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 if unvaccinated. 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.
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.
**All my rental gear is cleaned after each use. Proper social distancing will occur on land and water.
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)
- 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
After Class Extras
- Instructor Follow-up After Class – We’ll send you a summary of skills you learned in your lesson as well as our favorite marine weather and tides apps.
- You’ll receive access to our 24 video SUP 101 Online Course to review skills learned and class and many more techniques! Get paddle trip check-lists and planning tips.
- You’ll able to join our Facebook Alumni Group to continue learning and for connecting with other paddlers.
- SBP owner Rob Casey is always available to help you find paddling gear, find places to paddle and help you get to your next level.
- Get a 20% discount from Mountaineers Books for any title. Or get Rob’s books: ‘Kayaking Puget Sound‘ and ‘Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers.
- Receive a Salmon Bay Paddle sticker!
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.
Best Days – Wednesday and Friday Scheduled Boat Dates: (11:30 – 2pm)
Group Class Dates: Sept 17, 22 / Oct 6, 20 ((End of Season for tides))
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. Our SUP Basics 1 class will prepare you surfing.
Must speak English and have basic swimming skills.
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.
Private Group Classes (3-4 Students): 189 per person
2 Person Rate: 239 per person
Individual Rate (1-1): 399
We recommend wetsuits and booties even in Summer as the Sound doesn’t really warm up. Our suits are toasty warm, flexible and comfortable.
+ ADD RENTAL GEAR: $15 stable board, paddle, deck bag, leash and PFD (life vest). $15 – 4/3mm wetsuit, hood, booties & gloves.
OK TO USE YOUR OWN GEAR. It’s best to learn on your own gear if you have it. But please don’t buy gear just for our class.
Gratuities are always welcome!
Rates are non-negotiable
Bringing your own gear? Stable surf style boards, surf sups and displacement boards to 17 feet hard or inflatables. Leashes and PFDs required (Shilshole Bay is considered a flat water inland waterway by the CG). Wetsuits required Fall – Spring.
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.
Rob is fantastic! Had a great time learning to freighter surf and as a bonus feel way more comfortable maneuvering my board.
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!