Surfing in Seattle?

In my 5 Ways to Surf Shilshole Bay post, I mentioned wind waves. Wind waves create both downwindable conditions but also in the case of the photo here, they like ocean waves will eventually end up at a beach. If the beach has a gentle slope, then waves will build and possible extend some distance giving us a surf opportunity.

Right in front of the Ballard Elks lodge where we teach (below), a SW or strong (30kt) northerly will push waves into the beach. At lower tides waves will build. Boat wakes will also throw waves inside creating nice waves. I once surfed a chest high set, but short lived as it was a drop-in and bail out of there type sort of wave.

Like our freighter waves, waves break like these all over Puget Sound. Just a matter of finding beaches with a gentle slope, then paying attention during storms, boat wakes and varying tide levels to see what happens. You can find good beach break waves on lakes as well. A friend once rode a chest high wave from a boat on Lake Washington. Search for beaches using aerial photo sites like the DNR Shoreline page and Google Earth. Geography to look for may include points of land with lots of sand on one or both sides or crescent shaped beaches which empty out to a flat beach at low tide.

Cleaned up wind waves at the Ballard Elks

Read more about waves on Puget Sound and tools for finding them..
- Armored Shorelines - Essentially bulkheads, create a reverb wave form called clapotis.
- DNR Aerial Photos - View WA shoreline photos from the 1970's to present day.
- Google Earth - Same as above but view from 360 degrees and make measurements, etc.
- Learn to Surf Freighter Waves on Puget Sound (class) - come with a freighter wave manual.

Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites - www.wwta.org

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