England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes
Boat
Maintenance
Comfort
Operations
Safety
Other



NextPrevious

The Lough Swilly Marina

Tides and tools
Overview





The small village of Fahan is located on the Inishowen Peninsula upon the eastern shore of Lough Swilly, about three miles south of Buncrana. Fahan hosts The Lough Swilly Marina which welcomes visitors and there is also the possibility of anchoring off outside in a scenic and tranquil setting.

Tucked away in a recess of the highly protected lough, and enclosed behind breakwaters, the marina affords complete protection. Fahan Creek, close outside, also provides a well-sheltered anchorage. Access is straightforward in daylight only, as the final marks to the marina are unlit, and a sandbar, with as little as a metre of water over it, fronts the final approaches so an entry should be made near to high water.



3 comments
Keyfacts for The Lough Swilly Marina
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway 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 locationPost Office in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometres


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2.5 metres (8.2 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
October 24th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway 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 locationPost Office in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometres


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

55° 5.149' N, 007° 28.869' W

This is the head of the southeastern pier at the entrance to the marina.

What is the initial fix?

The following Lough Swilly Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 17.800' N, 007° 35.030' W
This is an approach position for the lough that keeps a vessel clear of Fanad and Dunaff Heads where there can be some confused seas. It is also close south of the first waypoint of the Lough Swilly Route.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in northwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Erris Head to Malin Head Route location. A set of waypoints to assist when running up lough, as far as Fanad, can be found in the Lough Swilly route Route location.


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 The Lough Swilly Marina for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Rathmullan - 1.1 miles WNW
  2. Buncrana - 1.6 miles NNE
  3. Macamish Bay - 2.2 miles NNW
  4. Scraggy Bay - 3.7 miles NNW
  5. Ramelton - 3.9 miles WSW
  6. Dunree Bay - 4.2 miles NNW
  7. Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) - 4.6 miles SE
  8. Crummie's Bay - 4.6 miles NNW
  9. Culmore Bay - 4.9 miles ESE
  10. Portsalon - 5.3 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Rathmullan - 1.1 miles WNW
  2. Buncrana - 1.6 miles NNE
  3. Macamish Bay - 2.2 miles NNW
  4. Scraggy Bay - 3.7 miles NNW
  5. Ramelton - 3.9 miles WSW
  6. Dunree Bay - 4.2 miles NNW
  7. Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) - 4.6 miles SE
  8. Crummie's Bay - 4.6 miles NNW
  9. Culmore Bay - 4.9 miles ESE
  10. Portsalon - 5.3 miles NNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search

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.

Expand to new tab or fullscreen



How to get in?
The Lough Swilly Marina at Fahan
Image: Mark Stronge


Fahan is a small village with a population of about 500 located on the east bank of Lough Swilly about 13 miles from the entrance to Lough Swilly. The village is fronted by The Lough Swilly Marina, which
provides pontoon berthing for approximately 200 boats of various sizes and, as of 2018, it is being expanded to cater for double this capacity.

The Lough Swilly Marina warmly welcomes all visitors with berths that can support depths of up 2.5 metres MLWS. The marina is approached via the Fahan Channel that has a bar with only 1-metre MLWS across its entrance making it advisable to time an approach for high water ± 2 hours.

Contact the marina for questions regarding the channel or berth availability on VHF Channel 6, T: +353 74 9360008, M: +353 86-1082111, or E: info@loughswillymarina.com. It is also possible to anchor outside the marina in 5 metres or further up in Fahan Creek in 2.5 metres.


Lough Swilly Marina
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00



Convergance Point Approaches to the Lough Swilly can be found in northwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Erris Head to Malin Head Route location. A set of waypoints to assist with the run up the lough as far as Fanad Marina can be found in the Lough Swilly route Route location. The entire length of Lough Swilly is marked with various easily identified lit navigation marks along the main deepwater shipping channel. It only gets challenging in the Fahan Channel.


Inch Spit Buoy
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays
Initial fix location From the initial fix follow the navigation marks through the lough to the 'Inch Spit', Fl.R3s, port channel buoy situated 1¼ miles southwest of the pierhead at Buncrana. Vessels cutting in from Buncrana should be careful to avoid Carrickacullin Rocks that lie about 750 metres due east of the 'Inch Spit' buoy. These rocks dry to 3.2 metres but cover at high water. A leading line to avoid is Carrickacullin by keeping the factory chimney at Buncrana on 030° T or a few degrees higher as best seen on Admiralty Chart 2697.

The primary hazard is Fahan Bar that is located approximately ½ a mile south of the 'Inch Spit' buoy. It is the northern tip of the Inch Flats that are roughly triangular in shape with their baseline on Inch Island and top point running northwards to its peak at Fahan Bar. Vessels should not be tempted to cut across the Inch Flats unless a sufficient height of the tide has been calculated to safely proceed. Appearances of deep water here can be deceptive as parts of the Inch Flats dry at low water springs.

The Fahan Channel lies between the Inch Flats and the northeast corner of Inch Island on the west side, and the mainland of the Inishowen Peninsula on the east. It runs roughly north/south close to the eastern Inishowen shore and is a relatively deep watercourse approximately 50-100 metres wide.

Its first marker is a floating red buoy (appearing pink) just under a mile southward of 'Inch Spit' buoy. To locate it keep the 'Inch Spit' buoy directly astern and steer a course of 185° T to pick it up and keep it close to port. Fahan Bar, which is the shallowest and narrowest section of Fahan Channel, will be encountered 900 metres south of 'Inch Spit' buoy.

From here proceed along the Fahan Channel following the port-hand buoys to the marina ideally staying as close to the marks as possible. This is all about the marks and the waypoints in the Lough Swilly route Route location are for guidance only and to provide some assistance in the event that marker buoys are missing. Closely monitor the depths all the time as there are drying patches on both sides of the channel.

The Marina entrance is located on the southwest corner of the Marina enclosure. When the marina opens to port, another red floating buoy should be visible on the east side and positioned directly opposite the entrance. When the depth increases to 4 metres or more, turn to port towards this buoy and ensure the depth stays at 4 metres or greater approaching the marina entrance.

Depths inside the entrance are uncertain and any vessel entering inside the breakwaters should do so at very slow speed with a sharp eye on the depth sounder. Parts of the marina are not fully dredged so follow the Red / Green markings on the black columns for the deepest water before lining up towards the marina, all the time watching the depth as the fairways are subject to silting. Once at the pontoons, there is plenty of water for most medium-sized yachts.

The Fahan Channel continues deep for 600 metres beyond the entrance. After that, it becomes little more than a narrow creek between drying sandbanks and mudflats above the entrance to the marina.


Lough Swilly Marina pontoon layout
Image: Glengollan FIB


Haven location Berth as directed by the marina office.

Vessels wishing to anchor in the Fahan Channel should pass on well clear of the entrance and anchor off in about 5 metres or according to conditions. A trip line is advised here as the seabed has many old moorings. Tidal streams in the channel are moderately strong so expect to be tide rode here at various points of the tide.

Those intending on to Fahan Creek must pass east of a drying sandbar which separates the creek from the southeastern end of the channel. There are moorings at the southeastern end of the channel, on the sandbar, and at the northern end of the creek. Vessels should anchor in the upper part of the creek southeast of the moorings in a depth of 1.5 metres in soft mud. The creek provides a well sheltered anchorage but can be uncomfortable in northwest winds.


Why visit here?
Fahan name, pronounced fawn, is derived from the Irish word Fathain meaning little green/field. The quiet and tranquil village is situated nestling along the western shore of Lough Swilly in the shelter of the rugged mountains of the Inishowen Peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty and designated as a Special Area of Conservation.

Fahan was chosen as an early monastic site and started as an important early Christian settlement. The village's most prominent building today is the pretty St. Mura’s Church that dates from 1820. It takes its name from a local saint, Mura, a relative of St. Columb and the patron saint of the Ui’ Neills, the High Kings of Ireland between 500 and 1100 who ruled from the nearby Grainan of Aileach.

St. Mura’s Church Fahan
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


Today, however, the church is more famous for being connected to a very dark event in the Lough’s history being home to an impressive memorial to the seamen who lost their lives with the sinking of the HMS Laurentic. All shipwrecks have a story behind them and the story of the SS Laurentic is somewhat unique.

On 23 January 1917 HMS Laurentic departed Liverpool en route to Halifax. She carried some 479 passengers, mostly naval officers, ratings, and Naval Volunteer Reserves, as well as a secret cargo of forty-three tons of gold bullion for the purchase of war munitions from Canada and the United States. Rounding the northeast coast of Ireland, four young ratings reported sick to the ship’s doctor, who promptly advised that they should be dropped off at the nearest naval port because they had symptoms of yellow fever which he feared could spread throughout the ship.

Laurentic launch from Harland and Wolff's yard in Belfast in 1909
Image: Public Domain


So on January 25th, the ship was forced to make an unscheduled stop at the nearest naval base which was at Buncrana. The small fishing harbour of Buncrana was at the time a naval base known militarily as ‘HMS Hecla’. All British Naval Atlantic operations had been moved there after defences at Scapa Flow were breached by a German U-boat, which had caused devastation and havoc to the fleet anchored there. Soon after arrival the orders from HQ were issued to proceed with the mission and less than 10 hours later the Laurentic was on her way again.

The Laurentic during her war service
Image: Public Domain
The weather was bitterly cold and a blizzard affected visibility so that the ship could not make contact with a destroyer escort she was due to pick up near Fanad Head. Despite reports that a German U-boat been spotted in the area, the captain gave the orders to proceed out to sea. Just forty-five minutes after leaving Buncrana, the ship struck two of six mines laid by the German mine-laying submarine U80. They caused massive explosions that ripped into the side of the ship with one of them exploding near the engine-room. This left the ship without power and caused it to list 20°. The power cut made it impossible to issue a distress call and the ensuing blackout and the list made it difficult to lower the lifeboats. Likewise, the pumps which were electrically powered were inoperable so the ship sank within an hour.

Agnes Jones detail from a window in Liverpool Anglican cathedral
Image: Granpic via CC BY-SA 2.0
Those who made it onto lifeboats faced extreme cold as low as −13° C. Survivors rowed towards Fanad Lighthouse and some were rescued by local fishing trawlers totally exhausted and near death. In the morning, many others were found frozen to death in their lifeboats, with their hands still gripping the oars. Of the 475 passengers on board at the time of sinking only 121 survived, and 354 were lost in the disaster. A mass grave in St. Mura’s Churchyard is the final resting place for 71 bodies and others are buried in the many graveyards around Lough Swilly and beyond.

The graveyard is also the final resting place of Agnes Jones who is buried here next to her father. Agnes Jones, although born in Cambridge, spent her early life at Fahan House when her family moved to Ireland for her father’s work in the military. She was a nurse who moved to England to become a Florence Nightingale trainee in 1860 and eventually qualified four years later. She became the first trained Nursing Superintendent of the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary and her contribution to the welfare of the sick was enormous. Having given all her time and energy to the patients, the work eventually took its toll upon her and she died in 1869 of typhus fever at the young age of 35. Florence Nightingale said of her “she overworked as others underworked and I looked upon her as one of the most valuable lives in England”.

Today Fahan is a very quiet village. Being only eight miles northwest of the city of Londonderry (Derry) the village attracts many visitors, several of whom have boats at the Marina. From a sailing point of view, the modern Marina warmly welcomes cruising yachtsmen and provides moorings reserved for visitors at a reasonable charge. It is the ideal place to wait out a bad weather window and recharge the batteries. It also offers an ideal base to visit the city of Londonderry (Derry) and the Inishowen Peninsula. Lough Swilly Yacht Club, also based in the village with their headquarters close to the slip, provide visitors with a warm welcome.

Sunset at the Lough Swilly Marina
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


For the very adventurous the final resting place of HMS Laurentic in 40 metres of water at the entrance to Lough Swilly is well known. Out of the 3211 gold bars, 25 gold bars are still unaccounted for. Today they would have with an estimated value of £10 million.


What facilities are available?
The Marina has fresh water and electricity available on the pontoons, and basic showers and toilets at the end of the gangway. Lough Swilly Yacht Club is situated on the east shore about 5 minute's walk away. They are only open for a limited period after club races.

The village has a store for limited provisions, a post office, and a choice of restaurants and bars. A garage and convenience store is 2 km away where petrol and diesel is available for topping up by cans; larger quantities are available by arrangement with a tanker in the marina. Buncrana town 6 km away has supermarkets, banks, restaurants, pubs, hardware stores, and a launderette,

A daily local bus service connects with Letterkenny and Londonderry, and the City of Derry airport is conveniently located approx. 15 miles from Fanad on the A2 road towards Coleraine.


With thanks to:
Graham Wilkinson Charlie Kavanagh Yachtmaster Instructor.


Expand to new tab or fullscreen
Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




The Lough Swilly Marina at Fahan, Donegal, Ireland
Image: eOceanic thanks Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


The Lough Swilly Marina
Image: eOceanic thanks Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


Views ashore from the Lough Swilly Marina
Image: eOceanic thanks Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


The hill overlooking the marina
Image: eOceanic thanks Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00




Overview of the marina and creek




Marina overview




The Story of the Laurentic



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


Add your review or comment:


Charlie Kavanagh wrote this review on Jul 19th 2017:

Fahan Marina is a privately owned series of pontoons, partially finished, with limited facilities - a single toilet and shower. The entrance channel to take you towards the marina should be approached close to the Red channel buoy SW of Buncrana, only in daylight and close to High Water (2h +/-). Once located, find a floating red(pink) buoy a few hundred metres to S and approach keeping it to port. From here in, closely monitor the depths, as there are drying patches on both sides. As the marina opens to port, another red floating buoy should be visible - when the depth increases to 4m, turn to port towards this and ensure the depth stays at 4m or greater as you approach the marina entrance. Depths inside the entrance are very dodgy and any vessel entering inside the breakwaters should do so at very slow speed with a sharp eye on the depthsounder. Leave the Green marked post to starboard and proceed slowly to the Red painted post before lining up towards the marina, all the time watching the depth. Once at the pontoons, there is plenty of water for most medium sized yachts.

Average Rating: ***


Charlie Kavanagh wrote this review on Jul 19th 2017:

There is an hourly bus service to Buncrana (10 mins) where multiple shopping options are available. Aldi, LIDL and Supervalu supermarkets, Roe Doherty for gas, Mc Laughlin Auto Factors, Coyles hardware and many more options. It is Donegals second biggest town. At Fahan marina, there is a cosy bar and retuarant, The Railway Tavern, a relic of the old Londonderry rail line. Walks and beaches are close by and Inch Island bird sanctuary is not far on foot.

Average Rating: Unrated


Michael Harpur wrote this review on May 21st 2018:

Thank you for commenting.
Firstly, my apology. We have to date only been only able to place reference notes for the northwest corner of Ireland. We do intend to fully write up the northwest coast, but we recognise that this will take a concerted effort to do correctly and we have not been able to apportion the time for that campaign yet.
When we do, comments like yours will be invaluable and, in the meantime, for those cruising the coast in advance of that write up. So please keep commenting they are enormously helpful. Thank you for your patience.

Average Rating: Unrated

Please log in to leave a review of this haven.



Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.