Surf Ski Freighter Waves Class

Covid Notice – SBP is open for classes. A maximum of 6 allowed in each class. Distancing will be followed on land and water. Required use of masks on shore. Equipment is regularly cleaned. 

Learn to surf on Puget Sound in Seattle in this surf ski freighter wave 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 surf ski 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.

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

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

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)

  • Receive my Puget Sound Surfing Guide to learn where and when to catch waves on the Sound.
  • Learn how to catch waves, turn, stop, capsize, recover and paddle out over waves.
  • Catch more waves 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
  • 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


2021 Dates: Season starts March (dates TBA), ends in early October.

Duration: 3 Hours. Class Size: 1 – 4 People / Private Classes Only

Skill Level: Intermediate. You should be comfortable paddling in small waves and chop and know how to re-enter your ski on both sides

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.


Class Details:

Schedule:  Wednesday (2 boats) and Friday (1 boat) 1:30 – 4pm varying per boat arrival.

Duration: 3 Hours.

Class Size: 1 – 4 People

Location: Shilshole Bay, Seattle


1 Person Lesson (1-1): 273

2 Person Rate: 159 per person

Group Class (3-4 Students): 133 per person

+ Add Rental Gear:

  • Stable surf ski (Carbonology Cruze or Fenn Mako), paddle, leash, PFD (life vest) –  ($20 per person)
  • Full 4/3mm or 5/4mm wetsuit, booties, hood, gloves – ($15 per person)

SBP Alumni: $10 off per person.


  • If you didn’t get a wave your first class – come out again for free!

Sign Me Up!

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!


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

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