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Old 02-14-2010   #1
feats of strength's Avatar
Detroit, Michigan
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 78
Freighter-wake surfing

Hey all....I will be in Detroit for memorial weekend and will likely be having a hard time finding any whitewater.. Has anyone got beta on surfing freighter wakes? With all the traffic in the Detroit river..some idiot has had to have tried it already...I would like to do the river for verticle challenge...butt that maybe more trouble than it's worth..BTW, is it spring yet!


"With a wonder and a wild desire..." -Flogging Molly
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Old 02-14-2010   #2
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 377
I have done the wake surf behind wakeboard boats, so I would think the larger freighter wake would be good. Obviously you will need a tow in, so I hope that proximity does not piss off the freighter captain. Post a trip report here after you do it, with some pics!

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Old 02-15-2010   #3
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 134
Not 1st hand experience

Although I have never done what you speak of, I know of a few folks in the Columbia River Gorge that have done some surfing behind barges. All of the folks that I know of have used very long boats for the task. At the time they were riding 5m surf boats for ocean swell surfing. They were able to catch the waves on their own power and surfed the 2nd or third wake with pretty good success.

I would think that a modern ww boat would limit you to the first wake which would but you pretty close to the barge and require you to have a tow in. I would think it would be a bit scary as well as possibly illegal to be that close to a big boat. I can just see the Coast Guard arresting you for trying to commit a terrorist act in you kayak!

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Old 02-15-2010   #4
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
lack of speed will be your enemy.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 02-15-2010   #5
bobbuilds's Avatar
x, x
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wow marc, you have issues.
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Old 02-15-2010   #6
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 377
For some reason I was thinking surfboard surfing. I would second boatdziner's info and use a long boat
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Old 02-15-2010   #7
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 481
The problem with using a long boat is that once you're on the wave, there's nothing you can do. Seems like you might as well surf a couch or something.

What about using a surf shoe like the Element? (Ocean surfers, sorry if I used the wrong lingo) You might not need a tow in if you just paddled right up next to the hull of the barge as it was passing. The real trick would be getting the photographer close enough to get a good shot.
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Old 02-15-2010   #8
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 377
I guess the real factors would be the wave profile and the speed of the ship. It would be the same as longboard vs shortboard. A steep wave would be good with a play boat but it might be hard to catch without a tow.
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Old 02-16-2010   #9
Vail, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1066
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 165
Sounds like cuddling a Polar bear to me. I'd give those big ships plenty of room.
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Old 02-16-2010   #10
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Edge o' the Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 195
Did this on the Mississippi back in the '80s in my Dancer. Very brief thrills, and a couple of very PO'd captains were the result. But don't let me rain on your adventure...your results may vary.

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