Portaferry Lifeboat Station
RNLI Lifeboat House, The Strand, Portaferry, Co Down, Northern Ireland


Portaferry Lifeboat Station was established by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution at Portaferry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland in 1980.

The station is one of the 238 RNLI lifeboat stations located on the coastline and inland waters of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland that are funded entirely through voluntary donations and legacies.

Portaferry Lifeboat, 'Blue Peter V', is an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat.

The Atlantic 85 is one of the fastest lifeboats in the RNLI's fleet and is capable of speeds up to 35 knots (approx. 40mph). It carries a crew of four.

Portaferry Lifeboat Station is located at Portaferry, Co. Down, opposite the Portaferry/Strangford Ferry slipway from where the station's Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, 'Blue Peter V', is launched using a tractor and carriage.

As a 'Blue Peter' lifeboat station we especially welcome visits by (adult supervised) children.  For information on how to visit us please click here




Portaferry Lifeboat Station

Aerial view Portaferry Lifeboat Station


Blue Peter V and the Strangford Ferry

'Blue Peter V' returns after an exercise

 Portaferry Lifeboat's official service area covers all of the waters of Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea waters up to five nautical miles offshore between Burr Point, Ballyhalbert, Co. Down to St. Johns Point, Co. Down.  Sometimes this area is extended when working with flanking lifeboat stations

Navigational hazards in the area include off-shore reefs, half-tide rocks and numerous pladdies and islands within Strangford Lough. In addition, tidal flows in the Strangford narrows can reach 8 knots on spring tides, causing dangerous overfalls at the entrance to Strangford Lough (The Strangford Bar) especially in windy conditions (East through South) during ebb tides.

On occasions, additional assistance is necessary from flanking all-weather lifeboat stations at Donaghadee RNLI, to the North and Newcastle RNLI, to the South.

Donaghadee and Newcastle stations have long histories of life saving work. (click on station to go to their web-site)

Newcastle Lifeboat Station celebrated their 175th anniversary in the year 2000 and Donaghadee their 100th in 2010.

Donaghadee Lifeboat Station has an all-weather 'Trent' class lifeboat and Newcastle an all-weather 'Mersey' class lifeboat and a 'D class' inshore lifeboat.

There is a high level of commercial shipping activity in the station's Irish Sea service area that also includes two of the three main fishing ports in Northern Ireland, Ardglass and Portavogie.

Flight paths of aircraft to and from three local airports and those in two high level intercontinental air corridors which intersect the area mean that there are approximately 300 aircraft movements over some part of the service area during an average day.


The 'Blue Peter V' Service Area




2nd Blue Peter V exercising with Newcastle Lifeboat

Our 2nd 'Blue Peter V' exercising with Newcastle Lifeboat


Commercial fishing for clams and king prawns and the farming of oysters and mussels takes place within the confines of Strangford Lough. This is supplemented by the presence in Portaferry of the Marine Biology Department of The Queen's University, Belfast, alongside one of the world's renowned aquariums, 'Exploris'.

Due to it's sheltered waters, Strangford Lough is used by hundreds of pleasure craft each year and boasts no less than 11 yacht clubs.

There is also a marina at Portaferry and a visitors pontoon in Strangford that welcome visitors.  For more information about both facilities please go to our 'Links' page or click here

Whiterock Bay, Strangford Lough

Aerial view of Whiterock Bay, including Sketrick
and Rainey Islands, Strangford Lough

Strangford Lough and the surrounding area is popular with local and foreign tourists for its beauty, history, wildlife and many other visitor attractions.

A passenger/car ferry service operates daily at 30 minute intervals (8am to 10pm) between the villages of Portaferry and Strangford conveying about 500,000 passengers per annum.

The 'Strangford Ferry' leaves Strangford for Portaferry 'on the hour and on the half hour' and from Portaferry for Strangford at '15 minutes and 45 minutes past the hour'. The crossing takes approximately 10 minutes. Visit our 'Links' page for further information.

Diving is an increasingly popular pastime and many Sub-aqua clubs use the area (including the Irish Sea service area) throughout the year.

Strangford Ferry

The Strangford Ferry arriving at Portaferry

Other pursuits enjoyed in the area are angling, wildfowling and birdwatching.

Strangford Lough is the largest sea inlet in the British Isles.

It is Northern Ireland's first Marine Nature Reserve and is renowned as an Area of 'Outstanding Natural Beauty' and 'Special Scientific Interest', with six 'National Nature Reserves' within its reaches.

Over 2000 species of marine animals have been found in the 'Lough' and internationally important flocks of wildfowl and wading birds converge there in Winter.

Strangford Lough is also one of the most important sites in Ireland for the breeding of common seals.

Sunset on Strangford: Blue Peter V returns to base

Our 1st 'Blue Peter V' at 'The end of the day'

Portaferry Lifeboat is a busy station and since its opening in 1980 has responded to many hundreds of incidents. Fortunately, most of our lifeboat services have resulted in returning those involved to safety ashore.


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