Today's local tide estimates
LW 04:11, HW 10:15
LW 16:25, HW 22:40
NNW Force 7, Light rain shower, 8°C
Direction N, height 0.6 metres, period 0.1 seconds, significant wave height of 0.9 metres.
A good location with straightforward access.
3 metres (9.84 feet).
Shelter See it »
Sheltered: E, SE, S, SW, W
Unprotected: N, NE, NW
Anchorage, landing by tender, village, scenic.
Basic shopping, toilets, post office, bus, walks, family recreation.
Haven position? See it »
54° 51.300' N, 005° 46.250' W
Where is that position? See it »
This an anchoring position within Brown’s Bay’s south-western corner.
What is the initial fix? See it »
The following Brown’s Bay Initial Fix waypoint will set up a final approach:
54° 51.900' N, 005° 46.000' W
Half a mile north of the centre of the Bay offset to the Skernaghan Point side – to avoid taking a southern approach close to the rock pit off Skernaghan Point. Come south into the bay from this point.
Why visit here?
Islandmagee (from the Irish: Oileán MhicAodha meaning "MacAodha's island") is truly a peninsula located between the towns of Larne and Carrickfergus with Larne Lough separating from the mainland. With rugged basalt cliffs, sandy beaches and idyllic rural surroundings, Islandmagee is highly picturesque and Brown’s Bay is one of the most popular cove’s and protected sandy beach’s upon the peninsula.
The 'Island', as it is known locally, is eight miles long and contains scattered farms with quiet lanes fringed by hedgerows that divide the green fields. The area is famous for its sense of old world charm that time has passed by. The people here are locally called ‘bean eaters’ owing to an old agricultural crop rotation programme in which beans were grown to supply nitrogen to the soil. Akin to islanders they enjoy a self-reliant reputation and reportedly provide more master mariners for its size than any other locality in Ireland. This sense of history is treasured and guarded by the very friendly local community who are proud of their combined seafaring and farming traditions.
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, flint arrowheads, javelin heads and polished stone axe fragments. In 1962 a number of graves with well-preserved skeletons were found at Brown's Bay, along with a number of other items that dated a settlement back to 2000 BC. In addition to this the island itself hosts the Ballylumford Dolmen that is estimated to have been constructed in the same time period.
This is a good anchorage to come ashore and enjoy the northern promontories of Islandmagee with some very good coastal walks to Skernaghan Point, beside Brown's Bay, at the peninsulas’ northermost tip.
There is a well marked and easy ‘Skernaghan Point walk’ from Brown’s Bay. The walk takes participants onto 90 acres of open access National Trust property that extends a considerable distance inland where it is permitted to cross fields using the stiles provided. For those with young children you will find an excellent safe beach to let them loose upon in Brown’s Bay.
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
The bay may be approached on either side of the 0.8 metre Hunter Rock that lies two and a half miles northeast of the entrance. 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
The Initial fix will be found half a mile north of the centre of the bay.
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. 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. The Brown’s Bay initial fix is offset to the Skernaghan Point side in order to avoid taking a vessel approaching from the south close to the rock pit off Skernaghan Point.
FOR THE FINAL APPROACH
Berthing yachts should take care not to impede commercial traffic approaching Larne. 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.
Once the initial fix has been achieved come south into the bay. Depending upon the prevailing wind conditions select either the west or east side of the bay where 2 metres may be found close to either headland or in the centre. The head of the bay shelves so stay well offshore of the beach. Find a location to make the best of the prevailing conditions and anchor in sand.
Please note, akin to rounding Skernaghan Point, vessels approach from Larne Lough or vice versa should keep at least 200 metres off Barr and Ferris Points.
What are the tides here?
Today's local tide estimates are based on High Water Belfast +0004
Today's Belfast tides — High water: 10:11, 22:36, Low water: 04:07, 16:21
Today's Dover tides — High water: 10:10, 22:29, Low water: 05:06, 17:32 (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?
Public Toilets are available at Brown's Bay car plus a shop and a post office. There is a bus service to the 1.5 miles distant Larne Harbour where Islandmagee passenger ferry (+44 28 27 3785 for timetable) will take you to the mainland.
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 Brown’s Bay.
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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