Saltpan Bay, Lambay Island, County Dublin, Ireland
Summary* Restrictions applyA good location with straightforward access.
Exposed today; forecast to be exposed on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
LWS draught5 metres (16.4 feet).
Today's local tide estimatesLW 00:07, HW 06:47
LW 12:53, HW 19:32
We are now on Neaps
Swell todayDirection N, height 0.0 metres, period 0.0 seconds, significant wave height of 0.1 metres.
Local weather outlook
Haven position53° 29.800' N, 006° 1.272' W
Where is that position?Upon the five metre contour in the middle of the bay.
What is the initial fix?
What is the story here?Lambay Island is a small island, about 2.5 square kilometres in size, situated two miles off the coast of north county Dublin and approximately six miles north of Howth. Saltpan Bay, formerly Swallow Cove, is situated on the north side of the island close off the northwest point.
With its high sheer cliffs and deep water, facilitating close in anchoring, the secluded bay offers excellent shelter from the west through south to southeast winds. In most southerly conditions the anchorage will be found to be completely free from swell and calm.
Navigation is very straightforward although daylight is required as there are no markings. Access from the north round to east is completely unimpeded, whilst approaches from other directions require basic navigation.
Please note in light north to north-easterly conditions select Talbot Bay close to the southwester corner of Lambay Island. In heavy northerly conditions you should select Howth harbour.
Not what you need?
Off the boat harbour - 0.5 miles WSW
Malahide - 5.3 miles WSW
Carrigeen Bay - 5.9 miles SSW
Howth - 6.4 miles SSW
Skerries Bay and Harbour - 6.1 miles NNW
Balbriggan Harbour - 8.9 miles NW
Drogheda & The River Boyne - 17.4 miles NW
Port Oriel (Clogher Head) - 19.4 miles NNW
Why visit here?The extensive Saltpan Bay with its high protective sheer cliffs and excellent holding is perhaps one of the best anchorages on the east coast of Ireland.
You can anchor right up against the cliff face in deep water and listen to the raucous calls of the seabirds and observe them at close quarters both on the cliffs and on the surrounding water. Indeed you should pack a fishing rod and plan to join them hunting as there is good mackerel fishing here. You can almost bank on getting a fresh tea in Saltpan Bay.
It is a perfect secluded escape into a nature reserve, just a short sail from the hustling, bustling capital coast of Ireland. In addition, this island has a rich and interesting story to tell. Though small, 250 hectares in area and rising to Knockbane’s 127m high point, Lambay Island is both the largest island off Ireland’s east coast and the easternmost point in the Republic of Ireland.
Lambay ancient name was ‘Reachra’ in Irish meaning place of many shipwrecks – a feature tragically demonstrated in more modern times by the events surrounding the RMS ‘Tayleur’ described below. The early Irish name was eventually replaced by the Viking word Lambay, meaning Lamb Island. This most likely originated from a practice of sending ewes to the island for the summer grazing and returning them to the mainland in autumn at the time.
People have occupied Lambay from perhaps as early 7,000 B.C. to the present day. Lambay was important in the Neolithic period in Ireland as a ground stone axe quarrying and production site. Two outcrops of porphyritic andesite or Lambay porphyry as it is more commonly known were utilised. The quarry site is unusual in the British Isles for being the only Neolithic stone axe quarry with evidence for all stages of production, from quarrying to final polishing. A number of Iron Age burials were discovered in 1927 on Lambay during repair works on the islands harbour.
There is no evidence to say the Romans made it to the Irish mainland, but they did get to Lambay, traded with it, and called it Limnios. A number of Romano-British items have been found on the island and interpreted as evidence for the arrival of a small group of British refugees from Brigantia, fleeing the Roman conquest in A.D. 71-74.
St. Colmcille is said to have established a monastic settlement on Lambay ca. 530 A.D., and Ireland's Viking period began with a raid on this place in 795. After the Battle of the Boyne in 1691, a 15th Century castle was used as a concentration camp for the defeated Jacobite troops. More than one thousand were imprisoned there, some died of wounds and starvation. The castle was subsequently turned into a mansion around 1900, is now an occupied family home.
The saddest episode in Lambay’ history occurred on Saturday, 21st January 1854, just south west of ‘The Nose’ on the east side. On that fateful night, in thick weather the aforementioned RMS ‘Tayleur’ struck Lambay.
The ‘Tayleur’ was an ironclad clipper with a weight of 1979 tons. The vessel was the largest sailing merchantman built at that time in England and with masts 45m high the vessel was built for speed more than manoeuvrability. Two days earlier ‘Tayleur’ had departed ‘Mersey’ on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne. Aboard it had 579 emigrants, 80% of whom were Irish, bound for the Gold fields of Australia.
There were many contributing reasons for the ‘Tayleur’ tragedy. The vessel had not been turned fully cargo laden before it left the Mersey. The compass had been reacting to the vessels iron cladding and no one had yet worked out how to correct it. The ship was undermanned and the inexperienced crew, mostly Chinese, didn't understand the Captain's orders.
In shallow water, of what has come to be known as Tayleur Bay, the ship died slowly against the rocks. Some passengers scrambled ashore, others slid down a rope. Escape from the ship at this critical point favoured those with greater physical capability, so women and children featured disproportionately among the dead. The loss was a staggering total of 380 lives. Of the 579 emigrants aboard, there were 250 women and children, yet only 3 of these survived.
Today Lambay is home to the aforementioned privately owned medieval castle that receives summer guests. These are accommodated in the renovated coastguard houses and the White House. It supports one of the largest and most important seabird colonies in Ireland, with over 50,000 Common Guillemots, 5,000 Kittiwakes, 3,500 Razorbills, 2,500 pairs of Herring Gulls, as well as smaller numbers of Puffins, Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars and other species.
In addition to this Lambay has the largest concentration of grey seals on the East coast of Ireland and there are several caves in the cliffs much frequented for giving birth to their pups. A herd of about 200 fallow deer were introduced and oddly, wallabies (in the 1980s Dublin Zoo became overcrowded and some of their number were placed on the island). Seventeen wallabies at the last count, and increasing, exist today.
How to get in?Access from the north round to east is unhindered you can come straight in. Approaching from the north you can track straight down on the peak of Knockbane, the islands highest point 127m to find the bay. Access is also clear if approaching from the South, should you choose to round the island on the eastern side known as ‘The Nose’.
If approaching from the south and rounding the island on the western side, between Lambay and the mainland, you should plan to navigate outside the islands three offshore dangers.
Keep outside Burren Rocks starboard hand beacon 400 metres west of the westernmost point of the island. A reef, visible at low water, extends from the island and a ledge extends a further 30 metres out from the beacon.
Burren Rock Starboard Beacon - position: 53° 29.353’N, 006° 02.460’W
Keep at least 300 metres offshore as you progress up the west side of the island past the privately owned Lambay Pier. An unmarked rock with 1.2 metres of water cover resides 200 metres out from the shoreline 200 metres north of the Pier.
Round the ‘Taylor Rock’ north cardinal buoy off Scotch Point, at the Islands northwestern tip, on the starboard side. The buoy marks Taylor Rocks a patch that extend 300 metres north-northwest of Scotch Point.
Taylor Rock North Cardinal Buoy – Q position: 53° 30.222’N, 006° 01.871’W
From there Saltpan Bay is 800 metres to the east. One can anchor right up close to the cliff face in sand with very good holding in 5 metres. However on a sunny day you may want to drop anchor a little further out to take benefit from the sunshine, close in you will be in the shadow of the cliff.
What are the tides here?Today's local tide estimates are based on High Water Dublin (North Wall) -0016
Today's Dublin (North Wall) tides — High waters: 07:03, 19:48, Low waters: 00:23, 13:09
Today's Dover tides — High waters: 06:28, 18:54, Low waters: 00:48, 13:21 (From Tide Times)
We are now on Neaps, need more detailed tidal planning information?
Dover + 0030, Dublin (North Wall) +0002
MHWS 4.2m MHWN 3.2m MLWN 1.1m MLWS 0.5m
The stream floods North from HW Dublin +0430 to -0130, and ebbs in reverse.
2.5 knots can be achieved In Lambay Sound (between Lambay and the mainland) in springs.
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?None. The island is privately owned by the Revelstoke family and the owners value their privacy. No landing should take place. The island is accessible only by prior permission from Rogerstown Harbour, 27 km north of Dublin in Rush.
However Saltpan bay may be able provide you with a fresh tea as there is excellent mackerel fishing there.
What emergency contacts are there?Dublin Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) VHF Ch 83 covers the area from Carlingford Lough to Youghal. Carlingford (04), Wicklow Head (02), Rosslare (23) and Mine Head (83) provide relay stations. Coastguard Radio is always called on a working channel. Emergencies are worked on 16, 67 and working channel.
Alternatively, or if ashore, phone 999 or 112 (free) and ask for ‘Marine Rescue’. Gardai (police), Fire and Rescue are also available on this number. Dublin (MRSC) may be contacted directly on +353 1 662 0922/3
Other useful contacts in this area:
The nearest Marina to Malahide:
Malahide Marina - VHF Chanel M; Phone: +353 1 668 9985
Malahide Yacht Club - VHF call sign ‘Yacht Base’ Ch M (occasionally) Phone: +353 1 8453372
Gardai / Police: +353 1 6664600; Doctor: +353 1845 5994; Hospital: +353 18377755
Any security concerns?Never an issue known to have occurred anchored off Lambay Island. You are most likely to be alone.
What navigational resources are available for this area?British Admiralty 1411 ‘’Irish Sea - Western Part’, Scale of 200,000:1, SC 44 ‘Nose of Howth to Ballyquintin Point’ scale of 1:100,000 and 1468 ‘Arklow to the Skerries Islands’ Scale of 100,000:1, Imray C61 St Georges Channel, C62 Irish Sea (overlap at Dublin Bay) and Discovery Ordinance Survey map 50 covers this area. ’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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