Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Booking Freighter Wave Classes - A Tough One..

Bummer that I have been advertisting my freighter wave classes since April and with no response all summer, I finally get 2 separate groups of guys wanting to do it - literally during the last week possible week of 2013 to catch the waves.  Both called this week - wacky!

Freighter waves in Seattle break on medium low tides (1.5' to 4'). The trick is to match that tidal window with a fast moving large container ship in a favorable direction. Wind must be 15kts or less.  Interestingly the best waves are during the day on weekdays.

So a guy calls up, "Can we do it on tuesday evening?"  Nope. Tide is 9' high and even if it was low no gurantees if a boat is coming in.  We do know the schedules of a few boats but most are random.

But I do offer to take folks out to show them where they break, how to track marine traffic, where to look for indicator waves, etc.  Unlike the waves that most try to hide, these are so fickle, that in 10 years of talking about them, still only a handful of dedicated surfers regularly hit them.  When it's good, it's chest high sets up to an hour - Seattle.  It's crazy, but it happens a lot in the summer.

With tides high for the rest of fall and early winter, we switch our focus to wind waves and deep water boat wakes from tugs.  Or haul ourselves 3+hrs out to the coast for the real thing.

Erick Gelbke surfing the wave from the North Star on Shilshole Bay in Seattle, Sept 2013.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sweet Deck Bag for SUPs/Kayaks

For the past two years I've been using the Parabolic Deck Bag from Seattle Sports Company. The bag is slim on my SUP deck yet has enough room to carry all the essentials I need for day trips and/or instruction.

The folks at Seattle Sports took my suggestion of adding a 5th attachment point on the front end of the bag to prevent water from rushing up the board and lifting the bag.  Many bags lack this feature and incoming waves will stop you cold or rather, make you face plant when paddling out over waves, etc.
The new attachment point will be in the 2014 line.  Product Link, Here.

The green things in the pic below are attachment plugs to connect the bag to your board or kayak.

Check it out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Barriers to Learning SUP

Every week when SUP comes up in a conversation, I hear a list of all the reasons why folks haven't tried it yet. Here's a few..

- I don't have good balance.  My answer - most do have good enough balance but it's not about your balance but rather making sure every person is matched with a board that's appropiate for their hight and weight. It's not uncommon for folks to see someone else struggling on their board. Their response is always the same, "I don't have good balance, that's not for me."  In my business, I've only had one student who couldn't stand up immediately. He's 6-7 x 290lbs and I simply don't have a board big enough for his size.

- I'm not in good enough shape to do SUP.  See my post on 8/14/13.

A few others:
- I don't like to get wet.
- I'm afraid of sharks.
- Water based phobias (don't like deep/shallow water, bad childhood experience, etc).
- Ego or Self esteem while being seen in public struggling to stand or looking overweight in a wetsuit.
- Water Temp: An issue for us in the NW, "I only surf in Hawaii" "It looks cold."

When rental shops provide poor or no instruction and/or don't match each customer with the best board for their size they may not stand up, will feel unstable and mostly likely will fall in. Some shops put beginners out in wind, into busy boating channels with no instruction on right of way, and don't assist in carrying gear to the shore - boards are heavy!  As a result, many won't try it again.  If others see those paddlers struggling their intuitions about poor balance etc will be re-enforced.

Freighter Wave Surfing in Seattle this week

Thanks to a freighter going 23kts, the right tide level and our favorite site,, we're getting sweet waves to ride in Seattle more than 3 hours from the Pacific.  Best season is early Spring to Fall. Tug waves are all year as they occur in deep water where tide levels aren't an issue.

Give me a holler if in town, always glad to take folks out.


Thanks to Kavu, Werner Paddles, GoPro, Urban Surf and Amundson SUPs.