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Courtmacsherry Bay

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Courtesy Flag

Irish Tricolour


None Given


AC 2092 Toe Head to Old Head of Kinsale, AC2081 Courtmacsherry Bay, SC 5622, Imray C56 Cork to Dingle Bay (includes Plan of Courtmacsherry)

Rules & Regulations

None Known


Bullens Bay (north of Holeopen Bay East) is full of rocks out to 3 cables off shore. The bay to the north of Holeopen Bay West is also full of rocks. The middle of Courtmacsherry is littered with rocks with the Barrel Rocks marked by a SCM and Black Tom by a SHM (buoy). Horse Rock lies half a mile off Barry’s Point on the West side of the Bay.

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW Courtmacsherry is HW Cobh – 0018 MHWS 4.0m MHWN 3.1m MLWN 1.3m MLWS 0.5m. The stream runs at up to 3kts through the harbour at springs the flood starting at six hours before HW Cobh and the ebb six hours later.

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General Description

The coast from Old Head of Kinsale to Seven Heads has quite a few viable anchorages, most of which will provide shelter from winds from one direction or the other but care must be taken as many of them have necklaces of rocks in-shore which could trap the unwary. 

Either side of the Old Head of Kinsale are Holeopen Bays East & West which are quite steep to and will provide good shelter if you get caught out by the weather.  They are also a popular spot for day sailors out of Kinsale as, in the past, there was a subterranean passage through from east to west which could be navigated by dinghy at slack water.

In recent years there’s has been a roof collapse in the passage and it is not certain whether it is still possible to get through so if you intend having a go at it you should contact one of the pleasure cruisers in Kinsale harbour for advice. Be careful if you are making for shelter here in bad weather as the larger bays to the north of both the Holeopen Bays are littered with rocks close in; misidentifying either could be embarrassing.

The North Shore of Courtmacsherry Bay provides little shelter from any direction as the hinterland is fairly low.  The West shore has several lovely bays (Seven Heads, Blindstrand & Broadstrand), clear of dangers and good holding with a sand bottom but it has to be said that the land is fairly low lying round here and in these bays you will have shelter from the sea but not much from the wind unless you can get close in and take the ground.

Courtmacsherry harbour itself is up in the northwest corner of the bay in behind Wood Point which is surmounted by a sector light.  It can be difficult to identify this bay, especially in poor light as Coolmain Point, Lisheen point and Wood Point blend together and look like a bit of straight coastline. Recent improvements to the buoyage mean that the harbour which used to be unapproachable at night is now accessible day or night but is still a very difficult, nigh on impossible harbour to get into in moderate to strong weather conditions from the South or South East (see the You Tube clip below of the Lifeboat standing out to sea in what looks like a seven to eight)

From an historical point of view it was a fore runner of the present lifeboat which rescued the survivors of the Lusitania and they have been involved in a number of other classic rescues over the years.

Courtmacsherry is little more than a village; it developed as a quiet holiday destination for Victorians in the late nineteenth century when the railway was put in but has reverted back after its closure.  The village population is small and has only basic shopping as many of them commute to Cork. It is slowly being redeveloped and now has a Sailing Club/Watersports Club which offers tuition and sailing holidays but is based mainly around dinghy sailing.  People who have found this place wax lyrical about its beauty and relaxed atmosphere; there’s horse riding if you are that way inclined along with some beautiful beaches and walks.


Be aware that much of the coastal source material for AC 2081 (and others based on it)

..... is the most recent Admiralty Survey of 1846!  (Though the Courtmacsherry buoyage is up to date)

If you are making into this bay rather than passing from Kinsale to Seven Heads and onwards you will have to have a good look at the charts as the hazards stretch right out into the bay,the outer margin of the rocks being a straight line from Ringalurisky Point to Barry’s Point. 

The main drying rock is Barrel Rock over a mile out into the bay and which carries a South Cardinal Mark these days (it used to be a perch) but note that there are also Blueboy Rock and Black Tom to the east and west of this mark.  Black Tom has a buoy associated with it but this has been placed half a mile south of the rock itself. 

If you have come round Kinsale Head it is not necessary to go all the way round Black Tom buoy to make for Courtmacsherry as there’s half a mile between The Barrels and Black Tom and, provided you have the SCM well identified, you can leave it about a cable and a bit to starboard and make directly for the Harbour Buoy. 

However you may need to go well south (about 2 miles) of Kinsale Head itself if there is any wind blowing as the tide stream coming down the side of the head meets with the main tides giving rise to some alarming overfalls; in settled weather you can cut in close to the Head and avoid these, otherwise take the long route.  In good visibility coming from Kinsale Head you can pass inside the Inner Barrels using the clearing bearing on the chart but unless it’s a lovely sunny day you’re not going to be able to see where Coolmain Point ends and Wood Point begins and if you are going to use a chart plotter just make sure your course gives a bit for Mum due to the age of the chart.

If you are coming round Seven Heads...

...you will need to stand out a bit to the east to give sea room around Cotton Rocks though in settled conditions from the West, if you can identify these rocks, you can navigate inside them to gain shelter for the night in the cove behind them.  In heavy conditions from the SE you need to stand clear of the Baun Bank, but in such conditions you will probably not be travelling eastwards anyway.  If continuing up the coast to Courtmacsherry harbour it is perfectly feasible to pass between the Horse Rock and Barry’s Point as long as you are sure of your bearings.

Once you have picked up the Courtmacsherry Harbour Buoy there’s not much problem though you need to err towards the northern side, especially north of Ferry Point where they have the only PHM and you have to almost touch the SHM before altering to scrape inside the PHM. If you have any draft it is advisable to make the approach in the second half of the flood as there is only about four feet over the bar at LWS.

Finally if you do not believe it when we advise not to attempt an entry in strong SE conditions have a look at the clip below and imagine what it would be like in your 9 meter hull!!

Courtmacsherry Lifeboat putting to sea in a blow

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

They have doubled the length of the visitors’ pontoon which is now 36 meters but space

.... is still at a premium and you may have to anchor off in the stream which can reach up to 2kts at springs.  If you are shallow draft you could proceed up the river from abeam Courtmacsherry Pier two hours either side of HW and anchor off Burren Pier but you will have less than a meter at LWS so maybe not too good an idea? 

Wherever you anchor be very aware of the current through here and consider a double anchor on a yoke as well as a tripping line because there are quite a few old moorings knocking around.

They charge a minimum of 15 Euros to tie alongside the pontoon.


There’s water and shore power at the pontoon and there are toilets ashore.  At the time of writing the Sailing Club does not have a club house so, no showers, although if you talked nicely to the Courtmacsherry Hotel at the eastern end of the front they might let you have a shower there.

You can get diesel here but you will have to phone to arrange a tanker and that’s office hours only; there’s no petrol for miles.

There’s a small shop on the foreshore for provisions but the nearest shop of any size is well outside walking distance

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

The Lifeboat is central to the life of the village, to the extent that the pub itself is called “The Lifeboat” but there is another hotel (The Courtmacsherry Hotel) which is open to non residents for food and drink and they sometimes have a disco here on a Saturday night.  
There are three other watering holes within a short walk of the pontoon


Your Ratings & Comments

Written by Don Thomson 3 | 20th Oct 2022
Thanks for the info on the pontoon; we'll try and find out what is intended for 2023. As to depths? If you look at the chart sources for UKHO chart 2081 (on which everyone depends - that channel was surveyed in 1907 and the chart is marked "depths subject to frequent change" We have warned about this in our text.
Pontoon update
Written by Voyager3 | 12th Aug 2022
It was removed for dredging a couple of hours before we arrived.
Dredging should have commenced April but was delayed due to sea grass/ fish spawning or some such.
Apparently the intention is that the newly dredged channel will be narrower than before to promote natural scouring.
No idea when the pontoon will be restored though. All as told to me by a fella in the Anchor Bar, a nice traditional pub. The Lifeboat pub has gone full on gastro, you pays your money….
Pontoon missing August ‘22
Written by Voyager3 | 5th Aug 2022
Also depths in channel much less than charted. We draw 1.6 but hit the mud 20m E of lifeboat, where chart suggests 3m + 0.5 of tide. Needless to say we did a quick about turn and anchored in Broadstrand bay.
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 25th Aug 2021
I reviewed these notes in August 2021. The phone number for the HM has been removed as neither it nor that posted in the Reeds works. Otherwise no changes
Update Summer 2019
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 15th Jul 2019
These notes were reviewed in July 2019. Thanks to Ningaloo who has just been there there is no need for any changes; I've loaded up this years charts of the bay and replaced the Google link top right
Quiet and scenic
Written by Ningaloo | 5th Jul 2019
On our visit the first 10m of the pontoon was in use by the local fishing charter boats, however we got alongside (ferry gliding against the strong tide) with the help of the charter skipper who took our lines. With 2m draft we also anchored outside for an hour to wait for sufficient rise of tide. Glad we did so. Never less than 3.5m over the bar but only 2.7m on the final loop before the pier.
Still £15 a night. We didn't take electric but this is available by token.
Pay at the pub.
Beautiful quiet spot.
Update November 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 25th Nov 2013
Updated 25th November 2013. No changes
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