Jonty Pearce finds complete shelter in this historic and tranquil Irish anchorage close to Cork Harbour
Drake’s Pool near Crosshaven is a stunning spot.
History records that in 1589 Sir Francis Drake’s small squadron of five warships was chased into Cork Harbour by an overpoweringly strong Spanish fleet.
Turning swiftly to port after rounding Rams Head he entered the River Owenboy and continued upriver past Crosshaven until he found a secluded anchorage in a pool set deep in cloaking woodland and hills.
This safe basin was called Drake’s Pool; the Spaniards sailed up into Cork Harbour but were perplexed not to trap their prey, returning to sea empty-handed.
Though still a picturesque refuge, the pool is not as deserted as in Drake’s day; as with most well-sheltered havens, moorings have multiplied to the point that visitors have to use all their wiles to find enough space to drop their anchor.
A useful ploy is to look for vacant moorings and occupy the space between them, trusting that their owners will not return to render your chosen spot untenable.
For this reason, I cannot recommend that you leave your boat unmanned when going ashore to explore.
Don’t let this put you off from visiting the anchorage though; the cruise up river is something to relish, especially the beauty and tranquility of this historic pool.
If you succeed in finding room to stop for the night, then this has to be viewed as an added bonus.
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The approach to Drake’s Pool is quite straightforward; anything Sir Francis Drake could do in his engineless warship squadron should be easily possible for modern auxiliary-powered yachts.
From seaward, leave Roche’s Point two cables to starboard to enter Cork outer harbour sound, obeying the navigational marks.
Leaving Rams Head a cable to port, identify the first of the River Owenboy buoys, starting with the port hand C2A and the starboard hand C1.
Keep midway between these and the following channel buoys; the bottom shoals outside the marked route.
Crosshaven Boatyard Marina occupies the south shore before the C3 starboard hand mark (which seems to be overly south); ensure you leave C3 to starboard to avoid the shallow area it protects.
Thereafter, the buoyage is straightforward past Salve Marina and the Royal Cork Yacht Club marina.
Drake’s Pool lies two-and-a-half miles upriver from the C2A buoy and one mile past the Royal Cork Yacht Club; continue between the moorings, erring to the outside north bank for the first bend, but remaining midstream for the second bend and the entrance to the pool.
With a muddy bottom, the river’s shallowest channel depth is two metres, while the pool reportedly offers four metres, though it shoals to the SW.
Drake’s Pool is sheltered by a protecting kink in the river; fortunately, given the strong currents, the holding is outstanding but it is wise to deploy a tripping line.
There are no facilities, though a rocky outcrop can be used as a makeshift slipway and, across the Carrigaline Road, there’s an open barbeque area.
This ancient river anchorage is a real treat for coastal yachtsmen, hidden in the serene wooded valley that saved the day for Sir Francis Drake some 430 years ago.
Relax and imbibe the historic atmosphere.