Donaghadee Harbour, County Down, Ireland
SummaryA tolerable location with straightforward access.
Forecast to be exposed on Friday.
LWS draught2.5 metres (8.2 feet).
Today's local tide estimatesLW 02:45, HW 08:45
LW 15:08, HW 21:21
We are now on Neaps
Swell todayDirection N, height 0.0 metres, period 0.0 seconds, significant wave height of 0.5 metres.
Local weather outlook
Haven position54° 38.707' N, 005° 31.860' W
Where is that position?The position of Donaghadee Lighthouse, a white tower Iso WR 4s 16m 18/14M, standing on the head of the south pier.
What is the initial fix?
What is the story here?Donaghadee Harbour is located on the northeast coast of Ireland one and a half miles south of Copeland Island that lies outside the entrance to Belfast Lough. It is a small fishing port that offers an open harbour where vessels may berth alongside.
In the absence of scend the harbour offers a tolerable berth with straightforward access night or day, at any stage of the tide.
Please note you can get a heavy scend around the harbour with onshore winds and Donaghadee should be completely avoided with moderate easterly conditions.
Not what you need?
Ballywalter - 6.3 miles SSE
Ballyhalbert Bay - 9.8 miles SSE
Portavogie Harbour - 11.8 miles SSE
Portaferry - 16 miles S
Port Dandy - 1.9 miles NNW
Groomsport - 3.6 miles WNW
Ballyholme Bay - 4.4 miles WNW
Bangor Harbour & Marina - 5.1 miles WNW
Why visit here?Donaghadee (Gaelic; "Domhnach Daoi", meaning "Dee's church" colloquially known as the 'Dee') is a classic Northern Ireland town and fishing port that has kept pace with the times while somehow managing to preserve much of its past glory.
The town is probably best known for its lighthouse and harbour. Being the nearest port to Scotland the harbour was constructed to support the Irish Mail Packet service to Portpatrick, Scotland, 13 km/21 miles to the northeast. Its massive walls and lighthouse were completed in the 1820s by John Rennie, creator of several of London's bridges. His resident engineer was a seasoned marine builder and fellow Scot, David Logan, who assisted Robert Stevenson build the legendary Bell Rock Lighthouse. The ferry service went back and forth across the narrow North Channel to Portpatrick for decades until it was eventually transferred to Larne in 1849. The two massive stone piers stand today as relics to the former importance of the harbour when it was the terminal.
The other most prominent features of the town is the Motte, or the Moat as it is known. The original mound of the Moat was of Norman origin, when a motte and bailey stood on the site. It was initially used as a defensive structure, and provided an excellent look-out post over the town and seawards towards the Copeland Islands. The castellated powder house structure standing there today was built in 1818 to house the explosives required for blasting during the harbour construction. Now, on a clear day the monument provides a good vantage point of the Scottish coast.
The lifeboat station at Donaghadee harbour, where the Trent class Lifeboat currently exists, was founded in 1910 and is one of the most important and decorated on the Irish coast. Notably in January 1953 the lifeboat rescued thirty two survivors in the Irish Sea from the stricken Larne–Stranraer car ferry, MV Princess Victoria.
Finally the town boasts a notable pub Grace Neill's that is supposed to be the oldest pub in Ireland. Opened in 1611, as the ’King’s Arms’, Peter the Great is claimed to be a visitor in 1697.
Donaghadee has changed little in the past century, calmly retaining its charm and character in a fast changing world, thus making for a wonderful visit for the cruising boatman.
How to get in?Donaghadee Harbour has open seaward access to the south and east but those arriving from the north have to either come up outside the Mew and Copeland Islands or through Donaghadee Sound that resides between the mainland and the Islands.
If you are coming outside the islands, leave Mew and Copeland Islands well clear to starboard and the run into the harbour is straightforward.
Mew Island Lighthouse - Fl (4) 30s 37m 24M position: 54° 41.923’N, 005° 30.824’W
Please make a note of the ‘Northern Race’ and ‘Ram Race’ if doing so. These are races that occur at various stages of the tide to the east of the islands and may be uncomfortable in strong conditions.
For those travelling through Donaghadee Sound, the inside coast of the Copeland Island, there is a buoyed shipping channel for vessels using Belfast Lough. A useful set of routing waypoints available in the ‘Route’ ’Bangor, Belfast Lough - Dublin on 12 hours of favourable tide – both ways’.
From the initial fix Donaghadee Lighthouse, a white tower Iso WR 4s 16m 18/14M, standing on the head of the south pier, is half a mile off and will be clearly visible.
From there track in on a bearing of 234°, keeping Donaghadee Church (600 further metres inshore) between the pierheads, all the way in.
This northeastern approach takes a vessel clear to the north of the Wee Scotchman Rocks that extend 65 metres east-northeast from the South Pier where Donaghadee Lighthouse stands. Please note there is also foul ground to the north of the North Pier.
The harbour consists of a single tidal basin with two very large independent piers running north westwards out to sea. Unusually the North Pier is detached from the mainland and acts more as an isolated breakwater whilst the south extends from the shoreline. Both run parallel nearer the shore and converge to a width of 46 metres at the entrance to the harbour mouth.
Once between the piers turn hard to port as the single visitor berth is to be found to the southeast at the end of the South Pier. Alongside lifeboat depths from 2.1 to 2.7 metres may be found at low water over a 30 metre stretch of the pier. Beyond this the harbour gradually shelves to shore.
When approaching the entrance be prepared for a strong cross tide along the entrance making it advisable to use power. The blanketing effect from the tall piers may also stall those entering under sail.
If the harbour becomes uncomfortable, or an adverse weather forecast is received, it is recommended that an approach be made to the harbour master for advice regarding availability of berths in Copelands Marina. This is a very well protected, but often overcrowded marina six hundred metres to the south.
What are the tides here?Today's local tide estimates are based on High Water Belfast +0020
Today's Belfast tides — High waters: 08:25, 21:01, Low waters: 02:25, 14:48
Today's Dover tides — High waters: 08:34, 20:53, Low waters: 03:12, 15:42 (From Tide Times)
We are now on Neaps, need more detailed tidal planning information?
High Water Dover +0025
MHWS 4.0m MHWN 3.4m MLWN 1.1m MLWS 0.5m
The above image represents the current tidal stream off this haven in local time. Click [+] to advance the estimate by an hour and click [ - ] to step back. Future tidal planning is best accomplished by extracting the date's Dover Tide HW , and clicking [+] or [ - ] based on the presented Dover offset. Do you need information on the tidal graphics?
What facilities are available?Water, diesel, electricity are all available at the south pier and some repairs available locally. Donaghadee is very convenient as shops, pubs, restaurants that serve the local population, in excess of six thousand, are easily reached within a small area local to the harbour. Donaghadee Sailing Club welcomes visitors and is open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The harbour is about 29 km (18 miles) from Belfast and about 13 km (8 miles) northeast of Newtownards. A bus service is available to Belfast that offers connection to any location in Ireland. Likewise flights to domestic and international destinations operate from Belfast City and Belfast International Airports. There are frequent ferry crossings from Belfast and Larne.
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. An RNLI Trent class Lifeboat is based at the Donaghadee.
Other useful contacts in this area:
Harbour Master +44 2891 88 2377 VHF: Ch. 68
Police: +44 2891 88 2526
Doctor on call (outside normal hours): +44 2891 822344
Hospital (Newtownards): +44 2891 812661
(Ulster, Dundonald): +44 2890 484511
Any security concerns?Never an issue know to have occurred at Donaghadee.
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’. ’Sailing Directions - Irish Cruising Club - East & North Coasts of Ireland’ provides an excellent pilot for this area. OpenStreetMap provides local maps that include relief details plus walking and cycle routes for this locality.
With thanks to:Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner - navigation and sail training available - details here: http://www.sailsoutheast.com/
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