What is the route?
Image: Michael Harpur
This cut is through the marked shipping channel, but it cannot be recommended at times as it is subject to strong tides that can attain rates of up to 4.5 knots in both directions.
Why sail this route?Cutting between Copeland Island and the mainland coast shortens the distance for those entering and exiting Belfast Lough by about 5 miles. Moreover, taking it with a favourable tidal stream speeds this passage.
Image: Tourism NI
Conversely, as these currents run in both directions, at the wrong time, a foul tide makes it unviable for vessels that cannot make 10 knots and occasional heavy rips would frustrate the best of vessels. In this case, it would be best to pass outside the islands.
Tidal overviewToday's summary tidal overview for this route as of Sunday, October 1st at 13:49. In Donaghadee Sound, the streams run in about the direction of the channel though their rates vary in different parts of the sound and may be as much as 4½ knots at springs in each direction. The tide turns earlier than in the open sea with the first of the flood sets through Donaghadee Sound and between Copeland islands at a rapid rate. It then sets through in a 130° direction from 04:45 hours after High Water at Dover until 01:15 hours before the following high water. Then it sets in a 310° direction from 1 hour before until 5 hours after High Water, at a rate of about 4.5 knots at springs, or even stronger in places at times.
Northwest Stream (ebb)
(HW Dover -0115 to +0445)
(Tidal flow )
Ends in 04:01:40
(Sun 11:51 to 17:51)
Southeast Stream (flood)
(HW Dover +0445 to -0115)
Starts in 04:01:40
(Sun 17:51 to 00:16)
What are the navigational notes?
Image: Michael Harpur
Donaghadee Sound is situated between the south side of Copeland Island and the mainland coast. The southeast entrance of this passage is encumbered with several rocks and there are also hazards on both sides of the Sound off Copeland Island and particularly the Foreland Spit on the mainland. The tidal currents can attain rates of up to 4.5 knots in both directions so this is all in a fast-moving body of water that needs some attention.
Image: © Brian Mason
However, Donaghadee Sound is 1 mile wide. The fairway channel leading through it can almost be described as a straight line, it has no less than 6 metres of water and it is marked by lighted lateral buoys. So, provided tidal streams are favourable, Donaghadee Sound is the normal leisure craft route along this coast.
Tidal planning is however essential because of the strong tidal streams and great care should be taken during the passage. Beware of heavy rips that are caused by the above-described back eddy and shoals in its southeast end. These can amount to overfalls at times that could extend across from Foreland Point to the southeast end of Copeland Island. Particularly so in the constriction close northeast of the Foreland Spit buoy.
The complete course is 2.19 miles from the waypoint 'Northwest Entrance' to 'Southeast Entrance' tending in a south easterly direction (reciprocal north westerly).
Northwest Entrance, 54° 40.445' N, 005° 33.615' W
This is about midway between Copeland Island and the mainland coast.
► Next waypoint: 0.62 miles, course ⇓ 142.55°T (reciprocal ⇑ 322.55°T)
Carn Point, 54° 39.955' N, 005° 32.966' W
In Donaghadee Sound about midway between Carn Point on Copeland Island and Rogers Point on the mainland.
► Next waypoint: 0.48 miles, course ⇓ 126.29°T (reciprocal ⇑ 306.29°T)
Foreland Port Buoy, 54° 39.669' N, 005° 32.293' W
This is about 50 metres northeast of the Foreland Red Can Buoy Fl R 6s.
► Next waypoint: 0.31 miles, course ⇓ 146.13°T (reciprocal ⇑ 326.13°T)
Governor Port Buoy, 54° 39.408' N, 005° 31.990' W
This is about 50 metres northeast of the Governor Red Can Buoy - Fl R 3s.
► Next waypoint: 0.78 miles, course ⇓ 138.56°T (reciprocal ⇑ 318.56°T)