Newtownabbey, County Antrim, Ireland
SummaryA good location with straightforward access.
Exposed today; forecast to be exposed on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
LWS draught3 metres (9.84 feet).
Today's local tide estimatesHW 00:11, LW 06:24
HW 12:40, LW 18:37
We are now on Springs
Swell todayDirection SE, height 0.0 metres, period 3.1 seconds, significant wave height of 0.3 metres.
Local weather outlook
Haven position54° 40.860' N, 005° 52.330' W
Where is that position?This is the position of the ‘Newtownabbey Boat Club’ moorings. It is situated half a mile south by southeast of the club slip where 2 – 3 metres can be found.
What is the initial fix?
What is the story here?Newtownabbey is located on the northeast coast of Ireland, on the northern shores of Belfast Lough, approximately midway between Carrickfergus and Belfast. This is home to ‘Newtownabbey Boat Club’ and it offers an anchorage alongside the club mooring area off the coast.
Deep within Belfast Lough the anchorage provides good protection from northwest through north to northeast. The anchorage is entirely exposed however from east through south to southwest. Whilst subject to very little westerly fetch winds from this direction tend to be accelerated as they funnel down the valley into the Lough. The anchorage itself is unmarked but with few off-lying dangers in the area daylight access is straight forward at any stage of the tide.
Please note Newtownabbey resides within the Port of Belfast where all boat movements are controlled and managed. Visiting vessels must make Belfast Harbour Radio aware of intentions prior to approach and stay in contact throughout the berthing process. Vessels operating within the Port of Belfast area must do so under power with sails down taking care not to impede commercial traffic. Regular fast ferries travel in and out of Belfast Lough. If crossing the entrance to Belfast Lough a good watch must be maintained and a vessel should be prepared to be unexpectedly struck by the wash at all times.
Not what you need?
Cultra - 2.5 miles SE
Helen’s Bay - 4.9 miles E
Bangor Harbour & Marina - 7 miles E
Ballyholme Bay - 7.6 miles E
Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 2.7 miles NE
Whitehead - 7.1 miles NE
Portmuck - 11.2 miles NNE
Brown’s Bay - 11 miles NNE
Why visit here?Newtownabbey was formed from existing villages in the district, including Jordanstown, in 1958. When in the seventies the village of Ballyclare, plus its rural hinterland, was also included the area was awarded the status of borough. Today Newtownabbey is considered a residential continuation of Belfast.
Although rural in appearance, with the district's light agricultural activity centred around Ballyclare, it largely derives its income from Belfast city plus surrounding modern industrial complexes that manufacture textiles, telephones and tires. Jordanstown was a semi-rural district until the 1950s when it expanded rapidly with housing development. It has recently been voted the fifth most attractive place to live in Northern Ireland. The combined Belfast Lough adjacency plus a convenient railway station, providing access to Belfast city centre, makes it a highly attractive location for Northern Ireland’s middle classes.
Historically Carnmoney Hill, situated directly west of the anchorage, is the site of many souterrains and ‘raths’ or ‘forts’ including the ‘Dunanney Rath’ that date back to Celtic times. In later times Newtownabbey was strongly linked with the industrial revolution and old mill buildings are a prominent feature of this area. Evidence of the industrial revolution legacy may also be found in Carnmoney Parish Church graveyard situated on the southern face of Carnmoney Hill. The final resting place of Nicholas Grimshaw is located here. He founded Ireland’s first cotton mill at Whitehouse in 1784.
For the visiting boatman Newtownabbey combines a unique mix of rural and urban life with a wide range of activities for the entire family to enjoy. In inclement weather the areas leisure centres such as the ‘Sixmile Leisure Centre’, Ballyclare, featuring a unique 48 metre “lazy river” waterslide and ‘The Valley’, Northern Ireland’s largest leisure centre, that offer a host of facilities. The Ballyearl Arts & Leisure Centre has a unique country club setting plus a rare fusion of sports and arts recreation. Glengormley on the other hand has the ‘Movie House Cinema’ that provides three shows a day plus ten pin bowling at the ‘Sports Bowl’. Additionally Newtownabbey has golf courses for all abilities. Eighteen hole parkland courses are available at Ballyclare and Greenacres providing challenging tree-lined fairways in the rolling County Antrim countryside. Tennis and outdoor bowling are available in a number of local parks in the Jordanstown area.
The seafront park immediately ashore, called Loughshore Park, hosts various events throughout the year including the three day ‘Loughshore Festival’ in the last weekend in August. Likewise on the Tuesday of the May Fair week the ‘Ballyclare May Fair’ hosts one of the oldest horse fairs in Ireland. Horse dealers from all over Ireland converge to create a crucible of dealing and haggling.
For those who prefer the quieter life Jordanstown, Loughshore and Hazelbank Park provide some of the best shoreline walks around Belfast Lough. A wide variety of birds may be observed feeding on the mudflats and roosting on favoured parts of the shoreline at high water. These include Oystercatchers, Great Crested Grebes, Redshanks, Curlews, Dunlins and Black-tailed Godwits.
Newtownabbey has much more to offer the cruising boatman than good northwesterly protection. The open spaces of its semirural situation, located close to arts and entertainment venues in both Newtownabbey plus the hustle, bustle and nightlife of the city of Belfast make it a unique location.
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
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
Vessels arriving from the south or east will find the Copeland Islands of moderate elevation and distinguished by a lighthouse on the westernmost Mew Island. The approach options are to either come up outside the Copelands group or through Donaghadee Sound that resides between the mainland and the Islands.
Those approaching outside Copeland Islands should leave Mew Island well to Port and the run into the initial fix is straightforward across Belfast Lough’s open navigable waters that are free of dangers.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Newtownabbey 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 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, the No. 3 Green buoy, Fl (3) G 7.5s plus the No. 4 Red buoy port hand marker Fl (2) R 5s will be seen less than a mile and a half to the southwest and a vessel should proceed to pass between them.
After passing the No. 3 Green starboard hand marker a vessel can turn to starboard and exit the fairway on a bearing of 260° (T). The mooring area is just over two miles from here and the ‘Newtownabbey Boat Club’ vessels should be highly visible. Anchor in sand in 2 to 3 metres outside the yacht mooring area. Land by dinghy at the club slip located half a mile to the northwest of the moorings.
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 waters: 00:09, 12:38, Low waters: 06:22, 18:35
Today's Dover tides — High waters: 00:02, 12:27, Low waters: 07:46, 20:07 (From Tide Times)
We are now on Springs, need more detailed tidal planning information?
High Water Dover +0100, as Belfast get Dover tides
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.
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?Save for the slip ‘Newtownabbey Boat Club’ has no other facilities. Nearby Newtownabbey has very good shopping capabilities to service its population of 80,000 but Jordanstown, immediately ashore, has very little to cater for its smaller settlement of 5,500 people. The nearest shops to the anchoring position are at Whiteabbey approximately one mile along the shoreline towards Belfast.
Newtownabbey resides just over a dozen kilometres northeast on train line. Belfast has excellent transport connections via trains and bus service to any location in Ireland. Flights to domestic and international destinations operate from Belfast International Airport, the main regional airport, and George Best Belfast City Airport. Both are within a twenty-minute drive of Newtownabbey. There are more than 80 weekly ferry sailings from Belfast to UK ports.
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
Newtownabbey Boat Club , 745-747 Shore Rd, Jordanstown, Newtownabbey.
Phone: +44 289 086 5830
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 Newtownabbey.
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 Evans, Deputy Harbour Master, Belfast Harbour.
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