What is the route?
- • North of the Garvan Islands and inside Inishtrahull
- • Inside Rathlin Island
- • Inside the Maidens
- • Outside Hunter Rock
- • Outside the Lucifer Bank
- • Through Donaghadee Sound.
- • Outside South Rock.
Why sail this route?This is a coastal sequence for cruisers who want to stay in inshore waters to enjoy the coastal scenery that this simply beautiful sailing area has to offer. The inshore route also benefits from the calmer seas that the lee of land offers from the prevailing south westerlies. It is also conveniently close to the many listed passage havens described along the way.
What are the navigational notes?
The Malin Head to Strangford Lough route is to a large part that of the North Channel. This is the strait that separates eastern Ulster from southwestern Scotland and connects the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The North Channel is deep and clear, and with the exception of the coast between Strangford Narrows and Belfast Lough, and the Maidens, is moderately steep-to on both shores except in larger bays. To the west of Rathlin Island, the bottom can be uneven.
The principal off-lying Islands and dangers in the Malin Head area are the Garvan Isles, a group of small islets about one mile off the coast near Malin Head. Further out there is Inishtrahull, that itself has off lying dangers such as the Tor Rocks. There is also a narrow ridge of coarse sand called Hempton’s Turbot Bank that should be avoided. It is situated nine miles east of Inishtrahull that has overfalls during bad weather.
To the northeast of Ramore Head the Skerries, another chain of rocky islets, need some attention for vessels planning inshore coastal sailing in this area. The nearby isolated patch of rocks called the Storks, situated just under a mile offshore, should also be noted.
Rathlin Island, located about seven miles east-northeast of Fair Head, has the rocky Shamrock Pinnacle and the Laconia Bank, located to the northwest of the island, and races and overfalls upon its corners. Rathlin Sound, between the island and the mainland, should be avoided in bad weather. Extensive overfalls form over its shallowest parts that present a very real danger to leisure craft.
Progressing south the Maidens, consisting of two two dangerous groups of rocks separated by a navigable passage, lie about five miles to the north of Larne. Hunter Rock lies to the south of the Maidens, between them and the entrance to Lough Foyle.
From Belfast Lough to Strangford Lough the Coast has a host of off lying dangers. The Copeland Islands are surrounded by dangers and attention needs to be paid to the Foreland Spit, Long Rock, Skullmartin Rock, Burial Island, Plough Rock, North and South Rocks and Butter Pladdy. But once past the Copeland Islands, the rest may all be cleared by simply keeping two to three miles offshore.
With any ordinary measure of care and some tidal planning, this route may be safely and easily navigated. It will be found to be a simply beautiful sailing area for leisure vessels bound for or exiting the Irish Sea.
The complete course is 111.59 miles from the waypoint '2½ miles northwest of Malin Head' to '1 mile south of the Strangford Light Float ' tending in a south seaterly direction (reciprocal north westerly).
2½ miles northwest of Malin Head, 55° 25.000' N, 007° 25.000' W
Two miles to the northwest of Malin Head the most northerly point of the island of Ireland.
► Next waypoint: 6.00 miles, course ⇓ 100.79°T (reciprocal ⇑ 280.79°T)
2 miles south of Inishtrahull Light, 55° 23.870' N, 007° 14.628' W
A 23-metre high Lighthouse, Fl (3) 15s (Red. Vis.), that stands on the west side of the island. This is in Inishtrahull Sound that lies between the Garvan Isles and Inishtrahull.
► Next waypoint: 15.31 miles, course ⇓ 124.91°T (reciprocal ⇑ 304.91°T)
¼ mile south of the Foyle Safe Water Bouy, 55° 15.081' N, 006° 52.616' W
Foyle Safe Water Bouy, LFl 10s, is moored about two miles to the northeast of Inishowen Head the principal landmark.
► Next waypoint: 20.42 miles, course ⇓ 88.41°T (reciprocal ⇑ 268.41°T)
2½ miles south of Rathlin West Lighthouse, 55° 15.560' N, 006° 16.815' W
Rathlin West is an 18-metre high tower, Fl R 5s (Red. Vis.), standing at the west side of the island, 0.5 mile north of Bull Point that is the western extremity. This is in Rathlin Sound that lies between the Island and the mainland.
► Next waypoint: 2.49 miles, course ⇓ 120.92°T (reciprocal ⇑ 300.92°T)