Berthing Master. +353 (0)87 2815705
This is another of the ports on this coast which has developed over the years to support the local fishermen. There has been some sort of settlement here since the Middle Ages and the harbour itself is basically an extension of the banks of the River Devlin which flows through it. The harbour is very badly silted up with huge banks in various places at bends and against the walls. There are also several wrecks sitting on these banks.
The river meanders through the harbour and is un-navigable below half tide. This means that the depths in the harbour are variable and it dries alongside all the walls. The scouring action of the river has developed a channel through the harbour entrance which is deepest near the outside wall and then forms a sandbank as an extension to that wall in a NW direction for about half a cable; this sandbank is completely unmarked.
There is a sandy beach along the front of the town which generates surf in an Easterly wind and at certain states of wind and tide the entrance to the harbour will be interesting to say the least as you’ll have to turn across this surf to head into the harbour. It’s alright at HW as the surf develops further in.
The town itself has plenty of amenities but it’s not much use as an overnight stop; if you are travelling South on the ebb you’ll arrive at low water and will have to anchor off before you can get in, and then have to go out and anchor off before you can pick up the next ebb South. On the other hand if you are cruising up from the South you’ll be ok to get in at HW but won’t be able to get out again at LW to pick up the next flood North. This may not be a problem if you have a big enough boat to peg the tides round here (1.5 to 2.0 kts Springs) but then, if your boat is big enough to do that you’ll have a draft which precludes the use of a drying harbour anyway!! The fishing vessel pattern round here is to drop in one or two times a week to offload their catches and then, about once a fortnight come in and tie up for a long weekend. Having said all that, if you have a shallow draft boat and want somewhere different to spend a couple of days this is ideal in all but strong winds from the easterly quadrant which will make the entrance all but impossible in the surf.
There had been a few studies by the local Council to find a way of improving this harbour to increase its attraction for leisure boats but basically all schemes recognised that any income generated would be rapidly eaten up by the cost of constantly dredging the harbour necessitated by the proximity of the beach.
As of 2019 this will all change as many millions of public money is being used to improve Balbriggan. The problem is that all that seems to be planned for the harbour itself is a facelift ; the surrounds will become a nice place for visitors to sit and eat ice cream and take in the view of a quaint old harbour. They are examining the possibility of a breakwater to protect the harbour entrance and the beach. We can find no plans for improvements to the facilities for yachtsmen You can view Balbriggan from the air in this YouTube Video
Before making an approach to the harbour it is essential that....
..... the Berthing Master be contacted in advance to ensure that they have room in the harbour for a visiting boat
The initial approach is free from danger apart from the Cardy Rocks off Braymore Point. Run in on a SW heading for the middle of the bay about 50 to 100 meters to the NW of the prominent light on the pierhead and when the entrance starts to open make for the centre of the entrance. Be very aware that there are sandbanks extending 30 to 50 meters out from the end of both piers so keep a close watch on your echo sounder.
The river’s flow out into the sea has been diverted by the harbour walls to flow out in a westerly direction close to the north wall but is slow to curve back round in its escape to the sea and the NE. If you are entering at HW (recommended) you should not be in much danger of grounding but at lower states of the tide you will be probing for an unmarked “river bed” which could well be masked by surf or, if you are lucky, could be indicated by a break in the surf.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the sector light atop the NE pierhead has anything to do with the close in approach to the harbour entrance; it’s there to indicate a safe passage clear of the Skerries to the South and the Cardy Rocks to the North, once clear of either of those on the approach ignore the sectors of this light. The close in approach is on a SW heading (as mentioned above) with the light on your port bow.
This Youtube link is very useful
Where you tie up will depend very much on the time of the week,.....
.... the day and the state of the tide. Mid week at High water there’ll probably be plenty of room and the wall to port will be an option but at half ebb with a fin keeler you risk grounding and ending up on your side going for there. As has been said above, advanced arrangements with the Berthing Master are necessary before planning to pay this harbour a visit.
There are various options but it is very unlikely that you will be able to find a spot at which you can remain afloat for the whole tide.
They are in the process of setting the new berthing charges for 2013 but it is still uncertain whether there will be a charge for visiting yachts.
Update 2019 They still haven't set any charges and the Berthing Master says that you'd be ok for a couple of nights.
Surprisingly enough you will find that water, diesel (delivered by tanker), gas and even shore power are available on the quay. There are also engineering facilities which have developed over the years to look after the fishing boats. They have a slip and a nine ton travel lift if you need to come out. Unfortunately the toilets near the harbour are a disgrace and not to be recommended.
The town is expanding as a dormitory town for Dublin so plentiful provisions are available nearby, as are a Post Office and Banks. There are a couple of filling stations, one on the Drogheda Road and one on the Dublin Road; not too much of a walk but the Drogheda Road one is marginally closer
The town is quite large and has its fair share of pubs, restaurants and fast food outlets (fish and chippers to you and me) There is a modern cinema showing the latest releases on Mill street just on the other side of the railway from the harbour.
A list of some of the larger pubs can be found at: