Motorised Craft


Sea and fresh water motor craft have a long history of commercial use where goods, activities and or passengers are carried for profit.

In more recent times there has been a rapid and widespread expansion of motor craft demanded by use for recreation and pleasure. Comprised of many diverse specifications by way of  size - length, width and draft; range from a bare open deck boat to those with highly specified above and below deck features.

These commonly include cuddys, cabins, with the ever more luxurious fitted with lounges, bunks [sleeping quarters], toilets [ heads], kitchen [galley] In their extreme they become the "super-yachts" of the rich which are not yachts but the height of motorised luxury afloat.

All of these motor craft have a means of propulsion. This is either outboard - with engine[s] attached to the stern or transom, or inboard with engine[s] fitted internally. The larger craft can often carry masts and sails and the combination may give them the class as motor-sailing boat.

There are many definitions or classes of motor craft; for example these include  large and small commercial and or sport fishing boats, touring boats, speed boats, deck boats, house boats, pontoon boats, cabin cruisers, ribs and more.

A recent phenomenon in the world of motor craft are the personalised water craft [PWC]   These are more popularly known as jet skis which uses an inboard water jet pump as its power source.

The majority of motor craft in the area are for private and mostly recreational use. Whatever the purpose all these craft have to be launched onto the water. Typically the smaller say under 12 feet length craft, are portable and can be easily launched and retrieved. Otherwise larger craft need to be moored or tied up into a safe and secure position in order to be left on the water for any length of time.

AREA of ACTIVITY. Where to Go

Access to the sea is limited mostlly to those main locations which provide the benefit of slipways to launch and retrieve, or cranage-lifting facilities for the heavier craft. The locations mostly associate with harbours and Sailing Clubs and a few isolated open public sipways          These are listed under the section on Opportunities and Access. 

Our area offers very extensive open sea-ways for motor boating. There are always the common challenges which goes with any craft on the water with regard to tide, current and weather etc. There are other more local considerations which can require relevant information, more demanding navigational skills.

For example one of the most demanding areas for boating would include the "Narrows" in Strangford Lough. Here very strong tidal currents occur and when wind is contra to tide rough waves and seas prevail. Any open water and particularly out in the Irish Sea will experience exposed conditions and big seas . The entrances to both Carlingford and Strangford Lough are complicated by the physical nature of the sea bed, here conditions frequently combine to make for heavy, chaotic seas, standing waves etc . 

Throughout the entire area shallows, rocks, reefs or pladdies present any craft at sea with the challenge of safe passage and negotiation of obstacles. Navigation charts reveal where all these situations occur     

See Opportunities and Access for lists of main activity areas


In our area  some few thousands of fixed moorings  exist which facilitate the mooring or tieing up of craft to secure positions. These are usually associated with harbours and seaide towns and villages. There are principal harbours which do offer combinations of "drying-out", tieing up to harbour walls, pontoons and marinas." 

The best facilities are undoubtedly linked to the infrastructure of harbour towns and villages and Sailing Clubs of which are numerous.


The three Loughs of Carlingford, Strangford and Belfast to varying degree offer the most scope for the motor craft which is not seeking extensive deep water passage. Here a mixture of open water, near shore routes and island hopping can give great enjoyment. All are scenically very attractive.

Good Practice & Safety

Clubs, Opportunities, Disability Access

Care for our Coast

Research & Studies

Stay up to date with the Strangford Lough and Lecale

Sign up to ensure that you don't miss out on any Strangford Lough and Lecale news and events!