Buckroe Beach is best sailed in any winds from the North, clockwise to the Southwest. Offshore winds produce nice conditions with flat water on the outside, although the wind line will be pretty far out. During summer doldrums, if temperatures are in the upper 80s or low 90s and a high pressure system is off the coast, a sea breeze can kick in around 3 p.m. to turn a Northeast to Southeast 10-knot forecast into a great 5.5 afternoon. In the thermal winds, you can sail parallel to the shore all the way From Grandview to Fort Monroe.
Northeast to Southeast winds can produce big chop due to the large fetch, and the shorebreak, known to eat equipment, can be treacherous. A breakwater was installed at the south end which greatly reduces the shore break. The current can be moderate and runs parallel to the shore, so watch for diminishing winds if you sail a sinker. Those not familiar with rough seas should sail Buckroe with due caution in higher, onshore winds but in lighter winds it is appropriate for all levels.
Sideshore winds can easily be sailed by the novice, however the water depth is overhead from about 30 yards out. The bottom is clean so there is not a lot of need for booties, however the jetties and the nearby pier are covered with barnacles that can mess up your day. The closest iWindsurf sensor (Thimble Shoal) is located 1.2 miles from shore (between Grandview and Buckroe) which is about 1.7 miles from the launch.
Windsurfers are restricted to a narrow launch shared with jetskis at the North end of the beach at Pilot Avenue during the beach open season (Memorial Day to Labor Day). On bad beach days (i.e., rain, lots of wind!) and in the off season, the entire public beach is open to windsurfing. Other than the jetskis, there is little trouble with boating traffic as there is plenty of space and the shipping channel is about three miles to the Southeast. North end parking is scarce so you must find it on First Street, although the police usually tolerate offloading and then rigging at the grassy rigging area. Fortunately parking tickets are only $5. There is plenty of parking off season at the South end, especially in the lot south of the pier.
Occasionally, weeds are a problem so it's a good idea to bring along a weed fin. Jellyfish can be bad in the summer, although their threat changes from good to bad and back again on a daily basis. The water temperature ranges from a low of about 35 degrees in February to just above 80 in August.
Good points: Nearby shop (Beach Sports); public restrooms and phones available at the south end; large grassy rigging areas, jettys reduce some of the shore break; concessions in the summer.
Bad points: Shore break can be nasty at times, current and weeds can be frustrating in marginal winds.
Notes: Launching restricted to the north end of Buckroe Beach. Check for parking regulations and the proper place to launch during the summer. Rollerblade or sailskate while waiting for wind; concrete boardwalk and seawall run the entire 1/2 mile length.
Directions: Great stop-off site when road-tripping to Hatteras. Only minutes off I-64 at the last exit (268 Mallory Street) before you enter the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel from the north. Turn left at the stop light onto Mallory Road. Follow Mallory for about 3 miles. You will drive down a long straight section of road and finally pass a 7-11 at a light. Go 1 more block to Pembroke Avenue. The beach will be on your right. Turn right and follow the curve (now 1st Street) to the parking lot on the right. Beach Sports is in the second block to the left.
Local shop: Beach Sports Call 757-851-3224.