Mill Creek

Lat:3700'32" Long:7618'27"

Beginner to intermediate

Probably the most popular spot on the Peninsula is Mill Creek with a launch on Fort Monroe. Unfortunately, the jetski clan also knows about this launch. Although not a great spot, it is quite sheltered and shallow in many areas and is therefore popular with the beginners and intermediates, those who are a little rusty, those who like the social flavor of it, and those looking for a safer launch during nuclear winds.

Due to unstable national security issues, access to the fort and methods of obtaining access can be a little unpredictable. Generally they will let you on if you tell the guards at the gate that you are going windsurfing at Mill Creek. If you are obviously carrying windsurfing gear rather than Scud missles they usually pass you through with no problem.

Mill creek is best sailed on a North or Northeast wind. Other winds are possible because it is completely enclosed but those are the least gusty and shifty as this launch seems to turn everything coming at it into gusts. The bottom is quite muddy and booties are recommended as there is some debris to be found there. Watch out for a drainage pipe off to the West.

The creek (more like a small bay) is less than a mile across it's longest axis so your jibes (or however you do it) will be somewhat frequent. The launch site consists of two small beaches, divided by a pile of rocks and a concrete deck in the center of the picture above. A word of caution. On an outgoing tide, stay away from the two bridges. I got sucked under one of them twice in the same day once. The parking lot could be a little larger but at least it's close to the launch. There are a couple of port-a-potties in the parking lot. The grassy rigging area is excellent, with plenty of room for a picnic, kites, or frisbee throwing.

When the winds pick up to nuclear strength and the other open water launches get hazardous, Mill Creek can be one of the few safe place to sail. WET worked up an agreement with the base commander which allows us to sail there until the winds reach 35 knots sustained. However you are at their mercy and must leave if instructed to do so. Especially when hurricane winds are emminent they usually deny access well in advance as a way of easing later evacuation if needed. If your are looking for someone to sail with, hit Mill Creek on a Sunday and you will almost always find a few boardheads gathered there. It's the Canadian Hole of Tidewater.

Directions: To get here from I-64 West, take the first exit after coming off the Hampton Roads Bridge-tunnel (or the last one if you are travelling East) at (Exit 268). At the light, in either case, turn left and proceed past the Hardee's and the McDonald's to the next light. Turn right onto Mellen Street which will curve around and take you across a small bridge, to Fort Monroe. At the light, show a driver's license and vehicle registration to the guard if required as you pass and follow the road down to the big hotel which will bend to the left. Take another left at the end of the hotel and head back toward the gate, parallel to the road on which you entered but a block over. Just before exiting the fort, turn right onto Eustis Road. Keep your speed below 25MPH at all times. Proceed less than 1/2 mile to the fishing area and parking lot.

Good points: Shallow, protected water; almost always someone there if there is any wind; great rigging area; close parking and port-a-potties; fast food nearby; great chop-hop spot when the waters elsewhere get too dangerous.

Bad points: Winds are usually gusty and shifty; bridges and other obstructions can be hazardous on an outgoing tide; lots of mud, shells, and other foot hazards just off the shore; could get a speeding ticket.

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