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Portsalon

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Overview





Ballymastocker Bay, with its small hamlet of Portsalon, is a scenic bay on the Fanad Peninsula located about five miles within and on the western shore of Lough Swilly, in the north of Ireland. The bay provides an anchorage, some moorings, and the opportunity of landing by dinghy at a pier or on its extensive sandy beach.

Protected by rugged cliffs the bay affords good shelter from winds from a westerly quarter, but is somewhat exposed to easterly winds and swell across the Lough. Access to the bay is straightforward in all reasonable weather and tide conditions.



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Keyfacts for Portsalon
Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location

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
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
October 18th 2018

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location



Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 12.357' N, 007° 37.122' W

this is the position at the anchorage in the north part of the bay

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 Portsalon for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Crummie's Bay - 1.5 miles E
  2. Scraggy Bay - 1.6 miles SE
  3. Dunree Bay - 1.7 miles ESE
  4. Lenan Bay - 2.4 miles ENE
  5. Pincher Bay - 2.5 miles N
  6. Macamish Bay - 3.2 miles SE
  7. Mulroy Bay - 4.1 miles W
  8. Buncrana - 4.4 miles SE
  9. Rathmullan - 4.6 miles SSE
  10. Sheep Haven - 4.8 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Crummie's Bay - 1.5 miles E
  2. Scraggy Bay - 1.6 miles SE
  3. Dunree Bay - 1.7 miles ESE
  4. Lenan Bay - 2.4 miles ENE
  5. Pincher Bay - 2.5 miles N
  6. Macamish Bay - 3.2 miles SE
  7. Mulroy Bay - 4.1 miles W
  8. Buncrana - 4.4 miles SE
  9. Rathmullan - 4.6 miles SSE
  10. Sheep Haven - 4.8 miles W
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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How to get in?
Portsalon Pier overlooking the bay from the north
Image: Kevin Flanagan


Ballymastocker Bay is an east-facing bay located about five miles within and on the western shore of Lough Swilly. The gradually shelving bay is open, free of dangers and entered between Portsalon and Saldanha Head, a distance of about 2 miles. The preferred anchorage is situated in the northern part of the bay, just south of the pier at Portsalon which is sheltered by the rugged cliffs on the mainland to the west.

Boats off Portsalon in Ballymastocker Bay
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays



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 can be found in the Lough Swilly route Route location. The entire length of Lough Swilly is marked with various easily identified navigation lights along the main deepwater shipping channel and the bay is clear of outlying dangers.


Portsalon at the head of Ballymastocker Bay
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays


Haven location Anchor according to draft or conditions in excellent sand holding. The usual location is close south of the pier in 2 to 5 metres. Land on the beach or at the pier that has 0.5 metres at its head. It may be possible to come alongside temporarily.

The view south from Portsalon
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays



Why visit here?
Ballymastocker Bay, sometimes also known as Portsalon Beach, is a beautiful crescent-shaped east facing bay encompassed by green fields that give some sheltered protection from the prevailing winds to the beach below.


Heather-covered mountains plunging into blue seas at Ballymastocker Bay
Image: Tourism Ireland


The bay was once voted the second most beautiful in the world by readers of the Observer Magazine, only pipped to the post by a beach in venerable Seychelles, and is rated as one of the Top 10 in the World by the Lonely Planet. When you see it you’ll understand why. Heather-covered mountains plunge into the translucent blue seas with a broad golden beach between, that extends for miles from the foot of Knockalla Hill all the way to Portsalon. This is a truly spectacular Blue Flag beach with fabulous views towards the Inishowen Peninsula opposite. Unlike many other outstanding beaches, apart from a couple of other families on a sunny day, you are most likely to have it all to yourself.


Ballymastocker Beach with the Inishowen Peninsula in the backdrop
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays


The small coastal hamlet of Portsalon, at its northern end, derives its name from the Irish Port an Salainn meaning 'port of the salt'. There is no actual village of Portsalon, but the main area of cottages are clustered around its small stone pier where a grocery shop and bar, combined in one little building, and a cafe are located. The ship's bell of the bullion-laden HMS Laurentic, sunk in 1917 by a minelaying submarine, was salvaged and now serves the congregation of Portsalon's small church.


Portsalon
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays


There are other shops and bars a short distance to the south of this area which cater mainly for the recently built holiday cottages that enjoy views of Ballymastocker Bay. Portsalon Golf Club lies nearby attracting many visitors to this quiet and tranquil corner of west Donegal and it can be considered a must for any golf enthusiast aboard.

From a cruising point of view, this is a lovely anchorage with all the necessities and a useful pier to land on at Portsalon. It is particularly perfect for boats with a young family aboard.


What facilities are available?
With the exception of the pier, the grocery store cum bar, and the cafe, there are no facilities at Ballymastocker Bay. The large town of Letterkenny, 20 miles south, has a wide range of shops and other facilities.


With thanks to:
Graham Wilkinson. Photography with thanks to Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays.


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




Portsalon, Ballymastocker Bay, Lough Swilly, Donegal
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism Ireland


Portsalon at the head of Ballymastocker Bay
Image: eOceanic thanks Donegal Cottage Holidays


Portsalon Pier overlooking the bay from the north
Image: eOceanic thanks Donegal Cottage Holidays


Portsalon's stone pier
Image: eOceanic thanks Donegal Cottage Holidays


The head of Portsalon's stone pier
Image: eOceanic thanks Donegal Cottage Holidays


Boat alongside Portsalon pier
Image: eOceanic thanks Donegal Cottage Holidays




Ballymastocker and Portsalon aerial views




Ballymastocker slideshow



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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.