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Coleraine

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Overview





Coleraine is a small town on the north coast of Ireland situated on the River Bann about five miles above the entrance. It provides berthing at a choice of two fully serviced marinas one just a mile north of the town and another alongside the town quay.

Coleraine is a small town on the north coast of Ireland situated on the River Bann about five miles above the entrance. It provides berthing at a choice of two fully serviced marinas one just a mile north of the town and another alongside the town quay.

The River Bann provides complete protection and all-round shelter. River access is straightforward between well-lit stone training walls assisted by alignment beacons and leading lights. Once through the entrance, there are no issues progressing up the well-marked river to Coleraine Marina. The entrance, however, is subject to swell, outflow overfalls, and dangerous surf in moderately adverse conditions where careful planning is required. In the worst case, with north and northwest gales, the sea breaks right across it rendering it impassable. Consequently, no attempt should be made by a newcomer in any onshore winds of Force 6 or above.



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Keyfacts for Coleraine
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingMSD (marine sanitation device) pump out facilitiesHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 6 or more from N, NNE, NE, W, WNW, NW and NNW.Restriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: overfalls, tidal rips or breakers in the vacinityNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
January 27th 2023

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingMSD (marine sanitation device) pump out facilitiesHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 6 or more from N, NNE, NE, W, WNW, NW and NNW.Restriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: overfalls, tidal rips or breakers in the vacinityNote: harbour fees may be charged



HM  028 7034 2012      info@coleraineharbour.com     HM Website      Ch.12 [Colerain Port Control]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 8.660' N, 006° 40.590' W

This is immediately adjacent to the north-western most pontoon of Coleraine Marina.

What is the initial fix?

The following River Bann Entrance Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 10.565' N, 006° 46.493' W
It is a ½ mile north-northwest of the river entrance. It is set in open water, just inside the 10-metre contour and on the 165° T alignment of leading lights that lead between the pierheads.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in northeast Ireland’s coastal overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location.
  • Approach Barmouth's conspicuous training walls east of north and identify the leading marks.

  • Do not approach if there is breaking water or the swell is noticeably breaking upon the ends of training walls.

  • Steer in keeping the transits in-line on 165°T.

  • Once inside the river it is simply a matter of following the lit beacons all the way to Coleraine.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Coleraine for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Seatons Marina - 0.9 nautical miles NW
  2. The Lower River Bann - 2.7 nautical miles WNW
  3. Portrush Harbour - 3.8 nautical miles N
  4. Portballintrae - 6.3 nautical miles NE
  5. White Bay - 9.9 nautical miles WNW
  6. Portnocker - 10 nautical miles WNW
  7. Cornashamma Bay - 10.2 nautical miles WNW
  8. Magilligan Point - 10.4 nautical miles WNW
  9. Portkill - 10.4 nautical miles WNW
  10. Silver Strand - 10.5 nautical miles WNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Seatons Marina - 0.9 miles NW
  2. The Lower River Bann - 2.7 miles WNW
  3. Portrush Harbour - 3.8 miles N
  4. Portballintrae - 6.3 miles NE
  5. White Bay - 9.9 miles WNW
  6. Portnocker - 10 miles WNW
  7. Cornashamma Bay - 10.2 miles WNW
  8. Magilligan Point - 10.4 miles WNW
  9. Portkill - 10.4 miles WNW
  10. Silver Strand - 10.5 miles WNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
Coleraine
Image: Michael Harpur


Coleraine is a large town and small port that stands on both sides of the River Bann 4½ upriver from the entrance. It is the largest town on the Causeway Coast and it is sited at the lowest bridgeable point of the river where it is 90 metres wide. The River Bann is the longest river in Ulster, with the Lower and Upper Banns combined its length is 129 km or 80 miles. Exiting into the Atlantic at Barmouth, on the north coast, the river winds its way from its source in the Mourne Mountains, situated in the southeast corner of Northern Ireland, pausing in the middle to widen into the enormous Lough Neagh.

Coleraine Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


The port town of Coleraine offers visitors a choice of two riverside marinas, Coleraine Marina and Coleraine Harbour. Coleraine Marina is on the northeast bank of the river, 4 miles from the entrance and one mile north of the town of Coleraine. The Coleraine Borough Council-run modern 105-berth marina can accommodate vessels of up to 18 metres LOA with draughts of 3 metres LAT at the outer pontoons, reducing to 1.4 metres LAT nearer the bank.


Coleraine Marina is on the northeast bank of the river
Image: Michael Harpur


Fifteen berths are available for visitors and typically, most boats visiting Coleraine stay here. Contact the marina VHF Ch. 37 [Coleraine Marina] or make arrangments via the Portrush Harbour Office Landline+442870 822307, Mobile+44 (0)2870 822307. The clubhouse of the welcoming Coleraine Yacht Club External link is adjacent to the marina.


Coleraine Harbour quayside pontoon on Riversdale Quay
Image: Michael Harpur


A mile upriver Coleraine Harbour has quayside pontoons on both banks of the river and at the heart of Coleraine. Contact the Harbour Master VHF Ch. 12 [Colerain Port Control], Landline+44 (0)28 7034 2012, E-mailinfo@coleraineharbour.com, website External link. Coleraine Harbour charges a flat rate of [2023] £30.00 per night for visitors' berths and Coleraine town centre is a few minutes stroll from either of these berths.


The railway bridge above Coleraine Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


Leisure craft carrying any airdraft will however require a railway bridge lift to proceed upriver to Coleraine Harbour. The bridge is situated a ⅓ of a mile above Coleraine Marina and has a clearance of 4.9 metres HAT. The lift can be arranged via the Harbour Office during office hours.


How to get in?
Barmouth where the River Bann enters the sea between two piers
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in northeast Ireland’s coastal overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location. The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning on this corner of Ireland and these are covered in Rathlin Island's Church Bay Click to view haven entry. Moreover, it is best to plan the approach to the river to be at slack water or the first of a rising tide and not on the full run of the Ebb which attains 4 knots.


Portstewart Point as seen from Barmouth
Image: Michael Harpur


Barmouth where the River Bann enters the Atlantic between stone training walls and is situated 2 miles southwest of Portstewart Point. It is made highly conspicuous by its large stone breakwaters projecting 400 metres out from the sandy shore on either side.


Portstewart Strand leading to the river entrance
Image: Tourism NI


Eastern Approach On the eastern side, from Portstewart Point, the rocky coast turns south and then levels to a sandy beach backed by a range of sand hills. There are some outlying rocks before Portstewart, the Lausons Rocks, but there are no hidden dangers beyond a ¼ of a mile from the shoreline. Portstewart Strand leads to the river entrance which is made readily apparent by the training walls.
Please note

The second half of both flood and ebb tides have a beneficial tidal eddy that runs along the coast between Ramore Head and the River Bann.



Magilligan Point to the Mussenden Temple overlooking Downhill Strand
Image: Tourism Ireland


Western Approach On the west side, from Lough Foyle, the entire coastline is fronted by a low sandy beach extending 7 miles from Magilligan Point. With the exception of the Tuns Bank, extending 3 miles northeast from Magilligan Point at the Foyle entrance, this passage is clear of any danger save for the shoaling beach. High sand ridges extend east along the coast for about 4 miles from Magilligan Point. Then, for a further 2 miles, rocky cliffs extend up to the entrance to the River Bann.


Mussenden Temple
Image: Kent Wang via CC BY 2.0


1¼ miles west of the entrance stands the conspicuous and classical Mussenden Temple which provides a good marker for the entrance. This is a white tower approximately 5 metres in height situated on the edge of the rocky cliffs overlooking Castlerock Strand which leads to the entrance.


Barmouth as seen from the Mussenden Temple
Image: Kent Wang via CC BY 2.0


Keeping a ½ mile offshore on the western approaches to Barmouth from the west will be clear of all dangers.


Barmouth's stone training walls
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location The River Bann Entrance initial fix is approximately ¼ of a mile north-northwest of the river mouth and set on the 165° T leading lights alignment. The entrance's stone training walls project 400 metres north from the beaches on either side.


Do not approach when overfalls are visible or the swell is breaking upon the
pier heads

Image: Tourism NI


Before progressing, check that there are no commercial traffic movements which run up to Coleraine Harbour. The harbour office announces traffic movement on VHF Ch. 12 during its office hours and it is advisable to maintain a listen on this channel when operating in the River Bann. Carefully monitor conditions for signs of breaking water. As a rule, the entrance must not be attempted in strong onshore winds when overfalls are visible on the approach or the swell is noticeably breaking upon the ends of training walls.

If in any way uncertain it is advisable to contact the Harbour Office Landline+44 (0)28 70 34 2012 or VHF Ch. 12 [Coleraine Harbour Radio]. The Harbour Office monitors the entrance by CCTV and they are best able to advise an approaching vessel should there be any apprehension.


The east pierhead's white pyramidic concrete tower
Image: Michael Harpur


The east pierhead has a 4.5-metre-high white pyramidic concrete tower.

Barmouth East Pierhead - Fl R 5s 6m 2M position: 55° 10.323'N, 006°46.338' W

The west pierhead has an unlighted metal (rusted) post at its head. A starboard-lighted pole, Fl G 5s 4m 2M is set back about one-third of the way along the wall or about 40 metres from the pierhead of the West Mole. It is obscured from north round to west and the pole itself is deeply rusted so that appears a brownish colour.


River Bann leading light beacons
Image: Michael Harpur


The leading light beacons are set on the west bank of the river at an elevation of 6 metres and 14 metres. The front is situated south-southeast of the entrance and it is a 5-metre-high white pyramidal metal tower; Oc 5s 6m 2M.


The front leading light beacon
Image: Michael Harpur


The rear is situated approximately 300 metres further south-southeast in the sandhills and it is a white square concrete tower; Oc 5s 14m 2M.

Barmouth rear Alignment Marker - Oc.5s.14m2M position: 55° 9.869' N 006° 46.173' W

The channel between the pierheads of the training walls is 45-metre wide
Image: Michael Harpur


From the initial fix, identify the leading marks and steer in keeping them in line on 165° T. Expect to pass over the sandbar which is constantly moving on this transit. It is dredged to a minimum depth of approximately 3.5 metres LAT.

Pass in the 45-metre wide channel between the pierheads of the training walls which has a least depth of 2.9 metres. Keep well clear of the area off the ends of the pierheads and tend towards the east wall as the western wall is foul with boulders.
Please note

Do not cut in at angles into the entrance as both piers have enormous off-lying rock boulders.



Once inside the river channel maintain a uniform width of about 200 metres and a depth of 3.4 metres to Coleraine. This is well marked with lit beacons; green Fl G 5s on the southwest side and red Fl R 5s on the northeast side.


The No. 2 port hand beacon off Ballyaghran Point
Image: Michael Harpur


The only odd exception is the first encountered No. 2 port hand beacon off Ballyaghran Point. This stands opposite the front leading mark which appears almost centre-channel with a Lt Fl R 3s. Nevertheless, pass this to port as depths reduce abruptly outside the marked channel in the River Bann.

From here it is simply a matter of following the well-marked channel to Coleraine that has a least width of 45 metres all the way. It is possible to anchor immediately inside the entrance of the Lower Bann Click to view haven as it provides complete protection from any seaway but little in the way of air cover as it has low ground all-round.


The well-marked channel leading upriver to Coleraine
Image: Michael Harpur


The first marina encountered is the private Seatons Marina Click to view haven on the northeast bank that potentially has some visitor berths and is covered separately. It is situated approximately 3 miles from the entrance and just over a mile before Coleraine.


Coleraine Marina as seen from the south
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Coleraine Marina is situated on the northeast bank just over 4 miles from the entrance and approximately 1 mile downriver and to the north of the town. Berth as directed by prior arrangement.


Coleraine Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


Leisure craft carrying any height and intending to proceed to Coleraine Harbour will require the opening of the railway bridge to pass upstream. It has a clearance of 4.9 metres HAT and a request to open can be made by contacting the Harbour Office in advance during working hours.


Vessels with an air draught exceeding 4.9 metres HAT will require a bridge lift
Image: Michael Harpur


Once past the railway bridge, the first pontoon will be seen attached to the quays on east side of the river 450 metres upriver of the bridge.


The Coleraine Harbour quayside pontoon below the bridge
Image: Michael Harpur


The Riversdale Quay, on the east bank 300 metres upriver, will open up once abreast of the first pontoon. Berth as arranged with the Harbour Office.


Why visit here?
Coleraine takes its name from the Irish 'Cúil Raithin' meaning 'corner/nook of ferns' or 'ferny corner'. Legend has it that this name goes back to the 5th Century and the coming of St Patrick. The Saint was received here with great honour and hospitality by the area's chieftain named 'Nadslua'. He offered the Saint a site to build his church next to the River Bann. The area was overgrown with ferns, a 'nook of ferns', which lent the church the name and by extension the area. This name was later anglicised as Colrain, Colerain and finally Coleraine.

But Ireland's history runs much deeper here than the 5th century. Coleraine is home to the Mountsandel which is situated one mile above Coleraine, rising to a large mound or mount, which gives the site its name, that towers over the right or east bank of the river. Flint tools found here indicate that Stone Age hunters camped here to fish salmon in the natural weir. Their ancient wooden houses were excavated and carbon dated to 7,800 BC. This makes this the earliest known settlement of Ireland's first hunter-gatherers. Dating back nearly 10,000 years to the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age period the site is often referred to as 'the cradle of humanity in Ireland'. The mount was used as a fort from the Late Bronze Age (900-300 BC) if not earlier when it was then called 'Dun-da-bheann'. Pronounced 'dun-davan', or the fort of the two peaks or gables, it was the residence of a chief called 'Niall of the brilliant deeds' a little before the Christian era, and which is celebrated in ancient Irish romance. It was converted into a motte by the Normans in the 13th century and re-used as an artillery emplacement during the 1641 rebellion. The great fort or mound, one of the largest in the country, may be accessed through Mountsandel forest with the closest entrance being near the side of Coleraine Courthouse.

Being situated at the lowest bridgeable point of the River Bann, where the river is 90 metres wide, Coleraine has always been a strategic area that has been hotly contested through the centuries. It was placed under siege twice by both Kings of Munster and Ulster. The town was also subject to the Elizabethan, Cromwellian and Williamite wars. Finally in the 17th century with the 'Plantation' of English and Scottish settlers, James I put considerable pressure on the London Livery Companies or Guilds to become involved in the Ulster scheme and what was then County Coleraine. The Guilds were descended from the Medieval Guilds which were created to defend the positions of workers in a wide range of trades. By the 17th century, they held considerable wealth and were looking for investment opportunities. Backed by the companies of the city of London, a commercial basis was created from which Coleraine developed from two urban communities and a fortified town was built on the east bank. This was besieged in the 1641 rising and estimates suggest that up to 2,000 inhabitants died, mostly of disease. Many of the other Londonderry settlements were attacked in this rising and some, such as Movanagher, were abandoned and never rebuilt. The slightly skewed street pattern of Coleraine's town centre is the legacy of that early exercise in town planning. Traces of the lines of ramparts that provided the Plantation town with its defences are also visible.

Further significant expansion came throughout the 19th century with the arrival of industrialisation. The Moles protecting the entrance to the river were built in the 1880s and repaired and improved in 1929. The river port was expanded and handled cargoes of coal, potatoes and naphtha. The coming of the railway further spurred development but the town was set to see its greatest expansion in the 20th century after the Second World War. This was after the 1965 arrival of one of the campuses of the University of Ulster which effectively doubled the population. After this Coleraine took on all the hallmarks of a university town with the expansion of associated commerce along with the development of sporting and recreational facilities. This bolstered the town's size from an area of less than 2 square km in the early part of the 20th century, to the present more dispersed town of about 11 square km situated on both sides of the river with the University of Ulster on its northern outskirts.

Today Coleraine is the principal town on the Causeway Coast a prosperous market town renowned for education, traditional linen, whiskey and salmon fishery. It can be described as a busy town, that quietly retires at night with much of the nightlife being taken up by the nearby seaside towns of Portrush and Portstewart. The town's rich history is reflected in its architecture which may be easily explored via walks around it and along the scenic river banks. The Visitor Information Centre in Coleraine provides a Walking Heritage Trail, 'Around the Ramparts' and also a historical touring route to explore the 17th-century plantation town. Within the historically significant Mountsandel forest there are two linear paths, one along the top of the slope and the other at the foot of the slope, partly following the line of the river. Walkers can combine the two paths to form a circular route or make use of the steps at the Fort to create alternative routes. Immediately south of the town, there is a weir where the migrating salmon can be seen leaping through a series of steps on their route to their hatching grounds. Alongside this Coleraine has a wide range of local activities available that the visitor centre can best provide advice.


Coleraine and the River Bann are the perfect places to run to in the event of a bad forecast
Image: Michael Harpur


From a purely boating point of view, Coleraine offers complete protection with excellent provisioning. If a bad spell is coming this is the place to run for but in advance of any difficulties that might occur at the entrance. Its range of transport links makes it the ideal place to securely leave a boat and/or visit the Giant's Causeway, a twenty-five-minute bus ride away, and the distillery village of Bushmills, also well-served by buses. The Mussenden Temple, seen atop a precipitous cliff, is also close by overlooking County Donegal in one direction and Scotland in another. The river offers the option to cruise Lough Neigh, highlighted separately in the Lower Bann External link entry.


What facilities are available?
Coleraine Marina offers visiting Cruisers all facilities and caters for vessels up to 60ft. in overall length. Berths are furnished with water and electricity, and the modern marina building offers changing & showering facilities plus a chandlery that caters for bottled gas. Diesel and petrol are also available and there is a slipway that provides launch capabilities for vessels up to 20ft. Car and cycle hire can be arranged at the office. The marina has a travelift for launching vessels up to 40ft in overall length and 13 tons displacement, and a hard standing for 25 boats.


All pontoons have water and electricity and have 24 hour CCTV coverage. Access to the pontoons are by means of an electronic fob. (Gate fobs and electricity cards can be obtained from the Harbour Office).

With a population of almost 25,000, shopping in Coleraine is excellent. Likewise transport connections are good to Belfast 55 miles (88.5 km) to the northwest, and to Derry 30 miles (48.3 km) east, both of which are linked by major roads and railway connections. Therefore the City of Derry Airport, and Belfast International Airport, the main regional airport to the south, and George Best Belfast City Airport to the southeast, are all relatively accessible from Coleraine. The Riversdale Quay in Coleraine has a 35 tonne derrick crane available for lifting yachts where some maybe lifted with masts rigged. Some space is available for wintering here on the hard, in the open or undercover.


Any security concerns?
The marina has twenty four hour security.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades.





The Mussenden Temple as seen from Barmouth
Image: Michael Harpur

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