Luce Bay

The tides run strongly along the coast toward the Solway Firth on the flood and away from during the ebb. There is a race off the Mull of Galloway which creates rough seas in wind against tide situations, particularly from the south west. The effect of the race may extend up to 6 miles to seaward. In strong wind against tide conditions give the Mull a wide berth.


The area described on this page is covered by the following Admiralty charts:

1826 Irish Sea Eastern Part 1:200,000
2094 Kirkcudbright to Mull of Galloway and Isle of Man 1:100,000

The area described on this page is covered by the following Imray Charts:

C62 Irish Sea (covers the entire costs described in the Cruising Notes)  

It is worth checking Notice to mariners on the Admiralty web site as there have been a number of recent notice to mariners advising of:

Follow this link to check whether your chart edition needs to be updated

This large bay is a 'target practice area' and as such navigation is restricted to passing close to the coast between yellow special marks (buoys) and the shore (i.e. you cannot simply sail across the bay, nor enter the bay except at it's edges). Crossing the head of the  bay at night is not advised due to unlit structures.

With the exception of Drummore and Port William - for boats able to take the ground, all the other anchorages are suitable in offshore winds only. Should the wind shift unexpectedly - the nearest alternative anchorage may be a sail away in difficult conditions. For example, if anchored in Auchenmalg Bay in a NE'ly and the wind veers SE when the tide has just started running west you may have to divert to Port Logan, Port Patrick, Bangor or Port Erin. If the tide happens to be east going you are faced with a sail down to a Cumbrian port or Douglas.

If you approach Luce Bay from it's east side, the hinterland is formed of land which rises no more than 143m. The foreshore is stony. Heading up NW up the edge of the bay within inside of the yellow special marks DZ6 to DZ1 the land behind less level and more a series of small undulating hills, some terminating in brown earth cliffs at the foot of which runs a coastal road from Monreith up to Auchenmalg Bay. The foreshore is mainly stony all the way along. All the anchorages on the east side of the bay look like they will provide shelter in an offshore wind but of the wind shifts even slightly to the south of east - the sea will start to build and penetrate all the anchorages.

Located with Luce bay are an isolated group of rocks collectively known as the scares. Depending upon the sunlight, these remarkable rocks may appear to take the form of a grey warship or the white superstructure (courtesy of sea bird guano) of a cargo ship crossing the mouth of the bay. Binoculars will reveal their true identify !

Luce Bay contains a number of harbours and anchorages which are briefly described below.

East Tarbert Bay


A useful passage anchorage for vessels awaiting a fair tide round the Mull of Galloway. Provides good shelter from south through to WNW. There is a beach and slip at the head of the bay. From where, it is possible to walk to the lighthouse on the Mull. cattle often wandering on the beach. No facilities.

Once you are familiar with the bay, it is possible to enter and leave at night - though there are no lights in the vicinity so its a case of feeling your way in and dropping anchor in adequate depth of water.


Drummore Harbour

A drying harbour. Fin keelers can anchor in the bay outside. Bilge keelers may find room to raft up on the west side of the eastern quay (amongst fishing boats). Local yachts berth inside the north quay but the bottom is uneven and viability needs to be checked before drying out in it's vicinity. Village short walk from the harbour.

Drummore Bay

Just north of Stair Haven two twin stone beacons. Passed north of the observation platforms. In the NW corner of the bay another set of twin stone bacons.

New England Bay

Not yet investigated.

Chapel Rossan Bay

Not yet investigated.

Sand Head Bay

The bay is shoal and the yacht will be anchored some way off. Sandy bottom.


Anchorage off small harbour and ruined pier.

No facilities - nearby hamlet.

Auchenmalg Bay

The view above was taken from SE of the bay in the vicinity of the special mark DZ2.

Anchorage about 3.5 cables from the shore. Depth 6.0 to 7m. Gold holding in sand. Use in N/NE winds only. Ashore, conspicuous static caravans interspersed with one or two houses. There is a stretch of sand amidst the locally rocky foreshore on which to land by dingy.

Port William

Port William is a drying harbour on the east side of the bay. A good empty outer wall (exposed to west) alongside which two or three boats may dry out alongside it's north facing quay, this quay continues - turning it's face SE ward, alongside which a number of small local (open) fishing boats usually occupy all available space.

Fin keel boats can anchor outside in good holding, about 3.5 cables out in 7m. When  approaching take care to avoid the pot buoy markers laid in the bay just outside the harbour.

Village adjacent to harbour. Two pubs (in local hotels) and one or two shops.

Monreith Bay

An anchorage in N to E winds.

Interest: Standing Stones believed to be in the vicinity.

Back Bay

Not yet investigated.