The central section of the south coast is bold and scenic, with fine cliffs and sandy bays. Four estuaries offer all-weather access and complete shelter – the harbours of Youghal, Cork, Oyster Haven and Kinsale. Cork and Kinsale are the principal sialing centres on the south coast. Tidal streams along the coast are generally insignificant, becoming slightly more noticeable west of Cork.
Dungarvan to Youghal (24 miles)
The bay and the little fishing harbour at Helvick, on the south side of Dungarvan Harbour, offer a convenient stopover on the coastwise passage. The coast is steep-to, but with several offlying dangers including Longship Rock and the Rogue. Mine Head lighthouse is conspicuous. The village of Ardmore sits on an east-facing, sandy bay which provides a sheltered anchorage in the prevailing westerly weather. Ardmore has shops, pubs and restaurants. Beyond Ram Head is the wide bay of Youghal, which has some well-marked dangers. The harbour – the estuary of the River Blackwater – opens to the north of Moll Goggins’ corner. The tides run strongly in the channel and the best anchorages are close to Red Bank on the east side. An alongside berth may be available but plans for pontoon accommodation are at an early stage. Youghal is an historic town with good shops, pubs and restaurants.
Youghal to Crosshaven (25 miles)
West of Youghal lies the wide sweep of Ballycotton Bay, with the fishing village of Ballycotton in its south-western corner. The little man made harbour is crowded with moorings and fishing boats but there are visitors’ moorings to the north of it. There is a passage inside Ballycotton Island, navigable with the use of the ICC Directions, but otherwise leave the island and the Smiths Rocks to starboard heading west. The entrance to Cork Harbour is straightforward, keeping an eye out for commercial traffic in this busy port. Crosshaven, the principal sailing centre in the harbour, lies on the south side of the Owenboy River, two miles beyond Roche’s Point. Crosshaven, the base of the Royal Cork YC (the world’s oldest) has three marinas and all services.
The harbour offers an excellent miniature cruising ground with a wide variety of destinations. Apart from Crosshaven, marinas at Monkstown, East Ferry and right in the city centre, and pontoons at Spike Island, Aghada, Cobh and Passage West provide alongside berths. The main channel of the River Lee winds for 12 miles from the harbour entrance past Spike and Haulbowline and through the shallow Lough Mahon to the limit of navigation in Cork itself. Spike, for 200 years a military and Government preserve as fortress and prison, has recently been opened to visitors. The historic town of Cobh faces south on Great Island, and east of the island is East Channel, with East Ferry marina in wooded surroundings. Cork Harbour is well supplied with all services including a large chandlery in the city, and there are many excellent restaurants and pubs. The city’s famous English Market is well worth a visit.
Crosshaven to Kinsale (18 miles)
The coast west of Cork is cliffbound and scenic, and the projecting Old Head of Kinsale provides shelter from the west. The peaceful inlet of Oyster Haven offers an attractive anchorage, while Kinsale ranks as one of Ireland’s prime sailing centres. The perfectly sheltered natural harbour has three marinas and a boatyard. Kinsale is famous for its restaurants, offering award-winning cuisine of all kinds and renowned for seafood in particular.
Thanks goes to Norman Kean of ICC Publications for contributions, editing and charts adapted from their publication “Cruising Ireland”.
Chartlet by ICC Publications