 miles long in a west-northwesterly direction, with a breadth varying from 1 to 2 miles. Between the entrance and Carlingford, the Lough is much obstructed by shoals, and which extend nearly across it, with channels between. A deep water shipping channel that runs the entire length of the Lough to the port of Warrenpoint that may be used at all stages of the tide and in all reasonable conditions. Its entrance resides between Ballagan Point and Cranfield Point, 2 miles to the northeast, and in the centre stands the 34-metre high grey granite Haulbowline Lighthouse.

Haulbowline Lighthouse - Fl (3) W10s 17M position: 54° 01.196’N, 006° 04.740’W

Haulbowline Lighthouse at the entrance to Carlingford Lough
Image: Graham Rabbits

Haulbowline Rock, upon which the lighthouse stands, covers during the first quarter of the flood. The channel to the Lough is to the eastward of it. Out to 3.2 miles to the southeast from the Haulbowline Lighthouse is the Carlingford marker buoy.

Carlingford Buoy - Fl 10s position: 53° 58.759'N, 006° 01.111’W

The ingress is easily identified by the low entrance being framed between the Cooley Mountains and the Mountains of Mourne appearing in the upper part of the Lough ranging from 300 to 600 metres in height. Directions provided for Warrenpoint Click to view haven provide approach details and outlines the run up the lough.

The channel into Carlingford Lough within Haulbowline Lighthouse
Image: Auris Photography

Vessels approaching Carlingford Lough from the north should pass outside the South Cardinal Hellyhunter Buoy situated a ½ mile south of Hellyhunter Rock. This buoy is situated about 1½ miles southeast of Cranfield Point the north-western side of the entrance to Carlingford Lough.

Hellyhunter South Cardinal - Q (6) + LFl 15s position: 54° 00.351'N 006° 02.052’W

Hellyhunter South Cardinal
Image: Graham Rabbits
Hellyhunter Rock is charted as having 1.4 metres of cover, a recent survey has shown that it has as little as 0.3 metres over it. It sits on the outer edge of a shoal group situated 1.2 miles east by south from Cranfield Point. Cranfield Point also has the drying Nelly Pladdy group 600 metres from the shore.

In settled conditions, there is a cut available between the Hellyhunter Rock and its shoal area plus the foul ground that extends to the southeast of Cranfield Point. This includes a previously uncharted rock recently discovered with a LAT of 0.4 metres, 800 metres northwest of Hellyhunter Rock. The cut passes between this uncharted rock and Hellyhunter Rock about half a mile offshore with a least depth of three metres. Keep the No.1 Channel Buoy over Ballagan Point on about 240°T. If the bearing to No. 1 starts to move towards 250° and depths start to reduce to 2 metres, turn inshore.

Likewise Ballagan Point, upon the southern side of the entrance, is surrounded with foul ground with Ballagan Spit extending east for a mile. A little within the entrance is a reef of Limestone Rocks that extend across the entrance to Haulbowline Lighthouse, some of these uncover at half-ebb, and others dry to 2.1 metres at low water, and all forming a natural breakwater to the Lough within.

Ballagan Point should be entirely avoided as it is surrounded with foul ground with the Ballagan Spit extending east for a mile. The end of Ballagan Spit that approaches the Hoskyn Channel has recently been surveyed and found to have 0.4 metres of cover as opposed to the charted 1.8 metres. Once past Ballagan Spit it is safe to cut to the No.1 Mark.

There is a southern cut into the Haulbowline Lighthouse via the Hoskyn Channel. Named after Richard Hoskyn, who surveyed the Lough in 1857, this channel passes along the seaward side of foul ground between Haulbowline and Ballagan Point. It is entered about a mile to the southwest of the primary Carlingford Cut channel, between Ballagan Spit and The Breast that is charted to have a least depth of 1.8 metres but has been resurveyed now to have 0.6 and 1.3 metres. From here it dog-legs northward to lead between Haulbowline Rocks and Morgan Pladdy, charted to have 1.3 metres but has been recently revised to 0.3 metres, and joins the main entrance fairway to the east of the lighthouse. Its narrowest point is 200 metres wide and its least depth is 5.6 metres. Because it avoids the strongest of the tidal streams and provides a shortcut to and from the south many local boats may be seen using this channel. However, since the northern section of it runs across the tide, where exceedingly strong currents will be experienced, and the total absence of any marks make this highly inadvisable for the unfamiliar.
Please note

Best advice for a vessel approaching Carlingford Lough from the south is to pass outside the Imogene Buoy and to the Carlingford Lough Entrance Initial Fix close south of Hellyhunter South Cardinal.

Progress southwest, Dundalk Bay’s northern limit is Cooley Point with two beds of rocks extending from the shoreline.

Giles Quay with Cooley Point in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur

The westernmost of these, called the Castle Rocks, that runoff in a south by southwest direction from the west side of the point. These have 1.5 metres of cover at a distance of 1 mile from the point.

The other shoal is Imogene Rock, which extends from the east side of Cooley Point. This is a pinnacle rock with 0.3 of a metre of cover, ¾ of a mile to the southeast of the point. To the eastward of the Imogene Rock, there is an irregular rocky shoal, called the Ridge, with 4 and 7 metres of cover over it. To enable vessels to keep to the southward of all these rocks and shoals, the Imogene Buoy has been placed in 15 metres of water 1½ miles south by southeast of Cooley Point.

Imogene Buoy – Port hand Fl (2) R 10s position: 53° 57.415'N 006° 07.042’W

This places Imogene Rock nearly halfway between the buoy and the shore. It is advised that vessels entering or exiting Dundalk Bay should pass to the southward of the buoy.

Carlingford Mountains as seen over Annagassan pierhead
Image: Kent Wang via CC BY 2.0

Between Dunany Point and Cooley Point, about 8 miles to the northeast, is Dundalk Bay that is shallow throughout with less than 15 metres anywhere within its confines. The south and west sides of the bay are flat and relatively featureless but the north side is made up of an imposing ridge of mountains collectively referred to as Carlingford Mountains. Extensive reefs surround both points of entrance and midway between them is deep water of between 11 to 14 metres. From Giles Quay, situated on the northern shore, to beyond the small drying quay of Annagassan, on the southern shore, extensive sand-banks sweep around the bight of the bay uncovering at low water for a distance of up to 2 miles from the high-water line. The southern and western parts of the bay are also very shallow and rocky, with not more than 2 to 4 metres of water over a large space.

Giles Quay and the mountains of the Cooley Peninsula
Image: Michael Harpur

Towards the north shore and 1½ miles to the westward of Cooley Point, the bottom is clean sand. Soundings here decrease gradually to the head of the bay making it usable for anchoring with off-shore winds. The best place for this purpose is off Gyles Quay Click to view haven situated on the northern shore.

The Castletown River leading out to Dundalk Bay
Image: Michael Harpur

The Castletown River exits into the northwest corner of Dundalk Bay. Accessed through the narrow channel of the Castletown River is the county town of Louth and the small fishing and commercial port of Dundalk Click to view haven. The town and port are situated on the south side of the river, 4 miles within its estuary and 1500 metres southeast of Dundalk Bridge that marks the river’s navigational limit for sailing craft. Its drying industrial quays are used by cargo ships and fishing boats. Although less than visually attractive and not set up for leisure vessels, it is possible for vessels prepared to work the tide and take to the bottom to come alongside or raft up to a fishing vessel. Copious commercial channel markings and lights make access straightforward in moderate and all offshore winds.

George's Quay, Dundalk at low water
Image: Michael Harpur

The narrow channel to the quay dries to 0.9 metres LAT and George's Quay dries to 2.5 metres LAT. Having one of the highest tidal ranges on the east coast, MHWS 5.1m & MHWN 4.2m, the harbour will be easily navigable by leisure craft at half tide and above.

Dundalk Pile Light
Image: Mark Murray via CC BY-SA 2.0
Those making for Dundalk should locate the Dundalk Pile Light, a 10-metre high white house on green piles, that is situated at the mouth of the estuary.

Dundalk Pile Lighthouse - Fl WR 15s 10m 21M position: 53° 58.560’N, 006° 17.714’W

It provides a white sector, from 284°–313°T, that leads into Dundalk Bay between the dangers extending from Cooley Point, notably Castle Rocks and Imogene Rock, to the north off Cooley Point and Dunany Shoals on the south side and. The former two are marked by buoys.

Dunany Light buoy - (port hand) Fl R 3s position: 53° 53.530’N, 006° 09.502’W

Imogene Light buoy - (port hand) Fl (2) R 10s position: 53° 57.415’N, 006° 07.042’W

The southern limit of Dundalk Bay is formed by Dunany Point. Of moderate height, it has a church on the summit of the rising ground about 0.7 of a mile west-southwest of the point. Another spire, surrounded by trees, exists about 1.7 miles further southwest. A further conspicuous and isolated tower will be seen 2 miles inland about midway between Clogher Head and the point. On top of the cliff of Dunany Point itself, a small lookout hut can be clearly seen from seaward. Dunany Point is marked by red buoy placed 3½ miles to the northeast in 15 metres of water.

Dunany Buoy – Port hand Fl R 3s position: 53° 53.530'N 006° 09.502’W

Dunany Point ass seen from the south
Image: Michael Harpur

Dunany Point is surrounded by outlying rocks, one uncovers at low water at a distance of ½ a mile to the east of it. This rock makes it a very dangerous point to cut for those intending upon exiting Dundalk Bay. A shallow patch runs out from Dunany Point to the east for a distance of 1½ miles and Dunany Shoals stretch 2¾ miles to the north-eastward in irregular patches with depths of 2 to 3 metres. Beyond this, there is a deep shoal called Dundalk Patch with 5 to 8 metres of cover 3 miles east by north from Dunany Point. All of these are marked by the Dunany Buoy and vessels acquainted with the area may pass over the shoals and the point along the 5-metre contour.


Port Oriel (Clogher Head)
Image: Michael Harpur

Four miles south of Dunany Point is the bold rocky promontory of Clogher Head with the fishing port of Port Oriel Click to view haven upon its north side. Two Coast Guard huts are prominent east of Clogher Head. It is moderately bold-to and clear of danger, there is more 5 to 10 metres water within 200 metres of the headland.

The River Boyne entrance as seen from the south
Image: skyeye External link

4½ miles south of Clogher Head is the River Boyne, the first important inlet to the northward of the Skerries. The entrance is 6¾ miles north of Balbriggan, 9 miles to the north of the Skerries and approximately 30 miles north of Dublin. It is well marked by leading lights plus an unlit shipping alignment tower called the Maiden Tower situated 1,000 metres inside the entrance on the southwest side.

Maiden Tower - position: 53° 43.352'N 006° 15.087'W

The Boyne River approaches are free from out-lying dangers with the 5-metre 2-metre contour contours lying 1¼ and the ¾ of a mile out from the entrance. It is not however advisable to cut into the River Boyne entrance from the south. A large unnamed rock lies about 200 metres eastward of Lyons Light that is only visible on low spring tides.

Fiddle Case Pier as seen between the ships above the Boyne Viaduct
Image: Aidan Curran External link

The historic town of Drogheda Click to view haven is situated on both sides of the River Boyne about 4½ miles upriver from where it empties into the Irish Sea. It is a large provincial town that is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and is a today centre of industry and medical care. Accordingly, it is a centre of considerable commercial activity.

Visiting yacht alongside Fiddle Case Pier
Image: Brian Lennon

Drogheda receives visiting boats at 'Fiddle Case Pier' a new dedicated 40-meter pier for yachts and small leisure craft near the heart of the town. The pier can accommodate about 3 medium-sized vessels in depths that range from about 1.5 to 2.0 metres CD over a bottom of soft mud, so deeper draft vessels can come alongside on the rise. The entrance and channel to the town has a maintained depth of 2.2 metres CD to the Tom Roe's Point terminal and thereafter at 1.3 metres CD to the town of Drogheda.

Balbriggan Martello Tower with Breymore Point in the backdrop and Cardy Rocks (top right)
Image: Mc Gon External link

Between the River Boyne and Balbriggan the coast is low-lying and unreceptive to yachtsman. Vessels hugging this part of the coast should take special care to keep clear of Cardy Rocks. This is the outlying half-tide patch of rocks very much in the way of vessels approaching Balbriggan Harbour from the north. They are situated 800 metres out from the rocky Breymore Point and 1 mile north of Balbriggan Lighthouse.

Cardy Rocks as seen from Braymore Point
Image: Kieran Campbell via CC BY-SA 2.0

Cardy Rocks that are marked by an unlit port hand beacon and a narrow pass, carrying more than 5 metres, lies between them and the point. This cut is the domain of the local boatman and should not be considered by those unfamiliar.

Cardy Rocks, port hand beacon, position: 53° 37.912’N, 006° 10.859’W

Balbriggan's Light Tower at the seaward end of the pier makes an unmistakable

Image: Drone Views Media External link

Gormanstown Aerodrome is close to the coast here, approximately 2 miles northeast of Balbriggan and 1 mile north from the Cardies, with a 49.2 metres high radio mast. This is visible for some considerable distance out to sea during darkness when it is lit by three vertical red lights plus lower level red lights.

The small pretty Balbriggan Light tower
Image: Michael Harpur

Just under 7 miles to the south of the River Boyne is Balbriggan Click to view haven a small artificial harbour that dries out completely along with the surrounding bay. The harbour is made obvious by the Balbriggan Light, a white pierhead light upon the north corner of the pier.

Balbriggan Light - Fl (3) WRG 20s 10M position: 53° 36.778' N, 006° 10.702' W

Skerries Harbour area and the islands
Image: Xhemajl Abdullahu (jimmy)

Four miles to the southeast of Balbriggan are The Skerries. This is a group of small islands called St Patrick’s, Colt, Shenick’s, and Red islands. They vary from 15 to 18 metres in height and all have extensive rocky foreshores. St Patrick’s, the outermost island, is distinguished by the ruins of a church on its southwest end, Shenick's and Red islands by Martello towers. The two latter are connected with the mainland, Shenick's at low water only, and Red Island by a causeway, which provides shelter to the drying Skerries Bay and Harbour Click to view haven on its north-west side.

Skerries Harbour at high water
Image: Keith Wang CC BY-SA 2.0

It is possible to cut through the sounds of the island group. There is a boat passage between Red Island and Colt Island with a suitable rise, and a narrow passage with a least depth of 3 metres between St Patrick’s Island and Colt Island that is available at all times. These will be seen to be used by local leisure craft but require some involved navigation for those unfamiliar with the area. The principal danger to be avoided is a covered reef that extends 400 metres to the southwest of S. Patrick’s island. Details are available in the Navigating through the Skerries Islands Route location route. As a rule, newcomers are better off staying well outside of the Skerries Group. Those approaching Skerries Bay and Harbour must take care to avoid Cross Rock on the outer end of a ledge extending to the northward of Red Island and dry at low water.

Rockabill Lighthouse
Image: Tourism Ireland

2½ miles east by north of St. Patrick’s island is Rockabill with its Lighthouse, and although separated from the Skerries by a deep and clear channel, it may be considered an outer part of this group.

Rockabill Lighthouse - Fl WR 12s position: 53° 35.811' N, 006° 00.297' W

Historical survey shot clearly showing Rockabill's two granite rocks
Image: DF Archives

It consists of two granite rocks rising abruptly from the sea to a height of 9.5 metres. Rockabill Lighthouse stands 32 metres high on the highest part of the southern rock. The rocks are clear of danger, with 12 or 16 metres close in, and 20 to 30 at the distance of a ¼ of a mile off.


2½ miles to the south of the Skerries Islands and on the mainland coast is Loughshinny Click to view haven. This is a small cove with a fishing pier situated l½ miles north of Rush Point and 1.6 miles south of Shenick Island - the southernmost of the Skerries Islands.

Rush Harbour at low water
Image: Michael Harpur

Rush Harbour Click to view haven is situated close west of a rocky point that extends out from the north side of the Rogerstown Inlet. The village harbour lies at the lower end of the main street comprising a small 19th century L -shaped pier with a modern platform to seaward. It is situated on the west end of the rocky point and protected by breakwaters. The small harbour itself dries at half-tide, is very small and shallow and can only be used by small craft that can take to the bottom.

Rockabill Lighthouse as seen over the head of the pier at Rush
Image: Michael Harpur

The Rogerstown Inlet Click to view haven is located immediately south of Rush's rocky point, with the estuary's mouth separating the beaches of Donabate and Rush. It offers the potential of picking up vacant local moorings for shallow to moderate draft vessels if available by arrangement with the local sailing club. Boats that can take-to-the hard may also come alongside a small drying pier. Set within a narrow, enclosed waterway, with a sandbar protecting its eastward approach path, the inlet provides good protection.

Yacht moorings in the Rogerstown Inlet
Image: Michael Harpur

Positioned 2 miles offshore, nearly in front of the Rogerstown Inlet, and 6 miles north by northeast of the Howth Peninsula is Lambay Island. The largest island off the east coast of Ireland it is the most conspicuous feature of the coast.

Lambay Island as seen from the south
Image: Joachim S. Müller via CC BY-SA 2.0

Covering an area of about 2.5 km2 (0.97 sq mi) it rises 126 m to its highest point that is a hill known as Knockbawn. The island's high ground lies to the east with steep cliffs standing along the northern, eastern, and southern coasts of the island. Its east point, called the Nose of Lambay, is elevated 55 metres above high water.

The rocky 55 metre high Nose of Lambay
Image: Brian Lennon

By contrast, the western side has low-lying land and gentle slopes. As a consequence, it is upon the western side that almost all of the island's buildings stand, the Castle, the coastguard cottages, guest residences, and the Catholic chapel, all of which are fronted by its small drying boat harbour Click to view haven.

The Boat Harbour Lambay Island
Image: Mbaring via ASA 4.0

The west side of the island is rocky and shallow close to the shore with some outlying dangers that need to be observed off its corners, Tailor’s Rocks and Burren Rocks

Tailor’s Rocks North Cardinal Buoy
Image: Brian Lennon

The Tailor’s Rocks north cardinal buoy situated off Scotch Point, at the Islands northwestern tip. The buoy marks Taylor Rocks a patch that extends 300 metres north by northwest of Scotch Point.

Tailor’s Rocks North Cardinal Buoy – Q position: 53° 30.222’N, 006° 01.871’W

Burren Rocks perch set on a reef extending off of the western extremity of

Image: Brian Lennon

The Burren Rocks is a reef, visible at low water, that extends about 400 metres off of the western extremity of Lambay and dry to 0.6m. These are marked by a lighted starboard hand beacon that stands upon the rocky head. The ledge, however, extends a further 30 metres out from the beacon so give it a sensible distance.

Burren Rock Starboard Beacon - Fl.G 5s position: 53° 29.353’N, 006° 02.460’W

Burren Rocks perch
Image: Brian Lennon

The rest of Lambay Island is made up of high bold cliffs. At least 5 metres of water can be found 200-metres off the southern shoreline and 10 metres of water off the northern and eastern shorelines. Two sandbanks extend north and south from the island. Frazer Bank, made up of sand, with 7 to 9 metres of water over it extends up to a mile to the north and likewise Hoskyn Bank to the south. These banks should be avoided in strong easterlies. Three other anchorages are available around the island, Talbot's Bay Click to view haven on the south side, Seal Hole Click to view haven on the east side and Saltpan Bay Click to view haven on the northside. All of these anchorages save for Saltpan Bay are temporary fairwater anchorages.

Saltpan Bay on the north side of Lambay Island
Image: Brian Lennon

The extensive Saltpan Bay by contrast, with its high protective sheer cliffs providing shelter from the prevailing winds and excellent holding, is perhaps one of the best anchorages on the east coast of Ireland.

The channel between Lambay Island and the mainland is nearly 2 miles wide and has a least depth of 9.7m except for Burge Bar, with a least depth of 7.6m. It is a straightforward channel for leisure craft to adopt taking care to avoid the rocks on the island side.

The coastal area between Lambay and the Ben of Howth with the Rogerstown and
Malahide inlets

Image: Bill Boaden via CC BY_SA 2.0

Progressing south the coast from Rush Point to Howth, 8 miles to the south, is of a moderate elevation, and is generally fronted by a clean sandy beach, with 5 metres of depth approximately 150 metres off. Several Martello towers stand along this coast that is easily identified and well-marked on the chart. In settled conditions, yachts may anchor temporarily anywhere between Lambay Island and Howth. Between these points Rush Harbour, Rogerstown Inlet, Malahide Inlet, and Baldoyle Creek are located.

Ben Of Howth to Malahide
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0

3½ miles south by southwest of the Rogerstown Inlet is the shallow inlet of Malahide Click to view haven. 1¼ miles within the entrance and on the inlet’s south side, Malahide is an affluent coastal suburban town replete with a full-service modern Marina. The situated within a sea inlet that passes between sandhills to a large lagoon. The lagoon is divided in two by the embankment and viaduct carrying the Dublin to Belfast railway line. The inner estuary to the east, although tidal, never drains completely, so is essentially a large picturesque artificial shallow lagoon, used mainly for windsurfing, and small dinghies. The outer part hosts the harbour consists of a shallow and narrow inlet protected on each side by the sandhills. Here, the marina is set into the inlet to the north of the town and is protected by a breakwater extending westward then southward from the inner side of East Pier and a small detached breakwater inside the marina entrance.

Yacht approaching Malahide Marina
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0

The inlet is made conspicuous by a hotel building that stands on the south side of the inlet. A prominent 50-metre high chapel spire stands close west of the hotel plus a square-towered castle, with the red roofs of several houses close by, stands about 0.7 miles southeast of the hotel. An aeronautical light situated at the airport about 4½ miles west-southwest of the entrance to Malahide Inlet that is highly visible from the sea.

Ireland's Eye close north of Howth Harbour
Image: Siobhan Pepper via CC BY-SA 2.0

The conspicuous small barren rocky island of Ireland’s Eye lies about a mile to the northward of the Nose of Howth and 1,200 metres due north of Howth Harbour. Ireland's Eye rises abruptly on its north side to the height of 65-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 islet elevated 2 metres above high water. To the southwest of this, there are some rocky patches called the North Rowan, that uncovers to a distance of 300 metres from the Thulla.

Sea stacks of Ireland's Eye
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0

The north and east sides of Ireland’s Eye are steep-to, with 8 and 12 metres water 100 metres out from the rocks. The west of the island, by contrast, is very shallow with not more than 2.7 metres of water in the middle of Howth Sound. Nearby Carrigeen Bay Click to view haven, off the northwest end of Irelands Eye, provides a good landing anchorage for the small island. The south, at low water, is about ½ a mile wide with depths decreasing towards each side. The key markers off the south end of the island support access to Howth Harbour and Sound and are as follows:

Carrigeen Bay, Ireland's Eye
Image: Nina via CC BY-SA 2.0

Rowan Rocks buoy - E cardinal Q - (3) 10 sec position: 53° 23.877’N, 006° 03.269’W

Howth Buoy - Starboard hand F1 G 5 sec position: 53° 23.727’N, 006° 03.593’W

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

Howth Harbour
Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

Close south of Ireland’s Eye is Howth Harbour Click to view haven that is formed by two piers run out from the shore towards the island. It is formed by two piers, East and West, that run out from the shore towards the small barren rocky island of Ireland’s Eye that lies immediately offshore. Within its outer arms, is a central Trawler Pier Breakwater which curves out from the head of the harbour to divide the fishing port, on the west side, from a separate marina that lies behind a Marina Breakwater on the east. The town of Howth is located at the foot of the piers. The harbour is predominantly a fishing port with some processing performed in the fishing harbour area and some boat maintenance. It is also a major small craft and yachting centre.

The view out through Howth Harbour's entrance towards Ireland's Eye
Image: Brian Lennon

The harbour is easily distinguished by its East Pier light tower at the entrance. This is a 13-metre-tall white and red beacon at the end of the harbour’s northernmost breakwater. The prominent, and now disused, granite lighthouse stands close inside on the pier. These marks along with the small island of Ireland’s Eye is situated close north of the harbour entrance make Howth Harbour unmistakable from seaward.

Howth East Pier - Fl (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12/9M position: 53° 23.647'N, 006° 4.012'W

Balscadden Bay as seen from the southeast
Image: Michael Harpur

Balscadden Bay Click to view haven, on the southeast corner of Howth Harbour underneath the Martello tower at the beginning of Howth Harbours East Pier, also offers an external anchorage.

Ben Of Howth as seen from the south
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0


East of Howth the northern side the Hill of Howth is steep-to as is most of the headland around to the Nose of Howth, except close in 400 to 1,200 metres north of the Baily, 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 resides about 50 metres outside Puck's Rocks.

Ben Of Howth as seen from the north with Dublin Bay in the backdrop
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0

The Ben of Howth is a peninsula dominating the northeast side of Dublin Bay. The 167 metres high Hill of Howth terminates to the southeast in the Baily, the southeast extremity of the peninsula. This is a bold projecting point with precipitous shores, with a lighthouse, a 13-metre high granite tower, that marks the northern point of the entrance to Dublin Bay.

Baily Lighthouse - Fl 15s position: 53° 21.691’N, 006° 03.158'W

The Baily leading out to the Baily Lighthouse
Image: Chripell via CC BY 2.0

The Burford Bank extends across the entrance of Dublin Bay in a north by northeast direction; nearly due south from the Baily lighthouse. It is a narrow ridge of hard sand, 2 miles long, and less than a ¼ of a mile wide. Burford Banks shallowest part is 3.9 metres and presents little danger to leisure craft in settled conditions. However, it breaks heavily in easterly gales and should be avoided. The north end of the bank is marked by the North Burford Cardinal and the south end by the South Burford Cardinal.

North Burford - Cardinal WHISTLE position: 53° 20.507'N, 006° 01.493’W

South Burford - Cardinal VQ (6) + LFl 10s WHISTLE position: 53°18.060'N, 006° 01.298’W

4½ mile east by south of the Baily Lighthouse and 3 miles north of Kish Bank, is the Bennet Bank. It extends in a north by east direction for 1½ miles and is steep-to on both sides. The shallowest part of the bank is on the southern side with 8.8 metres of cover and as such it does not concern leisure craft. A continuous ridge of sand extends to the northward from the bank, with 13 and 17 metres of cover. Its southern side is marked by a south cardinal.

Bennet Bank – South Cardinal Q (6) + LFl 15s position: 53° 20.172'N, 005° 55.130’W

Port of Dublin and Dublin Bay
Image: Giuseppe Milo

Hosting the capital of Ireland, Dublin Bay is unmistakable from seaward. Situated between Dalkey Island on the south and the hill of Howth on the north it is about 5.8 miles wide and 6 miles deep. The head of the bay is filled with extensive sandbanks through which the River Liffey, guided by long walls, flows into the sea and the city and Port of Dublin Click to view haven are situated at the mouth of the river.

River Liffey, guided by long walls, leading to the port of Dublin and city
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0

The 'Hill of Howth', abruptly rising on the north side of the bay, forms the most prominent natural feature when approached from the sea. Dún Laoghaire Harbour plus the Killiney hills will be seen to the south closer in. The coast is comparatively low on the southern side backed by hills which rise to a height of 500 metres within 5 miles of the shore. In the centre of Dublin Bay, the Poolbeg lighthouse stands 20 metres high at the head of the south breakwater. 1½ miles above the Liffey’s entrance the conspicuous twin 210-metre high Poolbeg power station chimneys stand close together; behind which the high rise buildings of Dublin city will appear.

Port of Dublin as seen from the south
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0

Heading southwest from the Nose of Howth to the Dublin Bay Buoy the first markers to be encountered are the East and South Rosbeg cardinal markers for the Rosbeg Bank.

Rosbeg South cardinal - Fl Mo (A) 10s position: 53° 20.373'N, 006° 04.312'W

Rosbeg East cardinal - Fl Mo (A) 10s position: 53° 21.007'N, 006° 03.452'W

These mark the Rosbeg Bank on the north side of Dublin Bay, lying 0.7 of a mile south-southwest from the Baily lighthouse. It is made up of fine sand and is ¾ of a mile long and 200 metres wide, with 4.6 metres of water at its shallowest part.

Dublin Bays central marker is the Dublin Bay buoy, L Fl 10s, situated in the middle of the bay.

Dublin Bay Buoy - Fl Mo (A) 10s position: 53° 19.912'N, 006° 04.646'W

Please note

A Traffic Separation Scheme has been established in Dublin Bay with a traffic circle established around on Dublin Bay buoy. This is well marked on Admiralty Chart No. 1415, 2002 and involves separation lanes to the north and south of the Burford Bank.

Vessels continuing south may avail of the set of waypoints and coastal description for Dublin Bay to Rosslare Harbour Route location.

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 research

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