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 pretty well 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