Surf Seattle on Freighter Waves

Learn How to Surf Seattle!

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

Learn how to SUP surf, improve your current skills and find out how to catch fun local waves in Seattle. Classe are available as private so you get the most personalized instruction and for surf zone safety.

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 80 miles from the ocean.  Once you learn where and when to catch waves, you’ll find regular surf in Seattle.

Freighter Wave Season to surf Seattle with best tides is Spring – Early Fall on Wednesday and Fridays.  We can work with other days as well.  

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

Don’t need a class? Get my Puget Sound Surfing Guide to find out where and when to catch epic waves on Puget Sound and surf Seattle. The guide will save you tons of time in in looking for inland waves.

Core Skills You’ll Gain:

  • 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
  • We’ll show you how to catch more waves from fun 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.
  • Everyone gets a Salmon Bay Paddle sticker!
  • Get access to my online Puget Sound Surfing Guide 

How it Works:

  •  Best Days are some Wednesday and Friday midday for the best Scheduled Boats.
  • Weekends work but I’ll get in touch early to confirm if there’s a boat coming.


  • Private classes only for 1-2 people
  • Duration: 3 Hours. Class Size: 1 – 2 People
  • Skill Level: *Intermediate*. You should have SUP experience and be comfortable standing on small waves and chop and know how to paddle straight, remount. Take our SUP Basics 1 and 2 to prep.
  • Must speak English and have basic swimming skills.
  • Location: Ballard Elks Beach, Shilshole Bay, Seattle.
  • Instructor to Student Ratio: 1-2


Season: March to end of September for daytime low tides

2 Private Person Rate: 349 per person

Individual Rate (1-1): 497


  • We recommend wetsuits and booties even in Summer as the Sound doesn’t really warm up.  Our suits are toasty warm, flexible and comfortable
  • 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. Try our gear first!
  • Your inflatable is fine but rigid boards don’t flex as much on waves
  • Rates are non-negotiable / Gratuities are always welcome. 


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 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

Rob Casey was very knowledgeable about the sport and the surrounding environment. Not only learned basic paddleboarding techniques, but also cool turns, what to do when there are waves, and great safety tips. I’ve taken SUP “lessons” before, but none were as detailed or effective as Rob’s. A definite must-do if you like to see a city on a SUP. Also, the Shilshole Bay was beautiful – saw lots of marine life like starfish, crabs, etc. Would definitely take another lesson or tour with Salmon Bay Paddle next time I’m in Seattle.
- Adelie, NY