Navigational Information:
For entering and leaving Strangford Lough


(This information is for general guidance only. It is the responsibility of each skipper to ensure he has the correct updated charts and plans his passage accordingly)


It is ESSENTIAL to have CHART 2156 (There is also a chart of the Narrows 2159 )

When planning to enter the Lough, the only essential is to come through the Narrows on the flood tide. It is foolish for a sailing yacht to try to enter if there is any ebb running out of the Lough as not only will the current , (of about 6 knots) virtually prevent any progress, but possible standing waves on the bar will also reduce speed through the water.

If arriving too early it is best to reach off or go into the convenient Ardglass Marina, (watch depth at LW Springs), 5 miles S of the Fairway buoy, and come back at the start of the flood when there is normally flat water and no problem.

It is a good idea when coming from N to leave or pass Belfast Lough around LW Belfast as this ensures favourable tide going S and HW Strangford is 1 hr 52 mins after HW Belfast, so this gives plenty of time to get favourable tide at the narrows.

Approaching from N, while there is a passage inside the South Rock, it is best to pass by the lightship, inside 2 cables on its W side is OK. Then keep to the E of the Cardinal mark at the Butter Pladdy and approach the bar buoy Cardinal from the direction of the Fairway buoy to keep clear of Quintin Rocks..

It is not a good idea to take a short cut inside the bar buoy Cardinal without local knowledge.

On passing the bar buoy head at first for the Angus Rock side of the channel, but do not pass too close to Angus Rock to avoid shallows at N end of Angus.

From South, St Patrick`s Rock can be passed either side, though passing on it`s seaward side gives a clearer entrance to the narrows, leaving the bar buoy to Starboard, and taking mid channel between Pladdy Lug beacon and the Angus Rock.

If stopping in Portaferry Marina, to enjoy the delights ashore, remember there is often about 1.5 knots current running through the berths, and if your yacht draws more than 7 feet take care at LW Springs. The Marina Manager John Murray can be telephoned on his mobile 07703209780

Leave to Starboard the Walter Rock, 3 cables NW of the Portaferry Hotel and give a berth of 2 cables on it`s NW side to Ballyhenry Pt beacon.

The above chart is essential inside the lough, most of the rocks or pladdies are marked with beacons, perches or floats, but some of these can be subject to storm damage and it is a good idea to plan your course by reference to the chart or chart plotter.

Leaving the lough of course one goes out on the ebb.

If the wind is fresh onshore from S or SE, it is essential to accurately plan to be at the bar at slack water, either the first or last of the ebb. (Only time for one last quick pint).

At the start of the ebb out of the lough there will be about 4 hours of N going ebb outside and at the end of the ebb there will be about 4 hours of S going flood.


Having entered Strangford Lough the passage to the Club is straightforward. Keep on a transit between the windmill above Portaferry and the middle of Killyleagh town.

Killyleagh now has a sectored light on the Town Rock 54⁰ 23.617' N 5⁰ 38.535' W (Please consult Admiralty chart updates for details of all new lights in the Lough)

After leaving the moored boats at Killyleagh to starboard, Killyleagh reefs to port, and entering the Quoile river estuary, the first mark to pick up is the ToadStone pole, 54.22.46N, 005.40.03W This pole is left to starboard and has deep water up to the mark.

The next pole, which marks the Gibbs Island / Scotsman pladdy and the entrance to the Quoile moorings, has a crows nest type structure on top and is easily recognised. The Scotsman should also be left to starboard and given a wide berth. Visitor moorings, in line, lie ahead and are available free of charge.
The Clubhouse is situated to port, in through the moorings. One last obstacle lies to starboard before tying up at the pontoon. This is a small pladdy just off the pontoon and is marked by a pole, and an East Cardinal buoy. Do not go between the pole and the W shore.

The Clubhouse and Showers are temporarily closed at the moment due to Covid.  The Bar opens Sat. 1800 - 2300 (May - September inclusive).  The pontoon has water and mains electrical points. The pontoon can be very busy at weekends but space can usually be found during weekdays. To make the maximum use of the pontoon, boats cannot be left unattended over night, and the maximum time on the loading bay (marked by red line) is 1 hour.

A Donation from Visitors using the Pontoon and Club facilities overnight is always appreciated.   A nominal rate of  £15 per night per boat up to 30 foot in length and £20 per night per boat for 30 foot and longer is usually the norm.

There are a number of beautiful nature walks convenient to the Club premises, unfortunately the nearest shops are in Downpatrick and would require a taxi, as the town is approx. 5 miles away.

The Club has Sailability status  and is Disabled friendly 

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