What is the route?
Why sail this route?This provides a useful set of waypoints to approach and pass down the north end of Lough Swilly as far as Fahan and/or enter the marina.
Tidal overviewToday's summary tidal overview for this route as of Saturday, December 10th at 09:45. Lough Swilly's tidal streams are scarcely perceptible at the entrance. They build progressively southward and can attain a spring rate of 1½ to 1¾ kn off Rathmullan Pier. High water for Lough Swilly is HW –0500 Dover, +0110 Galway, mean level 2.3 metres with a duration 0605. Allowing it is about 12 miles with a favourable stream to the 'Inch Spit' buoy the ideal time to enter for a boat capable of 5 knots and intending on visiting Fahan Marina would be two hours after the in-going stream commences or earlier with a tide wait.
Lough Swilly Out-Going Tidal Stream
(HW Londonderry -0210 to +0415)
(Tidal flow )
Ends in 03:19:50
(Sat 06:40 to 13:05)
Lough Swilly In-Going Tidal Stream
(HW Londonderry +0415 to -0210)
Starts in 03:19:49
(Sat 13:05 to 19:05)
What are the navigational notes?
Image: Tourism Ireland
Lough Swilly is a deep and sheltered north facing glacial fjord lying between the western side of the Inishowen Peninsula and the Fanad Peninsula, in County Donegal. The spacious inlet penetrates southward into the land for twenty-six miles to its tidal head, near the town of Letterkenny, and it varies from one to three miles wide. The entrance is well defined by Fanad lighthouse on the western point, and by the bold and lofty headland of Dunaff Head on the eastern side 3½ miles apart. Mid-channel depths at the entrance are in excess of 35 metres and 18 metres to within a short distance of either shore. The general depth of the lough is from 18 to 12 metres, on a bottom of sand, or sand and mud. Both sides of the lough are bordered by hills, 90 to 305 metres high, which are mostly bare at the entrance, but more fertile and cultivated farther to the south.
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00
Entry is simple, day or night in all reasonable weather conditions and at all stages of the tide which makes it the principal harbour of refuge for vessels passing north of Ireland. Once safely inside the lough provides numerous well sheltered anchorage with excellent holding, a marina at Fahan with plenty of space for visitors and a pontoon, usually May to September, at Rathmullan. To name but a few of the berthing oppertunities, eOceanic covers: Pincher Bay , Ballymastocker Bay , Scraggy Bay , Macamish Bay , Rathmullan , Ramelton , Buncrana , Dunree Bay , Crummie’s Bay and Lenan Bay and Lough Swilly Marina at Fahan which the list of waypoints leads directly to and has ample visitor berths and basic toilet / shower facilites available. All of this makes Lough Swilly, argaubly, the principal yachting area on the north coast of Ireland.
The complete course is 13.93 miles from the waypoint 'Lough Swilly' to 'Fahan Channel 8' tending in a south south easterly direction (reciprocal north north westerly).
Lough Swilly, 55° 17.840' N, 007° 35.030' W
This is an offshore waypoint from which to start a passage clear of the entrance heads where rough water may be experienced during heavy weather.
► Next waypoint: 6.22 miles, course ⇓ 176.47°T (reciprocal ⇑ 356.47°T)
Dunree Head, 55° 11.640' N, 007° 34.360' W
Dunree Head, situated 5 miles within the Lough and marked by a lighthouse, is where the lough narrows gradually to a width of about 1 mile.
► Next waypoint: 4.52 miles, course ⇓ 140.12°T (reciprocal ⇑ 320.12°T)
Buncrana, 55° 8.170' N, 007° 29.290' W
At Buncrana the course of the lough bends southwestward.
► Next waypoint: 1.36 miles, course ⇓ 187.72°T (reciprocal ⇑ 7.72°T)
'Inch Spit' buoy, 55° 6.820' N, 007° 29.610' W
This is in the vicinity of the ''Inch Spit' port buoy, Fl.R3s, situated 1¼ miles southwest of the pierhead at Buncrana. This marks the Inch Spit that dries.
► Next waypoint: 0.54 miles, course ⇓ 168.41°T (reciprocal ⇑ 348.41°T)