The 52 mile passage from Carlingford Marina to Dun Laoghaire Marina can be comfortably completed in 8 hours or so, if you wish, given sensible consideration of the tidal streams, but it repays being sailed in stages if you have the time.
This part of the east coast of Ireland is protected from the prevailing winds and Atlantic swell. Tidal streams are in general slight but increase as one goes south. Compared with the other coasts, there are few natural anchorages south of Carlingford, but man-made harbours are closely spaced.
Carlingford Lough is a wide area of sheltered water flanked by mountains, with marinas at Carlingford village on the SW shore and Warrenpoint at the head. Carlingford is a charming village dating from medieval times, and is renowned for its restaurants. The larger town of Warrenpoint is the Lough’s chief commercial port. From Warrenpoint a tidal river and refurbished lock and canal lead to the old port of Newry.
The entrance to the lough is narrow and has very strong tides; it becomes hazardous with a strong onshore wind and an ebb tide. There’s a good anchorage at Greencastle, on the County Down side just inside the entrance.
Carlingford to Howth (44 miles)
Once Carlingford entrance is cleared, the sail down the coast is straightforward, with the low coast of Louth and Meath to starboard and the rocky island of Rockabill offshore. The fishing harbour of Port Oriel provides a bolthole on the direct course, and Skerries makes a pleasant stopover. Malahide has a full-service marina, and offshore is Lambay island. Sheltered by the craggy islet of Ireland’s Eye is Howth harbour, with its marina and welcoming yacht club. Howth has good restaurants and pubs, marine services and fuel, and easy rail access to Dublin city centre.
Howth to Dun Laoghaire (7 miles)
Dublin is Ireland’s busiest port, and Traffic Separation Schemes in the approach must be respected. The River Liffey leads to the port area and the city centre. Poolbeg marina and Boat Club are on the south side of the river, and opening bridges give access further upstream. Sadly the Dublin City Moorings pontoon, in the centre, is currently closed. Dun Laoghaire, on the south side of Dublin Bay, is a huge 19th-century artificial harbour now mostly given over to leisure craft, and has Ireland’s largest marina. Dun Laoghaire, contiguous with the city of Dublin, has all services, and excellent transport, shops, restaurants and pubs. Three of Ireland’s senior Yacht Clubs – the Royal Irish, the Royal St George and the National – are based here.
Dun Laoghaire to Arklow (34 miles)
South of Dublin, the tidal stream is the key to passage planning – it reaches 4 knots south of Wicklow. With good planning, very fast passages are possible. There are shallow banks offshore but a safe passage inside them. Greystones, 9 miles from Dun Laoghaire, has a new marina, and Wicklow, 10 miles further, is a county town small commercial port, and the starting point for the biennial Round Ireland Race. The Sailing Club extends a warm welcome to visitors.
Arklow was formerly a commercial port and has a long and proud maritime history commemorated in its museum. There’s a small marina, and pontoon and quayside berths are available.
Arklow to Wexford (30 miles)
The passage inside the banks is fast if taken with the tide. Wexford has a shallow bar and the channel to the town is also shallow, but well-marked. Tidal rise and fall in this area is very small, so Wexford can’t be recommended for boats of more than 1.8m draft – anchorage west of Rosslare Harbour, or the continued passage to Kilmore Quay, are the best options.
Next: Wexford to Dungarvan
Carlingford to Wexford – thanks to Norman Kean of ICC Publications
Thanks goes to Norman Kean of ICC Publications for contributions, editing and charts adapted from their publication “Cruising Ireland”.