Harbour Master VHF 09 tel no +353 (0)28 22145 mob +353 (0)8 7235 1485
Baltimore Sailing Club tel no +353 (0)28 20426
By reason of its geographic location and its shelter Baltimore is a popular stopping place for cruising sailors, both oceanic and coastal, as well as providing sheltered waters for all other water sport from wind surfing to dinghy sailing and kayaking. There are numerous anchorages around the bay (marked and unmarked) with those close to the harbour itself being the most popular and these are covered in our berthing section below.
The bay itself is about a mile across in either direction with the harbour in the NE corner and various slips and piers around its edges. The main population and facilities are around the harbour in which the Baltimore Sailing Club has its clubhouse. Sherkin Island, which provides the bay with shelter from the Westerlies, has no centres of population being mainly agricultural in nature. There are a couple of piers/slips for ferries on that side and there are sheltered anchorages available if the wind picks up from the West. The bay extends to the NE into Church Strand Bay which dries to mud at LW.
As with most harbours we cover on the Irish Coast this was once a very busy fishing harbour and the railway line here was crucial to that, as it could transport fish to the rest of the UK in less than 24 hours. That fishing industry has declined and the railway closed in 1961 though the remains of the old station can still be seen. The harbour itself still services a small fleet of professional fishermen but, during the summer months, adds a 20 berth pontoon to the South Pier for visiting yachtsmen.
There is a long history of settlement here but the most famous incident was the foray by Algerian pirates who abducted many of the village into slavery in 1631. There is a pile of interesting history behind this action not least of which is the fact that the pirate “Admiral” on this raid was originally a Dutch pirate who had converted to Islam after capture by the Barbary Corsairs and ended up running a lucrative operation out of Morocco (and for five years out of Lundy in the Bristol Channel!). If you want to know more I suggest you look up “Jan Janszoon” in Wikipedia; if nothing else it’ll be another voyage of discovery on a grey winter’s day!
The Sound leading into the NW corner of the Harbour gives access to and from the islands to the West of Baltimore and Roaringwater Bay. If you intend using this Sound it is strongly recommended that you use the Irish Cruising Club’s Pilot for this area; the navigation is intricate. It is also the sort of area where you would benefit from making up some large scale laminated charts from “Zoomified” charts available to members on this website.
The main entrance to the Harbour is through the South entrance between....
.... Barrack Point and Beacon Point. There is another entrance in from the North West between Sherkin Island and Spanish Island and at first sight would look to be a quicker route in from Mizzen Head but that is an illusion because, by the time you’ve twisted around the islands to the immediate north of Sherkin island you save about three quarters of a mile; it’s far easier and much less taxing to take the outside route around Clear Island.
Coming through Gascanane Sound from the West is also a viable approach but again the saving in time is minute. You might, of course, be in competition with other boats and in that case it’s up to you; the will to win will sometimes take us places we would normally avoid (which is why the Needles is a popular resting place for expensive racing boats!!)
The Southern entrance holds no dangers for the sensible yachtsman and is passable in all conditions day or night. The deepest water is just to the West of the Loo Rock SHM so if you make for that from our initial Fix, leave it close to starboard (don’t try and cut the corner by leaving it to port; it’s not worth it) and hold a northerly heading until the Harbour opens around Coney Island before turning for the SHM off Connor Point aiming for the gap between it and the next PHM which guards Wallis Rock.
There’s no problem cutting inside the Connor Point SHM but, especially if you are carrying draft , you will need to split the gap between the Wallis Rock Buoy and the Fishery Point SHM. Then it’s just a case of working out where you can stop and anchor; there’s plenty of deep water but also plenty of other boats.
You will find that east of a line from off Bull Point to Fishery Point...
.... the water is chocka-block with moorings and you will have to anchor outside those (if you think you might like to anchor where the little anchor is marked on the chart off the north Pier, think again, there’s not room to cast a mackerel line let alone an anchor) During the summer months Atlantic Boating Services deploy a pontoon off the South pier for the use of visiting yachts and there are some visitors buoys around. There’s a possibility of room to the NE of the Lifeboat Slip in the entrance to Church Strand Bay but in previous years this possibility has been found again to be entirely taken up with moorings. If you do not have an outboard for your dinghy you could be in for some serious rowing, especially of there is any wind through the anchorage. Your best bet would be to contact the HM (who is employed by Atlantic Boating Services) by phone from your previous departure point and then have a chat to him on channel 9 to see what’s available. We are reliably informed that there is generally room on the pontoon but that will cost you a minimum of 20 Euros per night plus 5 Euros for shore power. The hoped for amenities building has been built and there are now showers and toilets ashore.
Across the other side, off Sherkin Island, there is a visitors’ pontoon just below the ruins of Dunnalong Castle to the North of Abbey Sands for which there is a charge payable to the Islanders Rest Hotel
Apart from this there is a wealth of little coves and inlets (The Cove to the SW of the harbour isn’t one of these as it’s full of moorings) where you can anchor for the night as well as Horseshoe Harbour on Sherkin Island to the SW of Barrack Point.
There’s fresh water and shore power on the pontoons at Baltimore and Sherkin Island. Showers and toilets are also available ashore in both locations. Please note that the Sherkin Island pontoon has no facilities for waste disposal. Diesel is available at Baltimore by hose. At Baltimore there is a small shop for provisions but for a major reprovisioning you would have to take the bus to Skibbereen a good ten miles away. Petrol is a major problem as the nearest filling station is at Skibbereen so if you needed more than a drop for your dinghy motor you’d have to enlist the aid of the harbour master with whatever form of bribery you can muster!
Atlantic Boating Services will be able to help with most outboard requirements and a limited supply of chandlery.
Restaurants and pubs abound at Baltimore and Sherkin Island has a hotel and a couple of pubs.
All manner of water sport equipment can be hired, there’s a diving club here, canoeing etc; just ask the harbour master. You may even be able to hire an outboard for your dinghy!!