Surf Seattle on Freighter Waves

Covid-19 Update:  SBP is open to individual and small groups.  We’ll maintain a 6′ distance on shore and on-water, required mask use on shore. All gear is always cleaned. 

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 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


2021 Dates & How it Works: The below dates are on days where we have scheduled boats. If you can’t make it on Wed or Friday midday during these times, I’ll let you know in the AM on a low tide day such as a weekend if there’s an unscheduled boat coming in.

Scheduled Boat Dates: (11:30 – 2pm)

May 12, 14, 26, 28 / June 9, 11, 23, 25 / July 7, 9, 14, 21, 23 / Aug 6, 11, 20, 25 / Sept 8, 11, 22 / Oct 6, 20

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 Puget Sound Surfing Guide which shows you how, where and when to surf waves in Puget Sound.


Group Class (3-4 Students): 159 per person

2 Person Rate: 179 per person

Individual Rate (1-1): 299

ADD RENTAL GEAR: $15 stable board, paddle, deck bag, leash and PFD (life vest). $15 – 4/3mm wetsuit, hood, booties & gloves.

SBP Alumni: $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.

Sign Me Up!

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

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