Today's local tide estimates
HW 01:00, LW 05:41
HW 11:52, LW 17:53
NNW Force 6, Partly Cloudy, 7°C
Direction N, height 0.5 metres, period 0.1 seconds, significant wave height of 1.4 metres.
A good location with attentive navigation required for access.
2.2 metres (7.22 feet).
Shelter See it »
Sheltered: N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W
Haven position? See it »
54° 49.716' N, 005° 45.818' W
Where is that position? See it »
This anchorage is within Larne Lough and off Islandmagee’s western shore. The position is immediately south of the small spit of headland extending south from Ballydowan upon the lough’s eastern shore.
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° that leads through the centre of the entrance channel.
Why visit here?
Ballydowan is situated on the sparsely populated western shore of Islandmagee (from the Irish: Oileán MhicAodha meaning "MacAodha's island"). The island is truly a peninsula located between the towns of Larne and Carrickfergus with Larne Lough separating it from the mainland. Ballydowan was originally a lime kiln and its disused remains are visible today ashore.
The island has a long history that dates back to the mesolithic period. Neolithic houses have been excavated on Islandmagee peninsula and finds include Neolithic pottery, polished stone axe fragments, flint arrowheads and javelin heads. Indeed at Ballylig, upon Larne Lough, two dugout boats were found in peat that were radiocarbon dated to approximately 3500 BC. The island hosts the Ballylumford Dolmen that is estimated to have been constructed in 2000 BC. Known locally as the "Druid's Altar", it consists of four upright stones, with a heavy capstone.
Curiously, and in relatively modern history of 1710 and 1711, arrests were made in Islandmagee that led to Ireland's last ever witch trial in Carrickfergus. Eight women were convicted of witch craft. They were sentenced to one year's imprisonment and were each to be four times pilloried.
Today this remote anchorage is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Larne. Hidden away behind the gentle gradients upon Islandmagee’s western shore upon the sheltered waters of Larne Lough.
How to get in?
FROM LARNE HARBOUR Larne Harbour is situated at the entrance to Larne Lough with port installations on both sides. Use the Larne Harbour entry for guidance on how to approach the harbour from the Irish Sea and enter the Lough.
After entering the harbour continue south past Ballylumford Power Station and its pier, between the L-shaped ‘A’ wharf and No.7 buoy and then along the western shore of Islandmagee. Here you will find the eastern shore of the inner Lough is covered by a gravelly foreshore that dries up to 200 metres off. Outside of this there is a 200 metres wide channel that carries 6 metres of water for half a mile, then 4 metres falling to 2 metres abreast of Mill Bay.
Ballydowan is approximately a mile and a half from the main harbour and will be easily located by the local boats moored there. Anchor 100 metres offshore in depths of 2 to 3 metres to the northwest of local boats. There is good holding here and very little tidal flow.
Please note there is a wreck of a schooner within this anchorage and its masts no longer shows at high water. It is marked on Admiralty 1237 and lies 100 metres off the shore approximately 250 metres southeast of the tip of Ballydowan.
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: 11:48, , Low water: 05:37, 17:49
Today's Dover tides — High water: 11:41, , Low water: 06:54, 19:17 (From Tide Times)
High Water Dover +0100, Belfast + 0005
MHWS 2.8m MHWN 2.5m MLWN 0.8m MLWS 0.4m
Tidal streams are negligible at Ballydowan
What facilities are available?
There are no facilities at Ballydowan and little or nothing ashore apart from an old disused lime kiln. There is a small settlement to the southeast in Mill Bay.
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 872179.
East Antrim Boat Club,
Address: Curran Point, Larne, County Antrim, BT40 1AU
Phone: +44 28 2827 7204; VHF: 37
Doctor: +44 28 275331; Police +44 28 272266
Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred in Ballydowan.
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.
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