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Dun Laoghaire to Port Oriel (Clogher Head)

We enjoy a beautiful sail up the coast of Ireland from Dun Laoghaire to Port Oriel where we anchor for the night and nearly get hit by a fishing boat! 😱

Summer 2023 weather is ****!

A small window to head north finally presented itself, albeit a very small window indeed. The summer of 2023 had not been great weather wise; persistent low pressures and summer storms had made cruising in short hops quite difficult, and the winds seemed to be rather erratic; switching around in all directions with no real signs of the prevailing south-westerlies that we should have been enjoying! We had hoped to slowly hop up the coast, visiting Howth, Malahide, Ireland’s Eye, Lambay and Skerries but instead we ended up extending our stay in Dun Laoghaire by an extra week to ride out Storm Antoni. Upside of this was getting the chance to meet up with fellow cruisers Salty Lass who had also found themselves weather bound in Dun Laoghaire. If you’ve not checked out their YouTube channel yet we strongly recommend a binge watch of their vids! And thank you ladies for the food and copious amounts of wine…..a great night!

We gave up on the idea of hopping up the coast but needed to get out of Dun Laoghaire – as much as we liked it here the cost was racking up! With Strangford Lough our next destination, but not fancying a 16/17 hour sail directly up there, we eyed up potential anchoring spots for the night and settled on Port Oriel, a fishing port on the east coast of Ireland north of Clogher Head. The harbour itself is very much a fishing port, and whilst they will accept visitors, you must be prepared to raft against fishing boats or the pier wall. However the bay itself looked like it provided good holding in sand with plenty of room for anchoring.

Our best sail of the season!

Departing Dun Laoghaire just after 6.00am we headed out into Dublin Bay and raised the main. Winds were light and as we needed to cross the main channel we continued under engine. Calling up Dublin VTS on channel 12 we were given permission to cross between buoys 3 and 4 before we could make our turn to head out around the Ben of Howth.

Baily Lighthouse, Howth Head

Once we had reached our waypoint at the northern end of the Ben of Howth (53°23.113N 6°1.974W) the wind had filled in from the west, and with a full head sail and reefed main (we still like to be super cautious!) we were cruising along very nicely indeed. We even caught up with Salty Lass who had departed earlier!

Catching the Salty Lass Ladies!

This was definitely our best sail of the season so far – just the right amount of wind, with the boat nicely balanced and very little heel, just one of those perfect sailing days!

Just after 1.00pm, and 34 nautical miles after departing, we arrived at Port Oriel. As this is a fishing harbour we were mindful to stay out of the obvious approach to the port, dropping the hook at position 53°48.221N 6°13.692W. The wind dropped off to around 5 knots from the west, the sun came out and we enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon and evening onboard.

Port Oriel

A fishing boat nearly hits us!

By 1.00am the wind had shifted ever so slightly to the north, albeit very light, and as such there was a little swell coming into the bay; not overly uncomfortable but enough to wake us. As we drifted in and out of sleep we suddenly heard a boat which was getting increasingly louder. Looking out of our bedroom window on our starboard side we saw the port and starboard lights of a fishing vessel bearing down on us at speed. He must have literally been only 50 metres or so away when he suddenly backed off the power and forcefully turned to his port.

We believe he didn’t see us, or perhaps he was so comfortable with doing this route daily that he didn’t even look out for the possibility of anchored vessels. The route he approached the harbour was far closer in than all the other fishing vessels that were approaching much further over to the east. We had our anchor light at the masthead on as well as all our cockpit lights, which we often light when in dark, busy and/or remote places. In fact we couldn’t have really lit our boat up much more! (…..well downlighters on the spreaders would be quite nice🤣)

Suffice to say that after that we didn’t get much more sleep! We were only planning on staying the one night anyway at Port Oriel as another blow was due in the next couple of days so we needed to push on. It’s a shame that this incident happened as the anchorage itself was actually quite good – sand holding and no other boats! However there isn’t much here so it’s pretty much an overnight stop .

As daybreak arrived we prepared for our next leg up to Strangford. If you do plan on anchoring at Port Oriel then please ensure you light your boat up like a Christmas tree… do not want to be taken out by a fishing vessel!


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