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Courtesy Flag

Irish Tricolour


None Given


AC 2049-0 Old Head of Kinsale to Tuskar Rock, SC 5622, Imray C57 Tuskar

Rules & Regulations

None Known


The Smiths rocks with the Wheat rocks about a mile and a quarter SW of Ballycotton Island.

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW Ballycotton is HW Cobh +0005 MHWS 4.1m MHWN 3.2m MLWN 1.3m MLWS 0.4m

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General Description

Contact  East Cork HM   +353  (0) 8678 00878 or via the County Cork S/B +353 (0)24 92926

This is a pleasant fishing village and harbour on the South Coast of Ireland between Youghal and Cork

The harbour is small and congested with small trawlers, angling boats and dories which lie to running moorings on floating rope. There’s deepish water at the entrance but shelves inwards and dries at its top end. It should also be noted that the inner walls are rough and in the unlikely event that you could find an alongside berth you would definitely need to use fender boards.  You get the drift; don’t plan to enter this harbour.  Having said that, there are six 15ton visitor’s buoys off to the North of the harbour entrance which provide free moorings for the visiting yachtsmen and are comfortable in anything other than strong winds from the NE round to the SSE.
We are told that this little harbour is well up there with the big harbours on its fish landings, currently running about five or sixth in the rankings in the Republic.  You are welcome to use the visitors buoys but don't get in the way!!!!!

Until 1995 Ballycotton was known only to the professional local fishermen and a select few for deep sea angling.  That all changed when Hollywood came to town bringing with it Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and other notable stars to make a film but unfortunately it all came to nothing after a few weeks of filming as it was discovered that the backer didn’t have the money he was supposed to have.  Ballycotton went back to its sleepy existence and all it had were the memories of the heady excitement of being in the “fillums.”

It looks as though that may all change again and the visiting yachtsman in 2012 may find the narrow streets teaming with film crews and stars as the producer went on record in February 2012 to say that he intends returning to do a remake of the film “within six months”, though, sadly, no longer with the same cast. It will be interesting to see if his intentions bear fruit seventeen years after the previous fiasco. (the previous backer, by the way, ended up in prison for fraud!) There’s some You tube clips (which, if nothing else, give a good view if the harbour) available HERE

Apart from this the village has been making strenuous efforts to increase its attractiveness to the visitor; they have an oversubscribed 10 mile road race in the spring and an arts festival in the summer, whilst on any evening ashore here you will be made very welcome in the local hostelries and restaurants.  One hesitates to use the adjective “quaint” but this village invites its use in moderation; in places it may look like a throw back to the nineteenth century but it is in every way a twenty first century population of hardworking, hospitable people and well worth a visit especially if you are a yachtie who hates the overcrowded anchorages and marinas on offer just round the corner in Cork.

There are some good aerial shots of the harbour in the Youtube video below.


The approach is without dangers although there is the “safe” way in....

.... and a more adventurous shore route you could use if you are familiar with it. You should note as well that although the sector light on Ballycotton Island will keep you clear of offshore dangers, once you are in close, the harbour has no navigation lights at all so, again, unless you are familiar with the harbour, a night entrance is out of the question. 

The final approach into the harbour is on a Southerly heading a couple of hours either side of HW but really your plan should be to identify the visitors buoys and pick up one of those. 

If you are approaching from the West the safest route is to leave the Smiths PHM to port and go around the outside of Ballycotton Island before turning into the bay from the North East. It is possible to transit close in to the coast inside the Pollock SCM and the locals (in open shallow draft dories) will even go inside the Smiths PHM to take the Sound between Ballycotton Island and “Small” Island but there are no large scale charts of these passages so it’s up to you; the Sound inside the Island is definitely wide enough and deep enough to take a fin keeler but you should keep to the Island side of the channel and be aware that there is a drying rock in the middle of the Sound.  We've just been told that an English yacht lost his rudder taking the short cut last week (July 2019) and was lucky that that was all he lost (much to the amusement of the locals)

If you are approaching from the East there are no problems; once you have weathered Capel Island you can head straight for the harbour (albeit in the red sector of the Ballycotton Island Light) and its welcoming visitors’ buoys.

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

As has been said there are visitors buoys which are painted a distinctive....

..... yellow and clearly marked “Visitors” and these should be your primary choice.  You’re probably best to go inside the harbour with your dinghy as the foreshore opposite the moorings is fairly rocky and even if you can find a way up the low cliffs the likelihood is that you’ll end up climbing into some ones private back garden!   A path does exist up from the shore near the root of the West pier but there’s nowhere to tie up your dinghy. 

There is a charge for the use of the buoys and you should contact the HM on his mobile (above); but, if you are lucky you may find he might wave the fee. (His Office is in Yougal!)

There is now a pontoon in Ballycotton but it is for pick up and set down only.


There’s a water tap on the pier and that’s about it.  Undoubtedly you would be able to organise diesel fuel on the East Pier but it would be an extremely frustrating exercise involving moving trawlers to fit in with a road tanker who's arrival would be a moveable feast etc, etc.

There are small shops in the village which can provide basic provisions

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

This is the main reason for stopping here (apart from nautical considerations).  If you enjoy the craic and Irish music of the informal type then this will be to your liking; you may even stay for another night!


Your Ratings & Comments

Written by Don Thomson 3 | 18th Oct 2022
There is a pontoon here now but not for overnight use. I've changed the drone footage for one taken this year and added a contact number for the HM who covers Yougal and Ballycotton.
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 19th Aug 2021
I reviewed these notes in August 2021. I've added a Youtube Drone video but otherwise nothing has changed.
Update Summer 2019
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 11th Jul 2019
These notes were reviewed in July 2019. No changes.
Written by Don Thomson | 20th Apr 2017
I reviewed these notes in April of 2017. There was mention a couple of years ago of a floating pontoon within the harbour but I can find no further reference to it.
Written by Don Thomson | 20th Apr 2017
I reviewed these notes in April of 2017. There was mention a couple of years ago of a floating pontoon within the harbour but I can find no further reference to it.
Update 2015
Written by dononshytalk | 13th Apr 2015
These notes were reviewed by Don in April 2015 and no changes were made
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