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Holyhead Harbour

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign

Waypoint

Breakwater End 53:19'.87 N 004:37'.13 W

Charts

Admiralty 2011, 1413

Rules & Regulations

Unknown

Hazards

TSS in Entrance, Ferries inc HHS

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW = Dover -0040 MHWS 5.2m, MHWN 4.4m, MLWN 2.0m, MLWS 0.7m   (links)

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General Description

Contacts
Marina  tel 01407 764242 VHF #37 (M) 
Sailing Club  tel 01407 762526 VHF #37 (M) c/s "Club Launch"


Holyhead is an absolutely huge harbour, and provides an excellent port of refuge in virtually all conditions. It is strategically placed for those planning to hop across the Irish Sea. The breakwater that protects the New Harbour was completed in 1873, and encloses a large area of sheltered water. Various ferries and fast cats regularly use Holyhead, connecting with Dublin in Ireland. Ferry activity is kept to a completely different side of the port, and apart from sharing the entrance approaches the yachtsman or motorboater should have no problems. Berthing within the harbour always used to be on mooring buoys provided by the hospitable Holyhead Sailing Club, or swinging to your own gear. This is still an option, but in strong winds with a North or north-east component, the sheer size of the harbour can allow a loppy sea to develop.

 
NEW 2018.   There was horrendous damage here during March 2018.  As far as we know the marina was pretty-well wrecked and we have no details of the plans for renewal of facilities.  If you intend stopping here we advise you contact them well in advance to check on what is available (Though it is hoped that they will have the visitors pontoon up and running by June - albeit with reduced services).


Further Information June 2018

Visitor swinging moorings are provided by the hospitable Holyhead Sailing Club. At the moment this is the only option. It should be noted that in strong winds with a north-east component, the sheer size of the harbour can allow a loppy sea to develop. Currently there are developing plans for the renewal of facilities. Holyhead Marina has stated that it intends to have some visitor facilities up and running by early to mid July.  Some services are still available, including boatyard services, cafe, restaurants, the Sailing Club bar and restaurant and the chandlery.If you intend stopping here, as moorings are limited, we advise you contact the Sailing Club well in advance to check on what is available. The swinging moorings are serviced by a launch for details  see this link.

A plan for refueling and water is being considered and you can get details when you contact them for advice in advance.

Latest 2021  At the moment the Marina only has a landing stage on which you can berth and  the shore side amenities are in operation. They have put in planning permission for a rubble breakwater around the old Marina boundary and when that has been built it will be full steam ahead for pontoons etc. Trouble is that the planning permission has been held up by the pandemic so still not much progress. NB The marina is still completely independant of the Council plans for the foreshore development which was desgned before the Marina was wrecked. With the delays in permissions it is unlikely that we'll see an improvement this season or next - but eventually there will be business as usual.

 

Approach

Any kind of approach from the North will find the small craft mariner.....

...... having to contend with Carmel Head and the Skerries.

To seawards of Carmel Head is an extensive area of rocky shoals, shallow patches, tidal races, overfalls and other dangers that no right minded small craft Mariner would want to involve himself in. The Skerries is the outlying stack of rocks and these are well marked by The Skerries Lighthouse (Fl(2)10s.36m.20m). This Lighthouse also displays Iso.R.4s.26m.10M in such a way that this light covers the dangerous shoals to the north-east of it.

More pilotage directions:


An inshore passage between Carmel Head and the Skerries does exist and is used at slack water by experienced locals. It is not proposed to describe it here. Suffice to say that any wind against tide situation (with the tide capable of reaching 6 kn), will cause very confused seas, which can rapidly degenerate into breaking seas should wind increase.

This leaves the other option to pass outside the whole lot, and give The Skerries a good offing of at least a mile. In unsettled conditions a clearance of about 2.5 miles would be better. The tide here runs South West from +0030 Dover, and turns north east at -0550 Dover. It must be borne in mind however that a traffic separation zone guides shipping around this area, and you risk straying into the oncoming lane should you keep too far off the Skerries. All is clear on the chart.

Once past the Skerries a turn southwards can be made, and after leaving Langdon Ridge and its associated westerly cardinal buoy (Q(9)15s) on your port side, a course shaped up for the harbour entrance.

If approaching from the South or South West a good offing needs to be given to the Holyhead Race which lies up to 2 miles off The Stacks. The South going tidal flow begins at -0030 Dover, while the North going flow commences at +0530 Dover. These streams can reach 5 kn during spring tides close to South Stack, with strong wind against tide conditions producing dangerous breaking seas. In general the heavier the weather, the greater the offing should be, as the effects of the tidal race can be felt several miles off. For more information see the note made in 2011 in the comments at the bottom.

In the closer approaches, entry to the harbour is made between the end of the breakwater (Fl(3)G.10s.21m.14M) and a red can buoy Clipera (Fl(4)R.15s) which unfortunately is just off the edge of our harbour chart.

A traffic separation zone has been established in the harbour mouth which can be seen partly on the chart provided. Incoming traffic keeps closer to the breakwater (driving on the right), outgoing traffic keeps well clear of the breakwater and closer to the above-mentioned red Clipera Buoy.

The harbour authorities "Holyhead Harbour"  work on VHF channel 14, with the initial call on 16. Be prepared for ferry traffic including fast cats, and keep a weather eye behind you as well. If in the slightest doubt call Holyhead harbour before entering the small TSS in the entrance.

Give the breakwater a good clearance as you enter, then swing to starboard taking note of the green conical Spit buoy (Fl.G.3s) which marks shallows radiating southwards from the breakwater end. This must be left on your starboard side as you proceed into the harbour.

Follow the line of the breakwater at a reasonable offing following it as it bends round to the West. Once the small craft moorings off the beach and yacht club are bearing due South you can turn to port and make your way towards them. A quick glance at the larger scale chart will show the fairway areas where anchoring is not allowed. The approach within the harbour outlined above keeps the small craft Mariner well clear of the Outer Platters shallow patches and their associated buoyage.

The visitor then has the choice of using the new Marina, the moorings provided by the yacht club (with launch service), or even the possibility of anchoring.

The harbour is well lit for night entry but the East shore of the Outer Harbour (Twyn Cliperau) is a long line of sodium street lights so it can be difficult picking a point to assess ones drift against the pierhead light. (That you are drifting will be emminently obvious as the far shore will be speeding past the light like an old black & white movie panorama shot!) The other problem after that is the number of moored boats (including the Life boat) which do not carry lights - one of those multi candle powered hand held search lights can be a boon but have it ready in the cockpit (by the time I found mine I was almost aboard the lifeboat!!) From memory the long North breakwater doesn't carry street lights so it is difficult to navigate close to it in the dark.  Just be aware that once you have rounded the pierhead you can't breath a sigh of relief and relax - there's still a lot to do. Tom Webb in his comments at the bottom of the page had similar problems with night entry as well as a horrendous encounter with the rips around the Skerries.

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

Mooring options include anchoring, Holyhead Sailing Club moorings, or on what is left of the Holyhead Marina.

Full details are now provided including visitors prices.

If intending to use the swinging moorings provided by Holyhead Sailing Club call the "Club Launch" on VHF channel 37 (M1) as you're approaching. The club moorings are off the beach in front of the club premises and adjacent to the Marina landing stage. The normal hours for this service are 9 AM to 9 PM, and 11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

The launch will meet you and guide you to a mooring. If the launch doesn't respond for any reason pick up an empty mooring, make a note of its number and wait for assistance.

The outer moorings are suitable for boats over 35 feet (Trotts A and B), only boats of less than 25 feet can use the D and E trotts, while trotts F to H are only intended for dinghies.

The boat man will hand you some information about the club and work out to your mooring fees depending on how many nights you are staying. He needs to be paid in cash and the fees are a very reasonable £15 per night for a 30 foot yacht. The fee also covers use of the launch service, temporary membership of the club for the crew including showers toilets etc, plus access to the bar and restaurant when available. Temporary members need to be signed into the visitors book.

If you are staying at the Marina you are still welcome to use the club and its facilities. A link to the club's website is provided below:

http://www.holyheadsailingclub.co.uk/

It is possible to anchor within this harbour clear of the yacht club moorings and the fairway as shown on the chart. This may be an option if you have a very large boat that is too heavy for the club moorings and don't want to fork out for a marina berth... it would be wise to keep the boat attended at all times.

The Marina

Holyhead Marina was in the Western corner of this harbour and had plenty of room for visitors. At the moment they have 100 metres of landing stage and they can raft you up to that if necessary. All the usual Marina facilities are available here and more, and prices on the landing stage work out at  £3.10 per metre per night (min 7m) with departure at noon the following day. Short-stays are charged at £10. Interestingly this Marina works its charges out based on your exact length, with fractions of a metre charged pro rata. That price includes VAT,  and showers (the laundrette is coin op)

A link to the Marina's website is provided below:

http://www.holyheadmarina.co.uk/

To arrange your berth, call "Holyhead Marina" on Ch 37 (M) in the approach. Either a berth will be allocated, or if you don't get a reply secure to the landing stage

After getting tied up visit the office to complete the paperwork, but first check the office is manned by calling on VHF channel 37 (M), as the security gate off the pontoons is locked. 

Facilities

If on the club moorings water is available by Jerry can from the club. If berthed in the Marina water and electricity are available on the pontoons, with toilets,  showers and laundry ashore. Security is handled by 24-hour CCTV with code controlled gates.

Free WiFi at the Marina Office is available, together with Internet access at the office.

They no longer dispense diesel but can supply it in 80 litre drums for decanting into your own fuel tanks. Petrol has to be obtained in cans from the town (see our note below reference a cab ride - makes petrol expensive here!)

An on site Chandlers sells bottled gas (including Camping Gaz 907s) amongst other things, and there's even a Marina grocery store opening the hours mentioned above which carries a reasonable stock of provisions.

Full boatyard facilities are available here covering all kinds of hull constructions together with specialists for inboard and outboard engines, stainless steel welding, and rigging.

If the Marina store can't supply your needs for provisioning you have to take a cab to any of the large supermarkets on the outskirts of town. These include a Tescos and Morrison's. The town itself isn't so far, but still a short cab ride. Here you will find a reasonable range of shops and banks etc.

For crew changes, Holyhead is well served being the terminus of the North Wales Coast Line and is served by Virgin Trains (intercity) and Arriva Trains Wales services. Fast connections to Dublin (well under two hours) are available via the Dublin Swift HSS ferries. The ferry service to Dun Laoghaire has been discontinued.


Trailer Sailors can launch into Holyhead harbour from the ramp belonging to Holyhead Sailing Club. This gives access a half the tidal range with a charge of £10 for non-members. Water-skiing is permitted offshore, but speed limits are enforced within the harbour.

History

Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the north west of Wales.

Although it is the largest town in the county, with a population of 11,237 (2001 census), it is neither the county town nor actually on the island of Anglesey. Instead, it is located on Holy Island which is connected to Anglesey by Four Mile Bridge, so called because it is four miles (6 km) from Holyhead on the old post road from London, and a causeway (known locally as "the cob") built by local philanthropist Lord Stanley in the 19th century. The causeway now carries the A5/A55 road and the railway line to Chester, Crewe and London.

The town centre is built around St. Cybi's Church, which is built inside one of Europe's only three-walled Roman forts (the fourth wall being the sea, which used to come up to the fort). The Romans also built a watchtower on the top of Holyhead Mountain inside Mynydd y Twr, a prehistoric hillfort. Settlements in the area date from prehistoric times, with circular huts, burial chambers and standing stones featuring in the highest concentration in Britain. The current lighthouse is on South Stack on the other side of Holyhead Mountain and is open to the public. The area is also popular with birdwatchers.

Transport

Holyhead has a busy ferry port handling more than 2 million passengers each year. Stena Line, Europe's biggest ferry company, operates from the port as do Irish Ferries. Ferries sail to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire in Ireland and this forms the principal link for surface transport from central and northern England and Wales to Ireland. There is archaeological evidence that people have been sailing between Holyhead and Ireland for 4,000 years. Holyhead's maritime importance was at its height in the 19th century when the two and a half mile (4 km) breakwater, widely acknowledged to be one of Britain's finest, was built, creating a safe harbour for vessels caught in stormy waters on their way to Liverpool and the industrial ports of Lancashire. Holyhead's sea heritage is remembered in a maritime museum.

With the opening of the railway from London to Liverpool, Holyhead lost the London to Dublin Mail contract in 1839 to the Port of Liverpool. Only after the completion of the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1850 and the building of Holyhead railway station did the Irish Mail return to Holyhead. Holyhead is currently the terminus of the North Wales Coast Line and is served by Virgin Trains and Arriva Trains Wales services.

Industry
 
Today, Holyhead's main industry is aluminium-based, with Rio Tinto Group's Anglesey Aluminium subsidiary operating a massive aluminium smelter on the outskirts of the town. There is also a plant that refines bauxite near the site. A large jetty in the harbour receives ships from Jamaica and Australia, and their cargoes of bauxite and aluminium ores are transported on a cable belt rope driven conveyor belt that runs underneath the town to the plant.

The plant relies on its electricity supply from the island's nuclear power station at Wylfa, near Cemaes Bay. As this power station is due to close in 2010, there is speculation that the financial viability of the plant is at risk.

The text on this HISTORY page is covered by the following licence
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

Holyhead Sailing Club, already mentioned, makes visitors welcome at its premises next door to the Marina. It has a nice bar and restaurant that overlooks the moorings.

Also near by is the Boathouse Hotel, and The Bistro.

If none of these suit it will mean a short cab ride to Holyhead Town Centre, where you will find a large range of pubs, together with eating houses ranging from MacDonalds, thru Fish and Chips to Indian and Chinese. Try the links below:


Pubs

http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/results.shtml/el/Holyhead%3BGwynedd/


Restaurants

Family Restaurants in Holyhead - Tripadvisor

Links

Your Ratings & Comments

10 comments
UPDATE SUMMER 2021
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 4th Aug 2021
I reviewed these notes in August 2021. The references to the Marina have been edited to reflect the reduced state of the pontoons. The Yacht Club is taking up some of the slack but at the moment the Marina Landing Stage is managing with all their amenities as usual. I've added a paragraph on the Marina plans.
Holyhead
Written by Rudders | 10th May 2021
Good safe haven with basic offering . Hot welcome shower, laundry. Coffee and town for all your supplies.Good chandlery. (Closed Sunday) .Habour office closed Saturday and Sunday.Sound like promise of infrastructure improvements. But watch this space . We approached from the south. Good offing to the overall standard stuff going north about south and north stacks . However tidal info not that clear for Bardesy sound ! Stayed in Aberdaron bay (lovely spot)wanted to arrive Holyhead in day light . We did and pls so as a few submerged bouys on way to dock. Would not want to rely on fuel or gas. Water and power on short pontoon by white bridge.
Marina Update
Written by Ralph | 9th Mar 2020
Despite the marina owner's best efforts, there is still only a single pontoon (Breakwater 1), connected to land by a bridge.
Services ashore are still available, but office hours have been curtailed in light of the loss of berthing. It is still worth phoning if you are planning a trip to Holyhead (01407 764242) and Holyhead Sailing Club continues to be accommodating (01407 752526) with Visitors' moorings and a launch service during the season.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
FURTHER UPDATE SPRING 2018
Written by Don Thomson | 29th May 2018
We have been reminded that Holyhead Sailing Club still has facilities for visiting boats and can provide visitors moorings as usual with a water taxi service. A point worth remembering if you do not need marina facilities in the future. At the moment you need to check availability in advance.
UPDATE SPRING 2018
Written by Don Thomson | 17th Apr 2018
NEW 2018. There was horrendous damage here during March 2018. As far as we know the marina was pretty-well wrecked and we have no details of the plans for renewal of facilities. If you intend stopping here we advise you contact them well in advance to check on what is available (Though it is hoped that they will have the visitors pontoon up and running by June - albeit with reduced services).
2 of 2 people found this helpful
UPDATE APRIL 2017
Written by Don Thomson | 19th Apr 2017
I reviewed these notes in April 2017 (not before time either!) I've got the new prices in for this season, added a downloadable harbour plan and updated the charts.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Change to Holyhead Sailing Club Website details
Written by FikkiMinn | 29th Jan 2017
The Club Website is on the following link: www.holyheadsailingclub.co.uk. The club launch runs April through October with varying times. All details are on the visitor information tab.
Our facebook page is www.facebook.com/hhsailingclub/
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 22nd Feb 2013
The notes for Holyhead were updated by Don T on the 22nd February 2013. The prices have been adjusted for the 2013 season. Note that the marina has held its 2011 prices for another year so probable increase in 2014. Little else has been changed except to endorse Tom Webbs experience (below) in the dark inside the harbour.
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Tom Webb, around Britain on a 21' Beneteau 2011
Written by Tom Webb Sailing | 31st Oct 2011
12-13/8 – Holyhead –I arrived in Holyhead after a 15 hour night upwind sail from Peel, It always pays to remember that the Skerries has an incredible rip tide that I battled with for a good 4 hours, once nearing Holyhead there is plenty of large ferries and shipping to look out for but monitoring the VTS on channel 14 gives you a clear idea of traffic movement. The marina is hidden behind quite a few mooring buoys which can be difficult to navigate in the dark, once inside the marina is another very well sheltered marina with plenty of space, the people In the office are full of advice and are very helpful. The facilities are one of the best on the trip, you get your own private room with shower, bathroom with space!
3 of 3 people found this helpful
Entry into Holyhead
Written by dononshytalk | 7th Apr 2011
This is not a place for the faint hearted! When the tide is full flood I think there is a very heavy back eddy between the North Stack and Holihead Pier. I came round the South Stack with speeds coming up to 9 knots on the GPS, which continued until I turned towards the pier off the North Stack - I then hit a back eddy which reduced my speed of advance to less than two knots. This would have been ok if it hadn't been for the fact that I had a following sea and a beam wind - I couldn't turn into wind to reef for fear of being turned on me beam ends - so I ended up surfing down steep seas, very over sailed - the log showing 6,7 and 8 knots whilst the GPS was still showing less than two knots. The mistake was that I knew I was over sailed as I passed the North stack but had thought that with a mile and a half to go I could manage by just cheating the main sail - it was only going to take twenty minutes at the speed I was doing through the water - then I hit the back eddy. It was an hour and a quarter of extreme anxiety - I was very afraid that I was about to lose the tiller to weather helm or the mast to the wind - and that was with everything flying!

The trick in this bay is to sight a temporary transit as soon as you can see the pier head - or match the GPS course made good with the bearing of the pier head ( put it in as a way point) - the course to steer can be 45 degrees off the course made good.
10 of 10 people found this helpful
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