Author Topic: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)  (Read 3725 times)

Night Wing

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Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« on: February 23, 2017, 05:11:54 AM »
Let me start off by saying I've envied those people who have downwind sups and can surf them offshore during high wind and wave conditions which produce nice long swells. The prevailing winds off of Galveston, Texas is from the south/southeast at a wind speed of between 5-10 mph in the morning and increases to 10-15 mph later in the day with gusts up to 17-18 mph. Not ideal wind conditions for a downwind sup. If you've seen some of the links I've posted where I sup surf, you can see our waves are basically mushy type waves and the best waves we can get are head high at Surfside, Texas.

But in another topic thread someone asked me if I had ever sup surfed tanker waves. I haven't. But sup surfing tanker waves sounded appealing to me especially if I could get a long ride. So I did some research yesterday and I found out I'm probably sitting on a gold mine when it comes to surfing tanker waves. I think if anyone wants to sup surf a tanker wave, the Galveston Ship Channel might be one of the best places in the coastal US to do this.

It looks like three things are needed to sup surf a tanker wave in the Galveston Ship Channel. They are:

1) Glassy water conditions
2) Outbound tanker traffic
3) Inbound tanker traffic

I found a few YouTube videos showing lots of tanker surfing by prone longboard surfers. One guy posts a lot of videos so I watched some of his videos and there a few videos where he tanker surfs a wave for a distance of "2 miles" in Galveston Bay. The only drawback for a prone surfer, one needs a boat to get back to where one started. However, for a sup surfer who wants to surf a tanker wave, a boat would not be needed if one can find outbound and inbound tanker traffic and the best place for that is in the Galveston Ship Channel. And in my area the link below is a site which would give me the outbound and inbound tanker traffic.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-94.8/centery:29.3/zoom:11

The videos are below. BTW, in the first 11 minute video with the prone surfer, the audio sound starts at the 30 second mark of the video. And there are lots of broadside action shots of him from the boat traveling alongside of him. The video is speeded up because I think there was a time limit on YouTube so it is a little compressed, but the prone surfer rides this long wave for a very long time which is why I chose this video so you can see the tanker wave on glass like water conditions.



The second video is the same prone surfer and he rides the same wave for 20 minutes. No broadside action shots though.



The next two videos are of some sup surfers riding some tanker waves.





As for me, in order to sup surf a tanker wave, I will need a longer board and I'm hoping 10'6" sup will do the job.





SUP Sports Hammer: 8'11" x 31" x 4" @ 140 Liters

surfinJ

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2017, 06:39:23 AM »
I'm as well a downwind dreamer.  Where I live is an inside corner for the high winds. Total opposite of what's needed.

As far as a goldmine, that's what those waves look like.  No crowds, light winds and long glides.  Rental of some appropriate boards should be doable. Let's go.

Ok, I'm not around the corner but like stoneax, this has been a desire of mine.

Night Wing

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2017, 07:14:10 AM »
@surfinJ

In the very first video, it's better to jump ahead to the 3 minute mark of the video where can see a broadside shot of the prone surfer and then you can actually see his l-o-n-g ride.

BTW, I called the Coast Guard Station down at Galveston earlier this morning to inquire about sup surfing tanker waves. The CG said it was all right as long as one gives those tankers a "wide berth" space wise. The CG said about a one-quarter mile berth away from the tanker for safety's sake.

In my case, I would have to have a schedule of some tankers with their outbound and inbound times. Sup surf a wave on an outbound tanker and then to get back somewhere close to my starting point, surf an inbound tanker's wave.

Sup surfing a tanker wave near Galveston is the equivalent of "a poor man's downwind" since we don't have downwind wave and wind conditions. Once a wave is caught, there shouldn't very much paddling necessary if any.
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blueplanetsurf

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 07:38:26 AM »
Looks perfect for foiling!
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surfercook

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 07:41:39 AM »
"Texas Tanker Surfing" has been in my bucket for quite sometime now. Sounds like you did your homework and are ready to "Roll-ax" on a few
 l-o-n-g gliders. Let me know if you want some company! I'd be stoked on a trip out of the ordinary. Don't know if the wife would be down w/a trip to Texas, but wth, can' hurt to ask. I might actually drive my Honda Element down there w/my 9'11" PSH racked up. It's gotta be plenty big for a tanker wave.
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808sup

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 08:07:53 AM »
Looks perfect for foiling!
Exactly what I was thinking!
Maybe Kai can show us how to ride outbound waves and then hop his way onto an inbound set.
Question for night wing, how far from the shoreline are these shipping lanes? Do you need a boat to get to them or can you paddle from shore? I look forward to your progress there.

digger71

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 08:17:07 AM »
Looks like a tanker surfing OG has started a business down there
http://tankersurfcharters.com/

Some of those waves look pretty fun and he makes a claim of up to 5 miles!

seadart

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2017, 09:16:56 AM »
Rob Casey who posts here from time to time does a lot of surfing on freighter waves in Puget Sound and has a business that takes people oout.  He has articles and youtube videos I believe on how to get started, and can give you good advice.  I've surfed freighter and tug waves and the biggest issue is just local knowledge about where the waves form best to take off and which wave of the set you should take.  Lots of times you can surf three or four waves from a single bow wave train. Also your legs can really cramp up if you have to stay in surf stance, but usually you can move around quite a bit on the small waves to keep surfing.  It's usually pretty low key if you don't have a chase boat to get you back to the take off if you are going to do long long rides.

TallDude

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 11:20:20 AM »
CapoBeachBoy has been there, done that. Hopefully he'll chime in with his experience. He did tell me that the waves are a lot faster than you'd think.
It may be overhead to you, but it's waist high to me.

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ninja tuna

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 02:39:38 PM »
I saw this first thing this morning and instantly thought about the foils for these waves.

I looked in to doing the surf thing there but the charters seemed ridiculously expensive.  To me it seems like a great road trip. You just need that schedule for the ships,  a few guys, a boat, and a marine chart on a gps to give you the depths, tides, and contours to guess where the waves will probably break. Might take a little hit and miss in the beginning but i am sure you could figure it out real quick.  Especially if you study the charts real good before you go.

p06781

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 07:54:24 PM »
Plenty of people have done it here in oregon behind the sternwheeler cruises on the columbia river .  Looks pretty easy to get into although i have never gone . 



Night Wing

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2017, 08:03:47 PM »
Question for night wing, how far from the shoreline are these shipping lanes? Do you need a boat to get to them or can you paddle from shore? I look forward to your progress there.

Since I'm familiar with the Galveston Ship Channel, the ship channel is quite a few miles wide. At it's narrowest point, between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, it is 1.5 miles wide. You can read more about it at the link below and once on the page, there is a map which you can click on to enlarge the map to give you a better view to see what I'm talking about.

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcg02

On the Bolivar Peninsula, at the ferry landing, there is old abandoned Fort Travis. One would have to take the "free" ferry ride over, from Galveston to the Bolivar Peninsula and once on the Peninsula, travel to 17th street and turn right. This street will take you down to the beach where the North Jetty is located. Turn left on the beach to Fort Travis, park your vehicle and then paddle the 1.5 miles back to the Galveston Island, wait for an outbound tanker and surf it's wave.

Then if you have the tanker info for inbound tanker traffic, catch a tanker's wave inbound and sup surf back to Fort Travis. This way a boat is not needed. Bottom line, it's doable.
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SCruzSUPr

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2017, 06:17:38 PM »
Nightwing
Let's do this... I'm spending more and more time in Houston.   8)
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Night Wing

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2017, 07:05:11 PM »
 SCruzSUPr

There is also a "Plan B". But it will have one drawback. You'll only get one wave to ride.

Plan B is based on not crossing the Galveston Ship Channel to catch an outbound tanker's wave to ride. With that in mind, a person would still have to take the free ferry ride over to the Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry schedules are in the link below.

http://www.galveston.com/galvestonferry/

After departing the Bolivar Ferry, travel about 2 miles (or less) to 16th Street and turn right. At the end of 16tth Street, you can drive right on the beach and park your vehicle next to the North Jetty. BTW, the base of the North Jetty is at the end of 17th Street.

Then take your board and paddle parallel to the North Jetty all the way to the end of the North Jetty. I think the North Jetty is 5 miles long. At the end of the North Jetty, find an incoming tanker and surf the tanker's wave back to where your vehicle is parked.

With Plan B, one gets the exercise of a long paddle and then experiences the rush of a very long wave ride....if one doesn't accidentally fall off their board while riding that long wave.  ;)
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capobeachboy

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Re: Sup Surfing Tanker Waves In the Galveston Ship Channel (Texas)
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2017, 09:56:40 PM »
I chartered Captain James' boat back in 2012 with my  friend Ken Brah and we had a gas. He normally does a party of  four but he let us do two and we were on the water 6 hours. I had one 20 minute wave and my legs were jello after and I was doing a lot of racing & distance back then too. The Captain was stoked we had ULIs as regular SUPs can beat up his boat. That's Ken in the vid and me in the still. It's pretty cool the way he runs it cause if you wipe out he picks you up and drops you on the wave again. Note his boat got swamped a few years ago and he was seriously injured. You have to know the waters and have your boat running good to outrun waves when they hit the shoals.

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