Boathouse Restoration

Boathouse Restoration, Beach Road.

The project has been funded primarily by:
1) Generating Rural Opportunities Within (GROW) – South Antrim

Link :-> Grow’s Report

2) Carrickfergus Borough Council


with additional funding raised  through:
3) Northern Ireland Environmental Agency – Historic Buildings Unit (NIEA-HBU)

Link : — > Photos of project

Link: — > Re-opening

Link to East Coast Canoe Trail :

Please note that the Official re-opening of the Boathouse at Beach Road will take place on Tuesday 3rd May 2011 at 10.00am.

Those in attendance will include representatives from funding bodies such as GROW South Antrim, Carrickfergus Borough Council and the Northern Ireland Environment agency.
This day also marks the start of an epic voyage by Elaine Alexander from the Share Centre in Fermanagh who will begin her attempt to become the first woman from Northern Ireland to circumnavigate Ireland by Sea Kayak.
This is a journey of approx. 1,000 miles and she will begin her trip from the club after the official opening.
It would be great to give her some support if anyone is available to attend on the day.
For more information on Elaine’s trip go to

Update : The Boathouse has been officially handed over to CAYC. This took place on Friday 18 March. Some minor actions still to be finished. More photogragphs have now been uploaded.


The Boathouse which is owned outright by County Antrim Yacht Club was originally built c.1870. This is a detached single-storey single-cell originally constructed to house the Lifeboat in conjunction with the coastguard cottages. The building is not in a good state, but original features are still partially intact such as ornate timber bargeboards and stone detailing. The Boathouse is a fine remnant of the maritime history of the area.

The Coastguard Station on Beach Road first appears on the third edition OS map of 1902. Accommodation was provided for a chief boatman and five coastguards. The Boathouse was an integral part of the Coastguard Station.

Our aim is to refurbish the building to its former state. In addition, the Club has been asked to help develop the ‘East Coast Canoe Trail’ from Cushendall to Portaferry and use the Boathouse to store kayaks/canoes for visitors making the trip along the coast. Whitehead is the logical start/finish point for kayakers visiting the scenic ‘Gobbins Cliffs’ area of South Antrim.

In their heyday the ‘Gobbins Cliff’ paths were an attraction which rivaled the Giant’s Causeway. We have been informed that Larne Borough Council has an ambitious plan to reinstate the path and the tendering process for this is nearing completion. The council hopes it will attract 70,000 paying visitors on guided tours and become an internationally recognised attraction.

The Yacht Club has just been completely refurbished and extended with financial support from Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Carrickfergus Borough Council. In addition, there has been significant monies (in excess of £100,000) raised by the Membership through levies and many other fundraising events. The Clubhouse was 100 years old in 2009 and was re-opened by the Club Patron, HRH The Duke of York. The Clubhouse facilities will be open for visitors to use in the knowledge that their equipment will be stored securely.

As part of our application to Sport Northern Ireland for grant assistance with the Clubhouse project a full ‘Government Green Book’ business case (available on request) was prepared by FGS McClure Watters recommending that within the Whitehead Conservation Area the best option was to refurbish and extend the current Clubhouse. This ‘Government Green Book’ business case clearly maps out the financial viability and sustainability of the project. The Club has a Committee that has had experienced people in key posts for a number of years now. This has provided consistency in carefully controlling the financial affairs of the Club.

The ‘Green Book’ business case also acknowledges the long term sustainability of the project and the need to ensure that running costs and maintenance can be met. These are clearly detailed in the business case and were one of the prime reasons for SNI supporting the application. The business case demonstrates that a net positive cash flow will be generated by Year 4 through income sourced from increased Members and Membership Fees along with use of the clubroom bar and facilities as a result of increased usage.

Aim of the project

The aim is to develop the Boathouse to not only store canoes and kayaks, but also utilise the building as well for storage of the Club’s safety boats and sail training dinghies. Encouraging new Members to participate in “on the water” activities and make use of the new Clubhouse is one of the prime objectives for SNI, NITB and the Yacht Club.

CAYC wishes to further develop recreational facilities and amenities for children and young people at the Club by providing a modern storage facility at the Beach Road site. Over recent years the Club has invested heavily in new equipment (5 new Optimist dinghies, 2 RS Visions, 1 RS Feva , 1 GP14, 2 Laser Picos, 3 Toppers and a 4 Rescue/Safety Boat) to help run training courses in sailing, kayaking and powerboating. This equipment is currently stored at the Beach Road site and risks being damaged or having a shorter lifespan due to the poor condition of this building.

The Countryside Access & Activities Network (CAAN) for Northern Ireland are currently in the process of establishing the ‘East Coast Canoe Trail’, an important part of which will be the Gobbins area of Islandmagee. The development of a canoe trail will attract visitors and locals to the region to explore the natural, contemporary and historic environment by canoe.

The ‘Canoe Trails’ product has a very strong brand and is extensively marketed and promoted by CAAN and partner organisations such as the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland (CANI) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board through brochures and websites, e.g.  The product currently comprises 5 canoe trails; this will be enhanced by the addition of another 4 trails, the ‘East Coast Canoe Trail’ being one of them.  The ‘East Coast Canoe Trail’ will benefit from the same tourism marketing and exposure to people looking for a canoe holiday destination.

County Antrim Yacht Club