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Kilkeel Harbour

Your Comments: 4 Read or add your comments

Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


None Given


AC 0044 Nose of Howth to Ballyquintin Point, AC 2800-2 Carlingford Lough, AC 2800-3 Kilkeel Harbour, Imray C62 Irish Sea

Rules & Regulations

None Known


Off lying rocks at Ballymartin Point, Cranfield Point and Lee Stone Point. Shoals SSW of Kilkeel Point to East of the approach bearing.

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW is Belfast +0035. MHWS 4.7m MHWN 4.1m MLWN 1.5m MLWS 0.8m: It is worth noting that although the local fishermen go by the Liverpool Tide Tables (claiming that they are the same as their own) it appears that those tables have more in common with Belfast than Kilkeel.   (links)

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General Description

Contacts: Kilkeel HM  VHF #12     tel 028 4176 2287

Kilkeel is a very, very busy fishing port being the main fishing port on the East Coast of Northern Island.  It’s a man made harbour lying SE/NW dredged to at least 1.5 meters with a narrow entrance channel dredged to 1.0 meters. The entrance to the inner harbour is via a 13m wide channel and the main harbour entrance is only half as wide again.  This makes it a very sheltered harbour but the entrance is virtually inaccessible when the wind is in the East through to South above Force 5.  When bad weather is forecast just about every fishing vessel in the Irish Sea will scurry for shelter here if they can make it.

It is said locally that to make an approach here in a F5 takes a great deal of experience, clean underpants and a bottle of Irish whiskey for Dutch courage; not only that, the HM says he has seen a boat arriving through the main entrance stern first in bad conditions; you have been warned.

Until recently they were not set up to deal with leisure craft but although they now have a pontoon for small boats it’s at the far end of the harbour in shallow water where the river comes in and  all the slots on it have been taken by local boat owners (See photograph on this site).  If you wish to come in here you must contact the harbour master before hand, either by radio or telephone, and expect to be berthed alongside either wall with the probability of rafting with FVs. (Note the HM is only available on the phone during the normal working day and not at weekends)

There is also a problem in that the channel running in to the harbour entrance is liable to silting especially after SW gales so advice should be sought as to the state of that channel if you have any depth of keel to worry about. Under normal conditions there should be more than 3 meters over the bank at half tide.

As it is about 5.5 sea miles from the entrance to Carlingford Lough Kilkeel is especially useful as a holding point for favourable tides. (If coming from the North remember that the flood is now from the South as is the buoyage) ... read more


In clement weather the entrance to this harbour presents no difficulties. If coming from the North you need to keep at least 6 cables from the shore (which basically means keep to seaward of the buoy marking the end of the Kilkeel Point outfall); from the South there are no offshore hazards. ... read more

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

We have discussed the options for berthing above but re-emphasise here that the harbour is a working harbour with no exclusive  arrangements for visiting boats. You must contact the HM before approaching the harbour to ascertain what room there may be for you. Given that proviso they are cheap; for leisure craft  in 2015 they are charging £9.84 per night per boat irrespective of size. ... read more

Your Ratings & Comments

Written by Don Thomson | 10th Apr 2017
I reviewed these notes in April 2017. Nothing has changed here, "Taff" (below) was lucky to find room on the pontoons as there is definitely nothing reserved for visitors. Expect to have to raft on an FV and that nobody will be able to find out from their paperwork how much to charge you!!
Kilkeel pontoon
Written by Taff | 4th Jul 2015
Having to wait for the tide for Carlingford, we put in here for the night. No HM after 1800, but we came in and found a place on the pontoon. You need a fob to be able to open the gate to go ashore. I'm not sure how you avoid meeting a FV in the blind bend in the narrow entrance if you can't raise the HM. The locals were very kindly on the pontoon.
Update 2015
Written by dononshytalk | 30th Mar 2015
These notes were reviewed by Don In March 2015. Nothing has changed here except the price which is still cheap at under £10 per boat per night irrespective of length.
Update November 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 13th Nov 2013
These notes were reviewed by Don Thomson on November 13th 2013. Although we have emphasized the lack of dedicated facilities for yachts it should not deter you from visiting here; they will fit you in where they can,just remember that the entrance is tidal.
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