What is the route?
- • Through the inner entrance and along the southern shore
- • North of Foynes Island
- • Past The Middle Ground via the North Channel
- • South of Beeves Rock
- • West of Battle Island
Why sail this route?Many cruisers enjoy inshore coastal sailing and particularly so between close situated locations. This coastal description assists planning by highlighting key characteristics and immediate dangers that may be encountered whilst sailing in this area.
Tidal overviewToday's summary tidal overview for this route as of Friday, January 28th at 15:57.
The Ebb (out-going) Tide
(HW Dover -0515 to +0045)
(Tidal flow )
Ends in 04:33:05
(Fri 14:31 to 20:31)
The Flood (in-going) Tide
(HW Dover +0100 to -0530)
Starts in 04:48:05
(Fri 20:46 to 02:41)
What are the navigational notes?
The 240 miles long River Shannon, the largest river of the British Isles, is an outstanding sailing destination in itself. Its wide entrance, located between Loop Head and Kerry Head, provides easy access and, containing major ports, is well marked. Within the entrance, the river will be found to be spacious and it offers relatively secure anchoring.
Vessels with a draft of over five metres may progress forty-five miles inland to the river’s commercial port of Limerick. The tide flows as far as the city with the vast majority of it navigable by pleasure craft at all stages of the tide. It is only above the conjunction of the Fergus River, in the final lengths to Limerick, that the Shannon shallows and becomes somewhat obstructed by rocks and flats. In these sections, a least depth of just over a metre can be found in the fairway requiring vessels of any draft to navigate with the benefit of a tidal rise.
Upriver from Limerick the Shannon effectively becomes an inland waterway. An un-stepped and shallow-draft vessel may continue to navigate these waters by passing through its seven locks and under its several bridges, almost to its source in County Caven. Those intending upon such a cruising plan would be best advised to contact the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) voluntary organisation that advocates the use, maintenance, protection, restoration and improvement of the inland waterways of Ireland.
Protection from adverse conditions along this coast is best found in the Shannon. The outer coastal anchorages of Smerwick, Brandon Bay, or tucked into the Magharee Islands, can be exposed to the Atlantic Swell and do not offer protection from all quarters. Likewise, Tralee Bay is also open and affords little shelter, except for at Fenit Harbour in its southeast corner. The Shannon however, is free from outlying dangers and its well-marked wide open entrance is accessible at all times. Within the river, vessels can safely anchor and find protection from any condition. As such, in thick weather, or with a westerly gale, vessels are best advised to run for the Shannon.
Tidal streams in the Shannon are strong, up to 4 knots on the ebb, and the prevailing winds blow upstream. This makes the ride upriver very fast and efficient and an ebb tide downriver beat fast but somewhat wet. The tidal range in the Shannon estuary is appreciably higher than anywhere else on the west coast attain about 5.5 metres during Springs at Limerick. The Flood (in-going) tide begins at +0100 Dover at the entrance attaining a rate of 2½ knots. The Ebb (out-going) tide commences at -0515 Dover and attains a rate of 4 knots.
It should be noted that the spring ebb tide sweeps round the entrance’s Kilcredaun Head at the rate of from 3.5 to 4 knots. So entry, at this time, requires a commanding breeze or the support of a stalwart engine. The nearest tide wait anchorage is Kilbaha Bay , three miles inside Loop Head. It is a fair weather haven where holding is poor and it is sheltered in winds from west around to northeast, but is exposed to swell from the southeast. Carrigaholt Bay , situated immediately inside the entrance on the north bank of the Shannon, provides the first safe haven.
This entire length of the river, from a line drawn between Loop Head and Kerry Head to Limerick, is managed by Shannon Foynes Port Company who use VHF Channel 11 as their working channel. It is strongly recommended that leisure vessels maintain a listening watch on this channel.
The waypoints provided lead up through the main shipping channel but it should be noted that leisure craft are obliged to give way to Commercial Shipping that cannot move outside the limits of the marked Channel. This should not present a problem as the vast majority of the river has ample deep water outside of the marks. In the event of uncertain with regard to shipping movements, contact the vessel on Ch. 11 to indicate your intentions. Most shipping movements between Shannon Airport and Limerick take place 2 hours ± High Water.
The complete course is 46.31 miles from the waypoint ' ¼ of a mile south of the Ballybunnion North Cardinal ' to 'The Pool' tending in a easterly direction (reciprocal westerly).
¼ of a mile south of the Ballybunnion North Cardinal , 52° 32.300' N, 009° 46.940' W
The Ballybunion North Cardinal, VQ Fl. 6m, that marks the mouth of the River Shannon.
► Next waypoint: 3.08 miles, course ⇓ 64.28°T (reciprocal ⇑ 244.28°T)
River entrance leading lights aligned on 046½°, 52° 33.635' N, 009° 42.375' W
Lights in line 046°T from a position of just over a mile south of Kilcredaun Head. Front light, Oc 5s (24hr), on Corlis Point, Rear light, Oc 5s (24hr), at Querrin Quay. This lead through the river entrance, passing close north of the Tail of Beal, Beal Spit and Beal Bar markers.
► Next waypoint: 2.45 miles, course ⇓ 46.73°T (reciprocal ⇑ 226.73°T)
End of 046½° entrance alignment , 52° 35.310' N, 009° 39.445' W
¾ of a mile northwest of Beal Bar.
► Next waypoint: 2.17 miles, course ⇓ 89.19°T (reciprocal ⇑ 269.19°T)
200 metres south of Letter Point Port Buoy, 52° 35.340' N, 009° 35.870' W
Letter Point, Fl R 7s.
► Next waypoint: 0.87 miles, course ⇓ 110.99°T (reciprocal ⇑ 290.99°T)