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Navigating through Magharee Sound south of the Islands

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What is the route?
This is a short cut from Brandon Bay, or any passage arriving in from further southwest, into Tralee Bay and Fenit Harbour. It is a cut through Magharee Sound that lies between Rough Point, the northmost extremity of the sandy peninsula that forms the west side of Tralee Bay, and the Magharee Islands that lie close north.

Why sail this route?
This cut that saves at least an hour from the passage into Fenit whilst adding some interesting sailing. Likewise in moderate or clear weather with a favourable tide, there is no great difficulty running in through Magharee Sound.

Tidal overview
Today's summary tidal overview for this route as of Tuesday, October 3rd at 10:44. Tidal streams run strongly in Magharee Sound following the direction of the fairway. They reach a maximum spring rate of 2 to 3 kn in both directions.

Out Going Stream

(HW Dover -0612 to +0000)


(Tidal flow )

Ends in 03:38:42

(Tue 08:11 to 14:23)

In Going Stream

(HW Dover +0000 to +0612)

Starts in 03:38:42

(Tue 14:23 to 20:35)

What are the navigational notes?
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the route. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Clicking the 'Expand to Fullscreen' icon opens a larger viewing area in a new tab.

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Please zoom out (-) if all of the waypoints are not displayed.
The above plots are not precise and are indicative only.


The Magharee Islands, or Seven Hogs, lie four miles due east of Brandon Point. The group of islands lie north of Rough Point the northern end of a sandy peninsula that separates Brandon Bay from Tralee Bay. Narrow and intricate Magharee Sound passes between the islets and the foul ground off Rough Point. The Sound is deep and wide with a least depth of 4.3 metres and is a ⅓ of a mile wide.

In moderate or clear weather with a favourable tide, there is no great difficulty in running through this cut that saves at least an hour's sailing and adds some interesting navigation. But during westerly gales, a heavy breaking sea breaks right across the sound where it meets an opposing current and it should be absolutely avoided. The worst conditions are to be found in a northwest gale or when there is a heavy swell. So it should be noted that this is not a foul weather short cut. In these times it is best to pass two miles north of the Magharees to avoid possible breakers over two shoals located to the north of the group.


The complete course is 9.49 miles from the waypoint 'West Magharee Sound' to '200 metres south of Great Samphire Lighthouse' tending in a east south easterly direction (reciprocal west north westerly).

West Magharee Sound, 52° 19.000' N, 010° 5.000' W
Approach waypoint to the north of Brandon Bay

       Next waypoint: 2.67 miles, course 83.35°T (reciprocal 263.35°T)

Magharee Sound, 52° 19.308' N, 010° 0.659' W
The turning point in the centre of the sound onto 106° T of the alignment of Church Hill and the ruined square tower of Fenit Castle. If these marks are obscured, the back bearing 282° T of the southwest corner of Illauntannig with Gurrig Island, open one length, also serves to lead through Magharee Sound.

       Next waypoint: 3.07 miles, course 105.24°T (reciprocal 285.24°T)

Tralee Bay Transit Convergence Point , 52° 18.500' N, 009° 55.820' W
Transit convergence point of 106°T from Church Hill and 354°T of Kerry Head, open west of Mucklaghmore. At night, the approach to Fenit can be made in the white sector, 140° - 152° T, of Little Samphire Island Light.

       Next waypoint: 2.95 miles, course 146.07°T (reciprocal 326.07°T)

¼ of a mile southwest of Samphire Lighthouse, 52° 16.050' N, 009° 53.127' W
This is located ¼ of a mile southwest of Samphire Lighthouse, Fl WRG 5s 17m W16M, the primary light of Tralee Bay. The light stands upon Little Samphire Island and lighthouse provides a sectored light to assist vessels past the dangers in the bay: 262°-Red-275°, 280-Red-090°-Green-140°-White-152°-Red-172°.

       Next waypoint: 0.79 miles, course 89.28°T (reciprocal 269.28°T)

200 metres south of Great Samphire Lighthouse, 52° 16.060' N, 009° 51.835' W
200 metres south of Great Samphire Lighthouse, QR 15m 3M, situated Great Samphire Island. The island is joined to the mainland by an 800-metre bridge that forms the western side of Fenit Harbour. The island exhibits a light visible 242°-097°.


Two transits mark the Magharee Sound’s best water. Admiralty Chart 2739 presents a leading mark shown of 106° T of the rock islet The Rose with the ruined square tower of Fenit Castle in line with the highest part of Church Hill, upon which stands two prominent churches. This will lead out through the eastern side of the sound. However, this transit may not always be easily picked out by an unacquainted visitor. Another possibly more easily identified lead through the sound is to give Illauntannig a reasonable berth and then keep Gurrig Island, a flat island that looks like a pan lid almost replete with knob, about its own breadth open to the south of the south point of Illauntannig, providing a line of bearing of 282° T astern.

The tides into Tralee Bay need to be factored into any transit as they attain a maximum rate of three knots here.
  • • Dover HW (Cobh +0550) the in-going stream into Tralee Bay commences

  • • Dover +0600 (Cobh -0035) out going stream from Tralee Bay commences

The deep water track through Magharee Sound has only 200 metres either side of it in places, and the sound itself is less than half a mile wide, so great care should be taken not to be pushed off the line.

In fine weather, the islands are stunningly beautiful. There is an anchorage available close north of the western approach to Magharee Sound off the island of Illauntannig Click to view haven.
What is the best sailing time?
Sailing season for Ireland is May to September, with June and July offering some of the best weather. Nevertheless the incidence of winds up to force seven and above in June and July are on average two days each month. So you may be either held up or having a blast depending on your sailing preferences. Ireland is not subject to persistent fog – statistically complete days of persistent fog occur less than once in a decade.

Are there any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a pleasure vessel sailing off the Irish coast.

With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.

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