Today's local tide estimates
LW 03:21, HW 09:22
LW 15:38, HW 21:52
NW Force 5, Patchy rain nearby, 8°C
Direction N, height 0.3 metres, period 0.1 seconds, significant wave height of 0.5 metres.
A good location with straightforward access.
3 metres (9.84 feet).
Shelter See it »
Sheltered: N, NE, NW
Unprotected: E, SE, S, SW, W
Anchorage, landing by tender, village, secluded, fish farming area, strong tides.
Supermarket, hot food, public houses, post office, doctor, pharmacy, bus, rail connections, airport within 25 km.
Haven position? See it »
54° 41.530' N, 005° 50.910' W
Where is that position? See it »
This is 400 metres south of Green Island in approximately three metres.
What is the initial fix? See it »
The following Belfast Harbour Initial Fix waypoint will set up a final approach:
54° 41.710' N, 005° 46.225' W
The initial fix is the position of Belfast’s Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, that is situated between Carrickfergus and Grey Point. This safe water marker leads into the Victoria Channel, a five mile southwest-tending fairway that is marked by frequently lit buoys and beacons, that leads into Belfast Harbour.
Why visit here?
The village and stretch of land ashore from the anchorage became known as Greenisland, and is a name derived from the grassy islet.
Initially the area was based around a collection of small town lands with strong connections to Carrickfergus. However the rapid growth of Belfast at the end of the 18th Century and the emergence of wealthy merchants led the area to develop as a popular summer resort for gentlemen. Bassett’s directory of 1888 notes that it was ‘devoted entirely to handsome residences occupied for the greater part by gentlemen engaged in commercial and professional pursuits in Belfast’. As such, the main concentration of houses and amenities commenced on the Shore Road with bathing lodges appearing alongside. Stonepoint was constructed in 1860, and Ravenhill, now transformed into Ravenhill Nursing Home that stands directly west of the islet, dates back to 1820. These provided summer recreation along the lough during the period.
In 1845 the Belfast to Ballymena railway line was constructed providing one of the first transport links to the village from both Belfast and Carrickfergus. The route was via a turntable, then known as Carrickfergus Junction, as a result of the early engines inability to take on the steep gradient of the direct Whiteabbey to Ballymena route. When in 1893 a larger station was constructed in the village the station, and commensurately the area, was finally given the official name of Greenisland.
These improvements in transport and a growth in prosperity led to the development of more semi-detached and terraced houses in the area immediately surrounding the railway station. This continued into the twentieth century when large, predominantly working-class, housing estates were built during the 1950's and 60's. These accommodated factory workers for Carrickfergus or Belfast commuters. Today the village stretches from the shore of Belfast Lough to the foot of Knockagh and is a popular residential location due to its Belfast proximity and attractive Lough shore setting.
The dominating hill Knockagh that overlooks the village is very much worth a visit. Standing above the village the 278 metres high hill is the most imposing physical feature on the north side of Belfast Lough. On its summit stands a basalt obelisk this in itself is the most notable landmark of the surrounding area. The monument commemorates the Co Antrim people who died in the First World War. It was later rededicated in remembrance to those from the County who died in the Second World War when the figures 1939-1945 were added to the inscription.
Knockagh summit rewards the visitor with panoramic views from Carrickfergus to Belfast and across Belfast Lough, with Scotland and the Mourne Mountains in evidence on clear days. Likewise golfers may find the golf course beneath the Knockagh monument of interest. First laid on the slopes in 1894 it is a challenging 9-hole mature parkland golf course with a Par of 71.
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 AN EASTERN AND NORTHERN COASTAL APPROACH
Vessels arriving from the east will find the Copeland Islands of moderate elevation and distinguished by a lighthouse on the westernmost Mew Island. Those approaching from the east and outside Copeland Islands should leave Mew Island well to Port.
Mew Island Lighthouse - Fl (4) 30s 37m 24M position: 54° 41.923’N, 005° 30.824’W
Please note the ‘Northern Race’ and ‘Ram Race’ that occur at various stages of the tide to the east of Mew and Copeland Islands may be highly uncomfortable in strong conditions and should be avoided.
Once past Mew, then Lighthouse Island, continue into Belfast Lough’s open navigable waters to the Initial Fix at the Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, situated in the middle of the Lough between Carrickfergus and Grey Point on the opposite shore. A central path is free of dangers and has plenty of depth all the way up to and beyond the Fairway Light buoy.
Those approaching from Larne Harbour and following the coastline should 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. Upon rounding Skernaghan Point, continue southeast alongside Islandmagee’s 3 miles of precipitous cliffs that range from 15 to 31 metres high as the Isle of Muck and the little harbour of Portmuck will be seen on the starboard bow.
The Isle of Muck is 37 metres high and is a bare, green island presenting perpendicular sea facing cliffs to the east. The island is attached to the shore by a narrow neck of shingle beach. 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.
South of the Isle of Muck to 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 to Black Head. There Blackhead lighthouse resides marking the northern extremity of Belfast Lough.
Blackhead Lighthouse - Fl 3s 45m 27M position: 54° 46.016’N, 005° 41.338’W
South of Black Head the entrance to the Lough opens 6.75 miles wide between the headland and Orlock Point on the south. Its navigable area is free of dangers with an average depth of 11 metres.
Between Black Head and Carrickfergus the shoreline presents itself as a vertical black basaltic rock cliff face with three lit jetties associated with Kilroot Power Station. The first is the Cloghan Jetty located to the south of the easily identifiable 90 metres high white limestone cliffs of White Head, a mile and a half inside Belfast Lough to the south-southwest. This jetty extends out from the shore for more than half a mile and is lit at the end Fl G 3s 2M. Beyond the pierhead a green buoy, QG. 0.5M, resides half a mile off the pier head.
Next is the 350 metres long Salt Jetty off Kilroot, with a light Oc G 10s on its outer end. 0.75M W of the jetty is a 198m high chimney marked by red vertical lights.
Finally there is the Kilroot Jetty unloading berth marked by 2 FG (vert) 6m 2M lights.
Don’t come inshore between Kilroot and Carrickfergus as a drying shoal extends up to 0.5 mile out from the shore. The area should be given a wide berth by making for the initial fix. Carrickfergus Castle, sitting on a rocky promontory overlooking the seafront, immediately east of the harbour will be highly conspicuous on the north shore.
The initial fix is the position of Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, situated in the middle of the lough between Carrickfergus and Grey Point on the opposite shore.
FOR A SOUTHERN COASTAL APPROACH
Donaghadee Sound is the normal route for leisure craft making along this coast when tidal streams are favourable. Although the sound is almost a mile wide, between Copeland Island and the mainland to the southwest, foul ground called the ‘Magic Rocks’ extend nearly half way from Copeland Island’s southwest side. Then Deputy Reef, marked by a red buoy, is situated nearly in the middle of the southern fairway. These contract the channel through the sound to a quarter of a mile in width. This however is well marked for vessels entering and exiting Belfast Lough by the buoyed shipping channel. The key southern entry buoys as follows:
Governor Red Can Buoy - Fl R 3s position: 54° 39.360’N, 005° 31.991’W
Deputy Green Can Buoy - Fl G 2s position: 54° 39.513’N, 005° 31.944’W
Foreland Red Can Buoy - Fl R 6s position: 54° 39.640’N, 005° 32.307’W
Donaghadee Sound streams achieve 4.5 knots in places so tidal planning is essential and great care should be taken during the approach. Pass between the Deputy and Governor buoys and from there to the Foreland Buoy. Once inside Belfast Lough pass the South Briggs Red Can Buoy to port as it marks a dangerous reef extending from the shore.
South Briggs Red Can Buoy – Fl (2) R 10s position: 54° 41.182’N, 005° 35.732’W
Approaching from the south 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. As mentioned above, Carrickfergus Castle, sitting on a rocky promontory overlooking the seafront, immediately east of the harbour will be highly conspicuous.
By contrast the southern shore of the lough is comparatively low and unremarkable except at Grey Point that is a bluff 23 metre high point. From South Briggs keep a watch out for Club Racing Buoys, whilst crossing Groomsport Bay and give Ballymacormick Point half a mile clearance before Ballyholme Bay, the bay immediately east of Bangor Bay. Bangor’s harbour walls plus the towns dominating steeples will be highly visible whilst passing to the north of Bangor Bay.
From South Briggs the run into the initial fix is straightforward across Belfast Lough’s open navigable waters that have ample depth and are free of dangers.
The initial fix is the position of Fairway Light buoy, L Fl 10s, situated in the middle of the Lough between Carrickfergus and Grey Point on the opposite shore.
FOR THE FINAL APPROACH
Green Island resides within the Port of Belfast where all boat movements are controlled and managed. Boats operating in the Port of Belfast area must do so under power with sails down taking care not to impede commercial traffic. Belfast Harbour radio maintains Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) for the Belfast Lough area. Vessels are required to report to Belfast Harbour radio on VHF Channel 12 or 16 or by telephone on 02890 553504 well in advance of arrival and advise them of your intentions.
The initial fix sets up an approach to Port of Belfast via the dredged channel. This is the preferred route and the one that the harbour authorities encourage visiting vessels to use. However, provided advance permission is sought and assented to by Belfast Harbour radio, it is possible for yachts to approach the anchorage along the north shore of the Lough. A distance of 700 metres off the shoreline from Carrickfergus clears all dangers.
From the initial fix that is the position of the Fairway Light buoy, LFl.10s, take a westward path, along the southern side of the Carrickfergus Bank, for approximately three miles to come south of the Green Island.
The small grass covered islet, more appropriate than its name island, stands 3 metre high and resides 150 metres offshore so it should be clearly visible at all states of the tide. A good marker is a small round castellated tower structure that resides on the shoreline, with its foot in the water at high tide, on the opposite point of Jointure Bay, 400 metres to the northeast of the island. During the season you can also expect to see vessels anchored offshore. Once the islet is identified find a position 400 metres south of the islet and anchor in 2 to 3 metres where good sand holding will be found.
Land on the beach in Jointure Bay or alternatively on the beach off the small town of Greenisland half a mile to the west.
Please note there are protected shellfish beds in the surrounding area upon which anchoring is prohibited.
What are the tides here?
Today's local tide estimates are based on High Water Belfast +0002
Today's Belfast tides — High water: 09:20, 21:50, Low water: 03:19, 15:36
Today's Dover tides — High water: 09:24, 21:42, Low water: 04:10, 16:38 (From Tide Times)
High Water Dover +0100, as Belfast Get Dover
MHWS 3.2m MHWN 2.7m MLWN 0.9m MLWS 0.3m
Tidal planning for vessels approaching Belfast Lough is essential. Vessels approaching from the south will encounter tides that run hard in the sounds. Likewise vessels approaching from east, or outside the island group, will encounter races with overfalls as they close in upon the Copeland Island group. At the eastern tip of Mew Island the ‘Ram Race’ initiates and extends 1.5 miles south-by-southeast on the flood and up to 1.75 miles north-by-northwest on the ebb.
From Dover HW +0455 to -0115 (Belfast HW +0510 to -0100) the tide floods southeast. Donaghadee Sound’s spring streams can in places reach up to 4.5 knots in both directions making a favourable tide transit a prerequisite for most leisure craft. Streams largely follow the direction of the channel but it should be noted heavy tide rips in a big seaway may cause overfalls to occur across the southeast end of Donaghadee Sound. From the entrance of Strangford lough however, through to the inner passage, the stream is comparatively weak, not averaging more than 1.5 knots on springs.
Copeland Sound tides are not as strong but still attain rates of up to 2.5 knots with Spring tides. This is however not the preferred channel owing to the two challenging and unmarked rocky shoals called ‘Platters’ and ‘Ninaen Bushes’, the latter with less than a metre of cover situated out half a mile off from the north-east point of Copeland Island. Eddies are very strong elsewhere all around the islands group.
Outside the islands the tides turn about one hour later. On the south going flood a vast eddy forms to the south of Mew Island. This circles back upon itself in the five miles area between the entrance to Donaghadee Sound and Ballyferis Point. Hence the streams off Donaghadee Harbour are 1.5 kn rotary in a clockwise direction on the flood. However when this vast circular eddy of water courses around to collide with the flood tide to the south-southeast of Mew and the ill-famed Ram Race shows its true colours. Thus the area is at its worst after the recirculation on the second half of the flood circa HW Dover -0230 to +0015 or about local HW (HW Belfast -0215 to +0030 or about local HW). Likewise the north-northwest race occurs on the latter half of the ebb from HW Dover +0330 to +0630 (HW Belfast +0345 to +0615 or about local LW).
Northern approaches are less complicated however tidal stream remain very strong running up to 5 or 6 kn off salient points to the north of Belfast Lough.
Between Black Head and White Head tidal streams are negligible with light current, the flood running in and the ebb out of the lough off Carrickfergus. In the middle to outer half of the lough tidal streams rotate and are always less than 1 knot.
What facilities are available?
The secluded anchorage area off Green Island has no facilities. The nearby semi-rural town of Greenisland has a number of shops to cater for its settlement of 5,000 people. These include a grocery shops and newsagents, a petrol filling station, a butcher's shop, a bakery, a chemist, an off-licence, a café, a number of takeaway food outlets plus a hotel and restaurant.
It lies 9 km (7 miles) north-east of Belfast, 5 km (3 miles) south-west of Carrickfergus. A railway station provides direct rail links in both the Belfast and Larne directions, from around 5am until 11pm. Most Ulsterbus Belfast and Carrickfergus to Whitehead bus services take a ten minute detour into the Greenisland estate before continuing to their destination. These provide the village with frequent transport links in each direction.
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.
Other useful contacts in this area:
Belfast Harbour Radio on VHF Ch 12 or 16 or +44 2890 553504
Harbour Master Office +44 2890 553015
Belfast Harbour Police on +44 2890 553000.
N.I. Fire and Rescue Service +44 2892 664221 / 999
Any security concerns?
Never an incident know to have happen to a vessel anchored off Green Island.
What navigational resources are available for this area?
British Admiralty 1753 ‘Belfast Lough and Approaches’, scale of 37,500:1, including ‘Donaghadee Sound’ scale of 15,000:1 and ‘Bangor Bay’ scale of 17,500:1. Imray chart C62 – ‘Irish Sea’ plus Discovery Ordinance Survey map 15 (Belfast - scale of 1:50 000) also cover this area. OpenStreetMap provides local maps that include relief details plus walking and cycle routes for this locality.
With thanks to:
Michael Fitzsimons, Groomsport Harbour Master.
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.