What is the route?
This 90 nautical mile route takes you down the north part of the Irish Sea hugging the Irish coastline. It goes from Bangor, Belfast Lough to Howth Dublin as follows.
Inside Copland Island, via Donaghadee Sound, inside the South Rock Light Vessel, outside Rockabill, outside Lambay, outside Irelands Eye.
Why sail this route?
The reason to sail this route is you can get 12 hours plus of continuous favourable tide utilising the converging and diverging tides south of St John’s point.
If you look at the tidal streams atlas you can see the water is always slack south of St John’s point. North of this the tides runs in an opposite directions to that on south of this slack. Hence you can capitalise on this phenomenon by taking six hours of tide to St John’s point and then after traversing half an hour of slack pick up the south going tide that is once again favourable. The phenomenon can be used for both north and southbound passages. You need to be able to maintain around six knots to get a favourable tide all the way.
What are the navigational notes?
Be outside Bangor Harbour entrance five hours after low high water Dover (Bangor is Dover +0007) to pick up a small shore hugging back eddy out to Donaghadee Sound. The use the waypoints set out below.
This tide optimisation works both ways and at the same departure time. All north bound boats need to do is be outside Howth Harbour entrance five hours after high water Dover (0430 after high water Dublin) and depart north.
A slight variation going north would be to pass inside Ireland’s Eye and inside Lambay Island to avail of the extra speed cause by tide funnelling between landmasses.
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.
What weather information is available?
The latest monthly Dover Tides and Cobh Tides courtesy of the National Environmental Research Council. Printable monthly tides for Dublin, Dunmore, Cobh, Galway, Belfast are available from the ISA.
The national weather forecast, Met Éireann and BBC shipping forecasts, plus a very simplified Leinster tourist outlook. From an Atlantic perspective a 24 hour North Atlantic synoptic chart that you may ‘right click’ and save to your hard disk. Met Éireann’s Eastern Atlantic chart and the BBC’s surface area forecast plus visible satellite images for Ireland and Northeast Atlantic from Met Éireann. Wind observations, XC UK & Ireland, Windguru wind & wave reports, and Windfinder where you can determine a forecast time. Coastal radio stations (VHF Channel) Weather forecast at 0103 and thence every 3 hours updated every sixth. Dublin 83, Wicklow Head 87, Rosslare 23 and Mine Head 83. Radio broadcasts on RTE 1 (89.1FM) 0603, 1253, 1655 and 2355.
What dangers are to be avoided?
You are generally quarter of a mile off the coast for the majority of this passage so be vigilant not to drift inshore of the direct route.
Are there any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a pleasure vessel sailing off the Irish coast.
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Please note inyourfootsteps.com makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not sailed this route 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.