What is the route?
This is the tidal counter and the run up through the length of Carlingford Lough from the entrance up as far as the Victoria Lock which can be reached at high water. Victoria Lock is located about 2½ miles above Warrenpoint at the head of the Lough and is the single lock at the seaward end of the Newry Ship Canal that leads to Newry's town basin approximately 3½ miles above.
Pilotage up to Warrenpoint is straightforward via a deep water shipping channel that runs the entire length of the lough making the port accessible at night or day in all reasonable conditions. Although well marked, access and piloting require good charts and visibility owing to exceptional currents in the entrance area where they attain 5 knots. As a particular consequence of this, the entrance should be timed to be around slack water, and the vessel should be equipped with a reliable engine.
In addition to directions and waypoints for the deep water shipping channel the principal dangers in the area are highlighted to facilitate those who venture off the beaten path and the principal berths are highlighted.
Why sail this route?Situated between the lower slopes of the Mountains of Mourne and the Cooley Mountains, Carlingford Lough is 8 miles long in a northwesterly direction, with a breadth varying from 1 to 2 miles. It makes for a beautiful expanse of water with lots of varied berthing opportunities that have long been enjoyed by leisure vessels.
Navigation is easy as there is a lighthouse in the middle of the Lough's entrance and the well-marked, regularly dredged, deepwater commercial channel's first marks commence nearly 2 miles too seaward of it. From there it stretches the length of the Lough to Warrenpoint carrying sufficient depth for the largest ships all the way.
Tidal overviewToday's summary tidal overview for this route as of Sunday, December 3rd at 07:47. In the entrance, the flood begins as set out from Dover in the timer or at about 5 hours 30 minutes before HW at Dublin and the ebb 10 minutes before HW at Dublin. At Cranfield Point, the tide rises about 4.8m at MHWS and 4.3m at MHWN.
Currents are barely perceptible at Hellyhunter Buoy but the spring velocity in both directions in Carlingford Cut is about 3½ knots. The spring velocity in the entrance and outer part of Hoskyn Channel is about 2.5 knots in both directions, increasing to about 4.5 knots south of Haulbowline Rocks. This latter velocity is also attained east of Haulbowline Rocks above the junction of Hoskyn Channel and Carlingford Cut. The strongest current in the Lough is between Halpin Rock and Greenore where it attains about 5 knots at springs. Off Carlingford, above Greenore, both the flood and ebb run at the rate of 1½ knots at springs; in Rostrevor Bay, at the head of the lough, the currents are feeble.
(HW Dover +0020 to -0500)
(Tidal flow )
Ends in 02:05:24
(Sun 02:48 to 09:53)
(HW Dover -0500 to +0020)
Starts in 02:05:24
(Sun 09:53 to 15:13)
What are the navigational notes?
The mountains at the upper part of the lough may attain heights of from 300 to 600 metres but the land at the entrance is low. The low ingress is nevertheless easily identified from seaward by being framed between the Cooley Mountains on the southern side and the Mountains of Mourne appearing in the upper part of the Lough. On the shoreline, the entrance is situated between Ballagan Point and Cranfield Point, 2 miles to the northeast, and is almost entirely blocked by rocks and shoals that extend across the mouth of the Lough. At the centre of this stands the conspicuous 34-metre high grey granite Haulbowline Lighthouse.
Haulbowline Lighthouse - Fl (3) W10s 17M position: 54° 01.196’N, 006° 04.740’W
Close northeast of the lighthouse is the Carlingford Cut, the main entrance channel that the lighthouse marks. It lies between the foul ground off Cranfield Point and the Limestone Rock shoals extending out to Haulbowline Lighthouse. A fairway through the cut is dredged to a depth of 6.3 metres. It is marked by lighted buoys on each side and indicated by range lights.
Image: Tourism Ireland
The key point to factor into any planned visit to Carlingford Lough is that it is very difficult for a displacement leisure vessel to enter or leave against its tides. Spring velocity in the entrance, around the Haulbowline Rocks, attains speeds of 5 knots.
Newcomers are therefore best advised to approach at slack water. As the slack water period between two tides at the Lough entrance is very short, and only happens twice a day, possibly once in daylight, it may be best to stage the visit to the Lough by staying in a convenient local haven to set up an optimum time entry.
Image: Graham Rabbits
It is also worth noting that during northwest winds, the inlet is subject to heavy squalls that descend from the hills and, owing to the funnelling effect of the mountains, expect the northwest wind strength to be double what is forecasted. As such, during strong north-westerlies, Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough Marina are the only places that will be comfortable.
The complete course is 11.82 miles from the waypoint 'Hellyhunter' to 'Entrance to Victoria Lock' tending in a north westerly direction (reciprocal south easterly).
Hellyhunter, 54° 0.346' N, 006° 2.454' W
600 metres due east of Hellyhunter, a south cardinal buoy Q(6) +FL1.15s. From here the line of the entrance’s leading light beacons may be picked up.
► Next waypoint: 0.69 miles, course ⇓ 307.94°T (reciprocal ⇑ 127.94°T)
Carlingford Cut Channel Entrance, 54° 0.768' N, 006° 3.375' W
Between the fairway's No.1 & No.2 buoys in line with the entrance’s leading light.
► Next waypoint: 0.53 miles, course ⇓ 309.88°T (reciprocal ⇑ 129.88°T)
Carlingford Cut Channel Midway, 54° 1.107' N, 006° 4.066' W
Between No. 3 & No. 4 Buoys
► Next waypoint: 0.35 miles, course ⇓ 311.57°T (reciprocal ⇑ 131.57°T)
Junction of Carlingford Cut and Hoskyn Channel , 54° 1.341' N, 006° 4.515' W
Less than 60 metres south of the No. 5 Buoy and 400 metres northeastward of Haulbowline Lighthouse which stands in the middle of the entrance to Carlingford Lough.
► Next waypoint: 0.36 miles, course ⇓ 290.74°T (reciprocal ⇑ 110.74°T)