Look beyond the typical South coast boating bases and there are plenty of welcoming harbours that offer some delightful experiences
Penetrating the east bulge of Northern Ireland, Strangford Lough covers 60 square miles – making it Britain’s largest tidal inlet.
Its countless islands and rocky outcrops create a fabulous cruising area with pretty County Down villages around the rural shores.
There are no marinas inside the lough, but several friendly yacht clubs have moorings in sheltered inlets.
Many members have quite large motor boats so contact the clubs to ask if they can accommodate you for a while.
Quoile YC is in the south-west corner of the lough in the Quoile River. Ringhaddy Cruising Club is on the west shore behind Pawle Island and Islandmore, near a Swallows and Amazons paradise of winding channels, shallow inlets and secret bays.
Getting there: I’d choose the Stena Line Liverpool to Belfast crossing, daytime or overnight. Portaferry or Quoile are 34 miles from Belfast. Many UK flights serve Belfast City airport, which is 24 miles from Quoile and 28 miles from Portaferry.