Harbour Master VHF #12, #16 tel 028 4484 1291 8am to 5pm Mon to Fri
Phennick Cove Marina VHF #M #80 tel 028 4484 2332 or 07711 232525
This harbour is the only all weather, all tides (?) harbour between Howth and Bangor and provides a working base for a small fleet of fishing vessels which crowd into the harbour at the end of the day. There is a fish processing plant on the South Pier which is conspicuous from the approach. There are doubts about the "all tides" claim in respect of the marina as depths around the NE end of the detached mole may be less than advertised (see below)
The harbour has three basic areas; the fish dock which occupies the inside of the South Pier, the marina which is tucked into the Western corner behind a detached breakwater and the inner harbour, which dries, in the North West corner. Between the South Pierhead and the detached mole is Churn Rock marked with an SCM, boats entering the fish dock leave it to Starboard whilst those proceeding to the marina leave it well to port.
The inner harbour is seldom used except for a few flat bottomed angling boats.
There has been some sort of harbour here since early Norman times but it wasn’t until the Tudors that it began to grow into a major seaport on Ireland’s eastern seaboard. The present day harbour was completed in Victorian times, earlier development having been severely damaged just after Victoria came to the English throne. Much of the early fortifications and architecture can still be seen around Ardglass which is now mainly a dormitory town for Co Down whilst the harbour still has a large fish processing base.
Positioned just five miles to the South of the entrance to Strangford Lough this is an ideal spot to hold for a favourable tide in the narrows at Killard Point. If you set course outside the harbour here at five hours before HW Belfast and achieve 5kts you should arrive nicely in the window to make an entry to Strangford Lough
Before making an approach contact the HM on VHF #12 to advise him that you want to come in.....
.... and then call the Marina on #80 to be allocated a berth appropriate for your draft. If deep drafted you would be wise to seek advice from the HM on the depth of water available around the corner into the marina.
If coming from the South, care should be taken to identify Ardglass correctly; you would not be the first to swan into Killough Bay from the South mistaking it for Ardglass. Ardglass Bay is much less conspicuous than Killough Bay but it does have its unmistakeable high South Pier.
There are no off-lying hidden dangers and if it’s a nice day there’s no need to plod all the way out to the initial fix, just stay well clear of the end of the South Pier foundations (probably marked by a pole) and turn in towards the harbour when the white lighthouse on the end of the North pier begins to open.
If coming from the North as you weather Phennick Point and its shoals you can make for the end of the South Pier until you run into the harbour on 311(T). After that, depending on who you believe, there are a number of buoys marking the safe channel within the harbour; some of these are shown on AC0633, some are not. The SCM shown on the charts is the mark on the Churn Rock; the buoyage into the marina channel starts with an ECM followed closely by a PHM after which the channel into the marina is buoyed and easy to follow. There are a number of Cardinal marks on the top of tall poles scattered around the central reef shown on AC0633 some of which appear on the chart as faint vertical lines.You may be confused by this on your first entry; it’s no problem in daylight, just take it easy, leave everything red to port, green to starboard and make sure you know your ECMs from your WCMs and which side to pass them on!!
At night it has been reported that the sector light is difficult to pick out from the town lights behind it, so what the others are like is likely to be the same and it would be unwise to make your first visit here after dark.
The buoyed channel into the marina is given as dredged to 3.3m but a few years ago a vessel drawing 1.5m ran aground abeam the No4 buoy at LWS with a tide prediction of 0.7m. How close he was to that buoy is not reported, but in any case, watch your echo sounder and give all buoys a respectable offing.
The suspicion that all is not as it seems in the vicinity of the ECM and the PHM at the NE end of the detached mole in the middle of the harbour was further evidenced in the summer of 2013 when a vessel drawing 1.83m grounded there on a 0.4m tide.
Update spring 2015. The marina says that the channel all the way into the marina was dredged to a least depth of 6.5 feet in the summer of 2014 and there were no reports of groundings that summer so our cautions about depths may no longer be relevant - but you never know!!
There is seldom a berth in the fish dock for a yacht....
.... but if you need diesel you may have to take your boat round there for delivery by tanker. There’s not much room to anchor anywhere in the harbour so you will have to go in to the marina where the pontoons have water and shore power.
The berths vary in depth from 1.7m to 3.2m and it is reported that it’s fairly tight They are charging £30.00 for a 10 metre boat per day in 2021 - I get the feeling that the prices are extrapolated from that on a very rough basis
All the normal marina facilities are available, including showers (£1) and a laundrette. Fuel can be got in cans from the garage on Ardglass Road to the NW of the Marina or you may be able to arrange diesel delivery with the HM. The marina has WiFi and there is a slip available for trailer sailors at £3.00 per launch and £3.00 per recovery.
As would be expected there are engineers in the town who look after the fishing boats so you should be able to get small repairs done. In the town there are plenty of shops for provisions.
There are many pubs and restaurants but none which merit special mention so best ask the locals for recommendations. We have been told by several yachties that the Golf Club welcomes non members and is an excellent place to eat.
For other ideas