Kayaking Freighter Surfing Class

Covid Notice – SBP is open for classes. We follow current guidance.  Instructors are vaccinated. 

Learn to surf epic waves on Puget Sound in Seattle in this Kayaking Freighter Surfing class! Catch freighter waves generated by fast moving ships. Waves can get 3′-6′ high with rides up to a minute and sessions lasting up to 45 minutes.

Beginner surfers will learn kayak surfing basics in a safe and friendly environment. Experienced surfers will learn new skills and how to 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.

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

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 Wednesday and Friday Boat Dates: (11:30 – 2pm)

Best Group Class Dates: April 29 / May 4, 6, 18, 20, 27 / June 1, 3, 15, 17, 29 / July 1, 13, 15, 27, 29 / Aug 10, 12, 24, 26, 31 / Sept 9, 23, 28

What’s the Difference Between Freighter and Tug Waves?

Freighter waves originate from fast moving ships in the shipping lane. As the ships pass, their waves head to shore where we’re waiting. Season is Spring to early Fall due to daytime low tides.

Tug waves are large boat wakes vs a beach break. Waves occur in deep water half a mile offshore. Only available Wednesdays and some Fridays all year.  Click Here to Read About Tug Wave Surfing. >>

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

  • Learn how to catch waves, paddle out, turn, stop, capsize and recover in waves.
  • Catch more waves easier with smarter wave selection, timing and placement
  • Learn bomber stability skills in the surf zone which will benefit all types of paddling.
  • Save energy by learning easy turning techniques before, during and after your ride
  • Learn boat handling skills so you’ll be in total control on waves
  • Avoid collisions and stress with others in the surf zone using Surfer’s Etiquette
  • Catch more waves learning to surf small boat wakes and tugs in between freighters
  • How to choose the best equipment and clothing for NW surfing
  • Refine your forward stroke so you can paddle out faster with less effort
  • Available for sea kayak, surf kayak and sit on tops



Season is Spring to late Summer. Contact me to discuss dates.

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

Skill Level: Intermediate or advanced. Must have 100% self rescue skills.  You should be comfortable paddling in small waves and chop.

Location: Ballard Elks Beach, Shilshole Bay, Seattle.

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

Not interested in a class? Puget Sound Surfing Guide which shows you how, where and when to surf waves in Puget Sound.


Private or Public Group Classes (3-4 Students): 189 per person

2 Person Rate: 239 per person

Individual Rate (1-1): 399

We recommend wetsuits or dry suits and booties even in Summer as the Sound doesn’t really warm up.  Our suits are toasty warm, flexible and comfortable. 

+ Add Rental Gear:

  • Stable sea kayak or sit on top surf kayak, paddle, spray skirt, PFD (life vest) –  ($20 per person)
  • Full 4/3mm or 5/4mm wetsuit, booties, hood, gloves – ($15 per person)
  • OK to Bring your own gear (kayaks with bulkheads) 

Rates are non-negotiable

Contact Us!


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, all the way and opens a whole new 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 maneuverin.

Anna Larson Newton

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This