Harbour Keeper VHF 12 tel no +44 (0) 1624 833205 (0900 to 1630)
mobile (Southern duty Officer) 07624 451503
Marine Operations Centre (out of hours) 01624 686612
Like all the harbours in the Isle of Mann it is run from a central office and there is a "Harbour Keeper" who may cover several small harbours or, in the case of the larger harbours, just the one.
In the case of Castletown the "Souther duty officer" covers Derby Haven, Casteltown, Port St Mary and Port Erin. If he is unavailable for any reason his mobile will be diverted to the Marine Ops Centre.
Castletown has a long history reaching back in the times of the Vikings and has a medieval castle which was once the home of kings and the centre of government on the Isle of Man. It was mainly a fishing and commercial port in better times, but the commercial activity is no more and there is only a small fishing fleet.
The harbour is situated in the North Western corner of the bay and consists of several parts; an outer harbour which extends back as far as a swinging footbridge and is protected by a breakwater (the South Pier) along its south side and divided by a short pier with a small lighthouse at its end; the middle harbour beyond the swinging footbridge and further in, behind a fixed bridge, there is the inner harbour suitable for small motor boats that can get under the bridge (about 1.5m air draft). The various quays all have different names as shown on our chartlet. All of these harbours dry so are no use to you if you cannot take the ground. In any weather from the SW through to the SE this is not a good place to be.
Castletown is what some people might call “quaint”; its streets were formed long before the motor car happened and so are narrow and windy (It used to be a brilliant stage on the Isle of Man Car Rally!!). The whole of the harbour area is dominated by the Castle, the quaysides are narrow, the whole atmosphere is very olde worlde and, on a sunny day, an absolute delight. Trouble is that it is such a lovely spot you may have to share it with a lot of other people on a summer’s weekend.
You would think that the close proximity of the Airport would be a draw back but in fact most of the traffic is turbo prop and passes over the fields to the North of the town and as you are unlikely to be there in southerly winds you won’t be troubled by climb-outs from their southerly runway (RW 21 for the aficionados)
Derby Haven round the corner from Castletown is a shallow bay which is unprotected from the SE through to the north via East but holds no problems in settled weather. There is a breakwater across the middle of the bay with a light on its SW end and a red perch a bit to the left of that which marks the channel into the area behind the breakwater which is only suitable for twin keelers that can take the ground. There is room to anchor in the middle of the bay on a line between St Michaels Island and the NE end of the breakwater.
There is an IOM harbour information website which lists all the IOM harbours and a whole raft of downloadable docs (most of which do not apply to cruising skippers) at:-
Isle of Man Government - Harbours Information
Isle of Man Government - Castletown harbour
The tidal streams close in around the IOM do not follow those depicted in the UKHO tidal Atlas; there are often counter currents. For close-in information you can access the IOM's own tidal streams info at
We suggest that if you are spending any time in the Irish sea with regular visits to the IOM you visit those two internet pages, print and add them to your Pilot Book.
If you intend to enter Castletown harbour and take the ground you need
..... to be here two & a half hours either side of HW and if you are deep keeled probably best to get here dead on HW. Whatever your intentions it would be a good idea to contact the Harbour Keeper well before arrival to arrange a berth. (He only listens out on VHF if he’s expecting a vessel)
If approaching from around Dreswick Point stay tight in (a cable and a half from the high tide mark will keep you clear of the rocks) and in that way you’ll be inside the rough stuff around that head; if you are unhappy doing that then you will have to stand off by a good mile and a half to clear the overfalls.
Coming in from the SW just watch out for “The Stack”. (it’s not a hazard but you can go in nice and close for a photo!!)
From either direction make for the red can buoy in the middle of the bay and leave it to port (of course, who wouldn’t?) If you shape your course for the Red and White Light on the end of the South Pier that’ll keep you clear of Boe Norris. At night the visibility of the “rear” pier light (Oc R 4s) is 142° to 322° which, if you can keep it just in sight to the left of the front light will give you a good line to follow in. At night the aero light on the top of the King William College building in line with the red can buoy (017°T) will make a good line to run into the bay but be sure you identify the correct aero light as the airport will have others.
The approach to Derby Haven is without problems; the ruined tower on St Michaels Island and the light tower on the breakwater are conspicuous; just be aware that the rocks around both headlands extend out a little into entrance of the bay
If you are able to take the ground you will be spoiled for choice
,.......though naturally the presence of other boats may limit this (doesn’t it always?). Both walls are available in the outer harbour as is Irish Quay and the Steam Packet Quay and all have ladders. In the Middle Harbour again all walls are available and have ladders but most berths seem to be occupied by local boats. Favourite would be the far end of the Customs Quay, just outside the pub, but, and yes you’ve guessed it, one of the locals has that!! A night in the harbour will cost a 10m boat £25 (that includes VAT at 20%)
Other than that you can anchor in the Bay just SE of the Harbour and land your dinghy on the slip inside the outer harbour.
Anchoring in Derby Haven depends entirely on your type of boat and its draft. If you are twinned keeled and can take the ground you can proceed in past the breakwater (when there is enough depth) and anchor with the other boats there; otherwise you will have to anchor further out near the entrance to the bay. If you pick a spot close to the SE shore of the bay there’s a small slip there to land your dinghy and the Castletown Golf links Hotel is nearby. If you choose to land near the village remember that you will have a fair old way to haul your dinghy from the waterline.
At Castletown there is water at taps on the quays and shore power at some of them. Toilets & showers are ashore. Diesel & petrol is available at the local garage about quarter of a mile away. There are several small supermarkets and loads of other shops including hardware shops and chemists.
There are no facilities at Derby Haven as the village consists mainly of residential properties; it’s about a mile’s walk to Castletown from the middle of the village.
There is a wealth of pubs, restaurants and fast food outlets in Castletown. The Castle itself is very much worth a visit and is steeped in history. Castletown is also a stop on the Manx Steam Railway with its four times a day service to Port Erin or Douglas. Transport links from here to the rest of the Island make it the ideal place to choose as a base to explore the Island; a sort of “where shall we go today” place to return to for a pleasant evening ashore before turning in.
Bus & train time tables https://www.gov.im/categories/travel-traffic-and-motoring/bus-and-rail