Today's local tide estimates
LW 00:25, HW 06:39
LW 12:56, HW 19:25
SSE Force 2, Clear/Sunny, 13°C
Direction SE, height 0.0 metres, period 7.3 seconds, significant wave height of 0.1 metres.
Summary* Restrictions apply
A completely protected location with safe access.
4 metres (13.12 feet).
Shelter See it »
Anchorage, moorings, jetty, sailing club, urban, drying, edifying.
Water hose, tap, gas, fuel by jerry can, fuel by tanker, slipway, laundry, extensive shopping, supermarket, toilets, showers, hot food, public houses, cashpoint, post office, doctor, pharmacy, chandlery, marine engineering, electronic repair, bus, rail connections, airport within 25 km, cycle hire, car hire, tourist information.
Haven position? See it »
54° 50.428' N, 005° 47.056' W
Where is that position? See it »
This is in the ‘Yellow Stone’ anchoring area on the 5 metre contour southwest of the rock to the south of Ballylumford power Station. This is located in the upper Lough three-quarters of a mile in from Ferris Point Light House and east of the L-shaped wharf, opposite No.7 buoy.
What is the initial fix? See it »
The following Larne Harbour Initial Fix waypoint will set up a final approach:
54° 51.680' N, 005° 47.530' W
Half a mile north of the harbour and approximately 200 metres East of Larne No. 1 Light buoy (starboard hand) Green buoy, Q (3) 10s. The waypoint is upon the alignment of 184.3°(T) that leads through the centre of the entrance channel.
Why visit here?
Larne (from the Irish: Latharna meaning "Lathair's place") was named when Lathar, the son of an Irish High King Hugony the Great, was granted a small medieval kingdom on the north eastern coastline. The area became known as Lathar-na, or the lands of Lathar, that softened to Larne.
Larne has been used as a seaport for well over 1,000 years and the Vikings called the Lough 'Ulfreksfjord' after one of their kings. Archaeology has produced remains and artefacts in the area that speaks of an ancient culture that lived upon the shores of the North Channel and traded with people from the Scottish coast.
Larne’s heritage is visible in many of the surrounding areas. Such as in the pre-history burial tomb, known locally as 'the Druids Altar' in Islandmagee, mysterious souterrains above Cairncastle village, the atmospheric standing stones that litter the countryside, the 'famine stone' at Garron Point and the remains of the Tower House at Olderfleet where in 1315 Edward Bruce landed his 6000 strong army en route to conquer Ireland. History has also left its mark on Larne.
These trade links still remain, as the port is one of the most modern and busy roll-on/roll-off terminals in Northern Ireland and ships daily take passengers and goods to and from the coast of Scotland. The concrete overpasses to support this traffic, plus the huge chimneys of Ballylumford power station (opposite the harbour on Islandmagee) may somewhat diminish Larne’s personal aesthetics. However the location is a primary gateway to some of Ireland’ most breathtaking coastal scenery.
The world famous 23-mile Antrim Coast Road stretches from northwards from Larne past cliffs, beaches, hills, bays, forests, headlands, mountains and the lush green glens of Antrim. It all starts as the motorist literally drives through a cliff via the ‘Black Arch’, a couple of miles out of Larne.
Larne is a must stop for all cruising vessels as it combines a historical past with a modern port, great provisioning and leisure facilities. As it also affords the best anchorage shelter between Belfast and Lough Foyle, what better place to use as a base to explore the surrounding areas and scenic Antrim Coast Road.
How to get in?
Directions are provided for northern and southern coastal approaches plus a final location approach. If coastal guidance is not applicable, skip directly to the ‘for the final approach’ section.
FOR A NORTHERN COASTAL APPROACH
The northern coast is backed by a rocky mountain range attaining a height of 380 metres, and terminating in Park head a distance of nine miles to the north of Larne. This is a conspicuous headland of a nearly perpendicular 140 metres high cliff near Glenarm.
Closer in to Larne at a distance of 3.5 miles out is Ballygalley Head. This is a round knuckle 89 metres high with a steep cliff; its base is fringed by craggy basaltic rocks. Nearby stands the ruin of the ancient castle of Ballygally. It is possible to wait a tide here and the entire stretch of coast line from Park Head is clear of off lying dangers with good depths close in.
Those approaching from the north or northeast will need to navigate around the Maidens that consist of two clusters of rocks called the West and East Maiden, separated from each other by a deep and wide sound. They reside 4 miles east out to sea from Ballygalley Head, a distance of 4.5 miles from Larne, and are steep-to all round. They are marked by a lighthouse with a white tower and black band on the East Maiden - plus the remains of a West Maiden lighthouse that was taken out of service in 1903.
Maidens Lighthouse - Fl (3) 20s 29m 24M position: 54° 55.748’N, 005° 43.709’W
Larne Lough may be approached on either side of the 0.8 metre Hunter Rock that lies two and a half miles northeast of the entrance - or 036° from Ferris Point the entrance’s eastern point. Hunter Rock is marked by North and South Cardinal Light buoys and this well-marked shoal is the only danger here.
North Hunter - VQ position: 54° 53.046’N, 005 45.114’W
South Hunter - VQ (6) + LFl 10s position: 54° 52.691’N, 005 45.284’W
FOR A SOUTHERN COASTAL APPROACH
Approaching from the south Black Head lighthouse resides on the northern extremity of Belfast Lough.
Blackhead Lighthouse - Fl 3s 45m 27M position: 54° 46.016’N, 005° 41.338’W
Belfast Lough’s northern shoreline presents itself as a vertical black basaltic rock cliff face. This extends out to the 63 metre high rounded knuckle at Black Head where the white eight sided tower resides. The headland of Black Head however is not particularly noticeable from seaward owing to Muldersleigh Hill standing behind it rising to a height of 128 metres one kilometre inland. However White Head, residing a mile and a half inside Belfast Lough to the south-southwest, is more easily identified by the 90 metres high white limestone cliffs it presents seaward. Deep water can be found here close in and there are no off-lying obstructions.
To the northward of Black Head, the coast of Islandmagee presents a steep perpendicular cliff, composed of black basaltic rocks, that at ‘The Gobbins’ is 45 metres high, again with deep water close in.
The Isle of Muck resides close off the black basaltic cliffs of Islandmagee, 5 miles to the north of Black Head. The 37 metres high island is bare, green and presents perpendicular sea facing cliffs to the east. Round the eastern seaward side of the island and keep at least a hundred metres off the north-most point. Please note the island is attached to the shore by a narrow neck of shingle beach that exposes at low water. It is possible to achieve up to two metres at high water springs over the narrow connecting ridge and pass between the islet and Islandmagee shore. However one would need to be paying attention to tides and timing plus a vessels draft to be certain of the requisite depth. Hence we recommend that the island is rounded on the outside.
Upon rounding the Isle of Muck, steer northwest-by-north, for 3 miles alongside Islandmagee’s precipitous cliffs that range from 15 to 31 metres in height. There are no obstructions 150 metres offshore of Islandmagee and outside the 5 metre contour in this area.
Those following the coastline should give Skernaghan Point
However give Skernaghan Point, the northern most point of Islandmagee, a berth of 500 metres to avoid a rocky outcrop that stretches out northward from it.
Likewise, upon rounding Skernaghan Point, one should keep at least 200 metres off Barr and Ferris Points as a vessel continues towards Larne Harbour Initial Fix and entrance to the mouth of the Lough.
FOR THE FINAL APPROACH
Berthing yachts should take care not to impede commercial traffic approaching Larne. There are as many as eight thousand ship movements a year here, twenty four hours a day. Most ships head directly to Scotland by passing south of the Maidens. Occasionally vessels, that are awaiting berthing space in Larne, do pass to the north and then inside the Maidens.
When approaching it is recommended that you make ‘Larne Port Control’ aware of your intentions who will advise all mariners on ship movements, weather, tide, etc. The call sign for the Port of Larne is 'Larne Port Control' on VHF Ch. 14, telephone 028 28 872179.
From the initial fix close to No. 1 Green buoy, Q (3) 10s, you may come straight in on the leading lights, in line 184°, if the harbour is free of commercial shipping movements.
Front light Beacon No. 11 - Oc4s position: 54°49.597N, 005°47' 806’W
Beacon No. 11 is a white diamond, red stripe, on red pile structure 6 metres high. The rear light, Beacon No 12, is a white diamond, red stripe on aluminium round tower, 14 metres high approximately 600 metres further south.
Several landmarks may be clearly seen from here. Chaine Tower, a tall grey tower with conical top standing on Sandy Point marks the Western side of the entrance to Larne Lough. Approximately 700 metres east-southeast of this is Ferris Point a disused lighthouse with its square white watch tower and surrounding white walls upon the opposite, eastern, side. Behind this is the red brick Ballylumford Power Station with three 126 metres high concrete chimneys.
Track in on the transit toward these landmarks past the No. 3 Green buoy Fl (2) G 6s and you will find the 180 metres wide entrance channel providing at least 8 metres of water all the way through. On entering steer between the quays to starboard and two pile beacons to port: North Pile - Fl.R.3s black metal post, square cage topmark, and South Pile - FI(2)R.6s white metal post, cone topmark.
The shallow (0.6 metres LWS in the basin) Ballylumford Boat Harbour is on the port hand side or the east side of the harbour entrance channel. This resides approximately 400 metres south of Ferris Point and is 60 x 40 metres in size. This is suitable for small shallow draft vessels or those that can take to the hard. It is completely protected but gets crowded in summer.
The best anchorage is southwest of the Yellow Stone in the upper Lough. This is a large moss-covered rock on the shore (painted occasionally), nearly three-quarters of a mile in from Ferris Point Light House, east of the L-shaped wharf and opposite No.7 buoy. Five metres is available here at low water and there is very little tide. It offers complete protection against all winds and sea. Visitors moorings are also reported to be available in this area. Please note the Ballylumford gas fired power station has an outfall pipeline running north-south here. It is marked by a red spar and should be avoided.
It is also possible to anchor on the opposite (western) side at the south end of the harbour and ferry terminal. Anchoring is permitted in the area that resides south from the end of Phoenix Quay and northwest of a line from the Curran Point to the No.5 buoy, Q G. There are moorings for yachts here however these are usually fully occupied by local boats that leave little room for visitors. Try VHF 37 for berthing instructions. A drying berth may be available alongside Wymer's Jetty in this location or at East Antrim Boat Club’s slip close by.
There are more anchorages in the Lough than we have posted and especially so for shallow draft vessels that can take to the hard. Although the Lough presents a large surface at high water the rest of it consists mainly of drying flats and shoal banks of fine muddy sand, particularly so on the west side.
What are the tides here?
Today's local tide estimates are based on High Water Belfast +0004
Today's Belfast tides — High water: 06:35, 19:21, Low water: 00:21, 12:52
Today's Dover tides — High water: 06:31, 19:04, Low water: 01:12, 13:41 (From Tide Times)
High Water Dover +0100, Belfast + 0005
MHWS 2.8m MHWN 2.5m MLWN 0.8m MLWS 0.4m
Tidal streams Isle of Muck
HW Dover -0445 South going; HW Dover +0115 North going; Spring rate 6 knots
A useful eddy runs in a southeast direction along the coast to the northwest of the Isle of Muck during the second half of the main north going stream. Please note that a race and overfalls occur one and a half miles east of the Isle where the north going eddy collides with the main south going stream.
Tidal streams outside of Hunter Rock run in line with the general direction of the coast. Inside Hunter Rock the streams gradually shift to run across the entrance to Larne Lough.
What facilities are available?
Larne is classified as a Large Town and with a population of over 18,000 people it has all the fresh provisions you would expect to service its community. Fresh water is laid on at Wymers Pier where a hose is available and fuel oil is supplied by road tanker. You can come alongside the commercial quays to get fuel via arrangements with the harbour office. Minor repairs can be undertaken by local firms and major repairs can be dealt with in Belfast. There is a passenger ferry from Islandmagee to Larne (+4428 2827 3785 for timetable).
The port operates the shortest sea route to mainland Britain and there are frequent vehicle ferry services, including fast craft, to Cairnryan and freight services to Troon and Fleetwood. This shipping activity is well connected to public transport networks. Larne has two train stations, Larne Town and Larne Harbour in the ferry terminal. Larne Town provides an hourly Belfast Central service whilst the ferry terminal service is timed to connect with the ferries. The Belfast Central journey takes an hour and excellent onward connections are available from there. International air services from Belfast International Airport 32 km SW and Belfast City Airport (domestic flights only).
What emergency contacts are there?
Belfast Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC). Operational Area: Northern Ireland/ Irish Republic Border, Lough Foyle to Northern/Irish Republic Border Carlingford Lough. Belfast Coastguard (MRSC) VHF Ch 16, liaises closely with IRCG. Emergencies are worked on 16, 67 and working channel.
Alternatively, or if ashore, phone 999 and 112 and ask for ‘Marine Rescue’. Police, Fire and Rescue are also available on this number. Belfast (MRSC) may be contacted directly on +44 2891 463 933. Auxiliary coastguard stations and lifesaving appliances are maintained at Portmuck and Larne.
Other useful contacts in this area:
Port of Larne
VHF: Ch. 14 'Larne Port Control'
Phone: +44 28 28 872179.
East Antrim Boat Club,
Address: Curran Point, Larne, County Antrim, BT40 1AU
Phone: +44 28 277204; VHF: 37
Doctor: +44 28 275331; Police +44 28 272266
Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred in Larne Harbour.
What navigational resources are available for this area?
British Admiralty 1411 ‘Irish Sea - Western Part’ and 2724 ‘North Channel to the Firth of Lorne’ scale 200,000:1 plus 2198 ‘North Channel - Southern Part’ scale of 75,000:1 is a good planning chart for the area. The key detail chart is British Admiralty 1237 ‘Larne Lough and Approaches’ scale of 10,000:1. Also Imray chart C62 – ‘Irish Sea’ Chart C64 ‘Belfast Lough to Crinan and Islay’ plus Northern Ireland Ordinance Survey No. 9 at a scale of 1:50,000 for inland details. OpenStreetMap provides local maps that include relief details plus walking and cycle routes for this locality.
With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades.
Please note inyourfootsteps.com makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site.