Holyhead harbour, being a harbour of refuge, may be entered in all weather conditions and at all states of the tide. The stream of ferries, both displacement & HSS plying between the harbour and Ireland (Dun Laoghaire), with skippers intent on maintaining their schedule, means that power does NOT give way to sail - especially in the Traffic Separation Zone which spans the harbour entrance !
When closing the harbour, make for the Breakwater Head (marked by a 21m high white tower with black band), allowing a half cable offing for the foundations (see illustration). Leave the Spit buoy to starboard and maintain this offing from the breakwater until the marina is closed.
Call 'Holyhead Marina' on Channel 37 for berthing instructions after passing the Spit buoy.
Although the entry to the harbour is free from dangers, and Holyhead Bay itself offers an essentially benign and safe sailing opportunity for anyone, the outer approaches can be difficult in heavy weather. From the south and west, South Stack has to be negotiated. Here tides of up to 5 knots each (at Springs) meet over uneven ground, creating overfalls and whirlpools which can be dangerous to smaller vessels. In strong breezes (F6+), the overfalls and races can extend for up to seven miles towards Holyhead Deep to the northwest. Approaches from the north are protected by The Skerries, an isolated group of rocks and islets, with 5 - 7 knots of tide and associated rips and overfalls. From the east, the approach is generally made between the Skerries and Carmel Head - a particularly vicious patch of troubled waters in strong wind over tide conditions. Under normal conditions, whilst due regard must be paid to the strength of the tide, sea conditions should not trouble any well-found vessel
Berthing in the Marina
Under normal conditions, proceed to the OUTSIDE of Breakwater 1, leaving the Marina to starboard, and secure to the outer side on the "Temporary Visitors' Berths" shown in the illustration. [Anchors are laid in the outer portion of the Fairway and the whole of the area should be considered to be foul ground.] Secure to the root of Breakwater 1 (outer side of Pier E) and report to the Marina Office for berthing details. In northeasterlies, a significant sea can be generated the fetch across Bay and these berths should not used. Instead, visitors should proceed to Pier F, entering marina confines leaving Breakwater 2 to port.