Surf Seattle on Freighter Waves

Surf Seattle on freighter waves generated by fast moving ships. Waves can get waist to chest high with rides up to a minute and sessions lasting up to 45 minutes.

Season Finished for 2020 – Starts again March 2021.  Get my Puget Sound Surfing Manual to find other types of waves to surf on Puget Sound all year.

Beginner surfers will learn Sup surfing basics in a safe and friendly environment. Experienced surfers will learn new skills, how to surf downwind boards and closer to Seattle.

We discovered these waves in 2002 and have since been honing our ship spotting skills and figuring out the best tides and locations to catch these waves.

This is a rare opportunity to surf good waves more than 100 miles from the ocean.  Once you learn where and when to catch waves, you’ll find regular surf in Seattle.

Don’t need a class? Get my Puget Sound Surfing Guide to find out where and when to catch epic waves on Puget Sound.

Kayaks, outrigger canoes and surf skis are welcome to take this class.

**All my rental gear is cleaned after each use. Proper social distancing will occur on land and water.

Read More about Freighter Surfing in Stand Up Journal, SUP Magazine and Stand Up Paddle Surf, The Inertia and Evening Magazine.

Freighter Wave Season to surf Seattle with best tides is Spring – Early Fall

Core Skills You’ll Gain
(Classes will be customized to your needs)

  • Receive my Puget Sound Surfing Guide to learn where and when to catch waves on the Sound.
  • Learn how to catch waves, turn, stop, fall safely, get back on and paddle out.
  • Catch more waves with smarter wave selection, timing and placement
  • Get bomber stability skills in the surf zone which will benefit all types of paddling
  • Find out how to surf your race and downwinding board for longer rides from further out
  • Save energy by learning easy turning techniques before, during and after your ride
  • Avoid collisions and stress with others in the surf zone using Surfer’s Etiquette
  • Catch more waves learning to surf small boat wakes in between freighters
  • How to choose the best equipment and clothing for NW surfing
  • Stay safe by learning how to fall in shallow water and stand up on your board between waves
  • Refine your forward stroke so you can paddle out faster with less effort

Contact me to book a class.

Covid-19 Update:  SBP is now open to individual and small groups (4p max). Private Classes Only for Phase 2. We’ll maintain a 6′ distance on shore and on-water, recommended mask use on shore. All gear is always cleaned. 

Skill Prerequisites: Advanced Beginner

You should be comfortable paddling over boat wakes and in wind waves while standing. You should be in good physical shape as surfing can be exhausting. You know know how to fall and get back on your board. Take my SUP Basics 2 if you’re not comfortable or unsure with the above requirements.

Already a SUP Surfer? These waves will keep you in shape when you can’t get to the coast. We’ve been stumped at the coast and sometimes have had better success in Seattle! Stable displacement race or downwinding boards welcome. No super narrow race boards – you’ll spend more time in the water.

Are you a Prone / Traditional Surfer? We require that prone / regular surfers take our SUP Basics 1 and/or 2 classes to learn basic SUP turns and the forward stroke. Just being a prone surfer doesn’t mean you’ll pick up SUP paddling and surfing during this class.


I can’t guarantee waves. Freighter waves can be fickle. On no wave days I’ll teach you the strokes we commonly use in surfing or bombproof your current skills. These core strokes will increase your wave count both here and on the coast. I’ll cover self-rescue, water safety and rescues for rough water conditions and where to find and how to forecast tug and freighter waves. I offer one free followup class for students who don’t catch a wave during their first class.

I took a freighter surfing course with Rob and it was amazing! Rob puts safety first every stroke, every pivot turn all the way and opens a whole new world of SUPin for every paddler in the Puget Sound Area.

Margrit Ralph

Rob is fantastic! Had a great time learning to freighter surf and as a bonus feel way more comfortable maneuvering my board.

Anna Larson Newton

I took a freighter wave class with Rob and a few friends. He is very helpful in critiquing and advising improvements on balance, stances, paddling, etc. The guy knows a lot in the world of paddle boarding, and much more. We caught some solid waves from the freighter to wrap our day up!

For anyone interested in refining your paddle boarding more, this would be a great class to participate in. And for surfers craving waves midweek, check it out!

Andrew Coyne

Lesson Details:

Covid Notice – SBP is open for classes. A maximum of 4 allowed in each class. Distancing will be followed on land and water. Recommended use of masks on shore. Equipment is regularly cleaned. 

2020 Dates:

Season Finished. Opens again in March 2021

Duration: 3 Hours. Class Size: 1 – 4 People

Skill Level: *Intermediate. You should have SUP experience and be comfortable standing on small waves and chop and know how to paddle straight.

Location: Ballard Elks Beach, Shilshole Bay, Seattle.

Instructor to Student Ratio: 1-4

* FREE Follow-up Class for students who don’t catch a wave during their first class.

Not interested in a class? Get my Freighter Wave Surfing Manual which shows you how, where and when to surf waves in Puget Sound.


Group Class (3-4 Students): 149 per person with rentals / 133 per person with your gear.

2 Person Rate: 179 per person with rentals / 149 per person with your gear

Individual Rate (1-1): 299 with rentals / 273 with your own gear. *1-1 Classes Bonus – You also get my $77 value online Puget Sound Surfing Guide as part of your class cost! This will save you tons time of trying to figure out where to be and when. 

* Rentals Include: Stable board, paddle, PFD (life vest), leash, toasty wetsuit, booties, gloves.

Alumni/Repeat Classes: $10 off per person.

Rates are non-negotiable

Bringing your own gear?  Stable surf style boards and displacement boards to 17 feet hard or inflatable. Leashes and PFDs required (Shilshole Bay is considered a flat water inland waterway by the CG). Wetsuits required Fall – Spring.

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