Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

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Gordon Gilzean
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Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

Hi everyone I have just recently experienced my first ever paddle on moving water at the falls of lora under Connel bridge with 2 instructors from my kayak club, it was an incredible day and had a lot of fun mainly on the south side current as it was more forgiving but I did give the north side a few attempts and did make it through a few times but I also had my share of swims while trying to figure it all out, I have a good roll on flat water and also in waves out at sea but I had a few swims due to a large whirlpool which forms in the north shore flow and seems to want to take you right into and it happened to me 3 times that day, this was on a calm day for the falls graded blue on so nothing near as big as it could get which led to me to want to understand how whirlpools really behave and how do I roll back up while capsized in one, I had to do a wet exit in the heart of one which did drag me down under the surface and to be honest it felt like if I hadn't been holding onto the kayaks deck lines with a strong grip it would have taken me down further, thankfully I don't know how much further and for how long as I just made sure I had a good grip of the kayak whenever I tipped into it and it does dissapate after about 20 seconds and by then I am down current in much friendlier waves to re entry roll, what id really like to know is has anyone on here experienced this before and if at the falls of lora how long could you be held under on a big water day?

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Jonny1982 »

Hi Gordon, you might get info from the river paddlers in this instance. I'd post on whitewater page too.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

Thanks Jonny I'll put one there too

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by UKRGB Moderator »

If you post on the same topic in more than one place, it splits the discussion. Please include a link back to the original thread and ask people to put discussion on there.

Otherwise it just creates work for the volunteers who look after the site.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

OK I'll just leave it where it is at the moment, I have done a bit of my own research aswell now and from what I can see, whirlpools that appear and dissapate on moving water such as tide races and rivers aren't as sinister as the static whirlpools and even if they do pull you under should let go in under 15 seconds and usually less, I also seen there is no point in trying to fight the current, it is advised to go with the flow and try and use the speed to break past it before it takes hold, I imagine it's going to take a fair bit of practice to get comfortable in them though and even more to keep in full control, I think I'll need to get back to the falls of lora on more calmer days where it isn't so powerful and have a play about

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Jim »

Difficult to say because the tide makes things quite different every time at the falls.
First question were you on the flood or the ebb?
I have only messed about on spring ebbs in small play boats when you can surf the standing waves near the north stanchion, except when they turn into overfalls then they tend to do the playing rather than you!

I have only once taken a swim there, I was in a playboat and a whirlie grabbed the stern and backlooped me, but being a whilrlie the stern of my kayak was stuck in the central depression so was much deeper than the bow. At this point you also need to know that my default roll is a reverse screw where I set up at the stern.... needless to say all my roll did was spin the boat around more in the whilrlie! I vaguely recall I was down for a bit after I got out but it released me pretty quickly, if you stand and watch for a while you will see that it is really turbulent and continually collapsing and re-forming so no one whirlie lasts too long, and they all spin off downstream and lose power as they go. They do certainly last long enough to give you a scare, and if you didn't have good breath when you went in it could possibly be quite nasty and end with you gulping water in panic (go to hospital and ask to be monitored for secondary drowning!) but most of the time they let go before it gets serious.
The caveat to all of this is that I believe just west of the reef it shelves off fairly steeply and there is a chance you could go pretty deep pretty quick, but down quick and up quick without pausing shouldn't give you any problems with blood gas, but might be much more problematic for downtime and breathing than than being stuck in a whirlie. It is a popular drift dive so you might get a better insight into the underwater currents on a dive forum. Personally I wouldn't go with anyone I didn't think was pretty confident to stay in their boat, although I never actually think about the consequences of coming out.

The thing I remember most about my swim was being watched/followed by a seal whilst my friends tried to rescue me - the seal didn't offer to help.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

Thanks very much Jim it was a spring ebb flow I was on aswell but the standing waves weren't that big to surf this day, that's reassuring to hear that it shouldnt hold me under for too long, it definitely was a scare as it was my first time in that environment but there is only one way to learn and I do believe I'm at the stage to start moving onto more challenging conditions, it's the first swim I've had to do since I got this boat so I was a bit disappointed I couldn't roll myself out of it but I'm here to tell the tale and I got a lot out of the experience even though it did scare the hell out of me for the time I was inside the swirl, mainly because I didn't understand fully what was going to happen, at the time I feared I would be dragged down to my death to be completely honest, it hasn't put me off though, I'm determined to get back out in it and practice more untill I have the skills to be more in control, I did notice there lots of smaller whirlpools that form in the current on the south side that could be good to practise in by letting it take the bow and stern down and figure out how to keep control, I also forgot my nose clip which I have become used to using for rolling practice and use any time I'm out in any challenging conditions, I think that's why I just done a wet exit when I capsized, also comfortable knowing I was with competent rescuers at hand ready to assist, because of this I also decided it was a good time to start learning to roll without my noseclip on and I'm happy to say I didn't miss a roll when I was practising in the calmer water outside the eddy lines, I am still very new to the sport I only started kayaking in June this year so I do have plenty to learn still but I'm absolutely loving it, I wish I had got into it sooner

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by MikeB »

I'd recommend talking to a guy called Hammock who's pretty much the go-to for the Falls. This said, most of the established coaches in the area also know what's what. I mention this as a pal of mine had a very interesting "out of boat" experience involving considerable depth, for a considerable time. On discussing this with people who know, the advice was that being by which ever pillar he was at, at whatever state of tide was involved was a "bad thing".

Helpfully, I can't recall the details exactly, but I think it was the north pillar.

I've only ever played there in mild'ish conditions, and never swam so I can't comment more. Great fun though.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

Thanks Mike that does sound like I could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time then as it was the north pillar I was at, thankfully I wasn't dragged down too deep but I still think that was due to the death grip I had on my kayak lol and it is a 17.5ft boat with bulkheads so has a lot of buoyancy, hopefully Hammock will see this post and offer some advice, it really is great fun I'm glad you've had fun playing there too, the south pillar was also good fun just not as big as the north flow, atleast there's no massive whirlies though

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Chris Bolton »

hopefully Hammock will see this post
If not, Tony Hammock runs Seafreedom Kayak.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by MikeB »

Gordon Gilzean wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:21 pm
Thanks Mike that does sound like I could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time then as it was the north pillar I was at, thankfully I wasn't dragged down too deep but I still think that was due to the death grip I had on my kayak lol and it is a 17.5ft boat with bulkheads so has a lot of buoyancy,
My pal reported being dragged from the death grip he had on the boat - - - and down!

hopefully Hammock will see this post and offer some advice, it really is great fun I'm glad you've had fun playing there too, the south pillar was also good fun just not as big as the north flow, atleast there's no massive whirlies though
Chris has given a link to Mr Hammock.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Northern Blue »

There are plenty of experienced coaches that could run you through the FoL, but I can personally vouch for Tony Hammock. He lives opposite the falls and has a lot of experience of running them.

Last year, my girlfriend and myself, along with another friend, had a half day with Tony, where he got us ready in the flows further up the loch and once he was happy that we were ready, he left us to choose whether to run the falls, or not.

We did the run, albeit at a fairly low level and one of our group took a swim. I ended up doing my first (none training) rescue and the whole session was invaluable.

Fully intend going back to Tony next year, with the falls running at a higher level.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Northern Blue »

Pics are not best quality....


Image

Image

Image

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Jim »

Very very poor VHS to digital conversion, this was early 00s because I moved from the Glide to the Session+ in 2003 and I am in the Glide here. I did eventually manage to get off by forward looping.

I wonder if I still have the VHS, I have a VHS-DVD recorder now, might be able to improve the quality a little...


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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

That's a lot bigger water than it was when I was there thankfully, I'm glad you got of it, it does look good fun though, it looks wild lol

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Jim »

That would have been an ecquinoctal spring tide, you need the biggest tide differences of the year for it to form up like that, but so many small differences can make the difference between it forming or not, it is very hard to predict accurately, that's why I haven't been up for years, we got put off by wasted trips when it just didn't quite come off.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by jmmoxon »

The waves did stop forming as well for several years, but seem to be back in form more recently.

Bren Orton & co on the Ottawa:
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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by ike »

That’s some serious downtime. Just goes to show though, these guys don’t have gills, so it’s all about remaining calm and focused.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

I seen that video aswell it really is some time they're held under and I can imagine there is nothing you can really do other than hope you got enough of a last breathe to make it through the time spent underwater, I think my next training session will include holding my breath for aslong as possible while capsized before I roll up and hopefully the next time I get sucked down it won't be so much of a panic, it got me thinking about keeping one of those emergency diving tanks securely strapped to the front deck with a long enough regulator tube to be able to just lean forward and have a bit of comfort knowing I have a few minutes of air so just tuck up and breath untill the boat settle and then roll up, I think that could be a bit overkill as I've never seen an oxygen tank as part of any kayaker equipment before lol

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Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by MikeB »

Another coach who offers insight to the Falls is Zoe Newsam - and I rather suspect the good folks at Sea Kayak Oban would have thoughts and suggestions. Roland Woolven and Ken Lacy are also well known in the area although I don’t know if they use the Falls much. Iirc Kate Duffus is also familiar.

All contact details should be in the Almanac.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Chris Bolton »

I think my next training session will include holding my breath for as long as possible
It is actually amazing how long you can hold your breath if you're not panicking. Years ago I managed to swim two lengths of a 25m pool underwater, including turning at the end, but it's a lot easier when you know you can just pop up to the surface if you have to. So well worth practising; once you know from just ducking under in the pool that you can hold your breath underwater for, say, a minute, you then practice in the boat.
it got me thinking about keeping one of those emergency diving tanks securely strapped to the front deck
The big wave surfers in the Pacific do that but I haven't heard of it in sea kayaks.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by jmmoxon »

River kayakers have tried it for underwater pin situations, but it proved almost impossible to get the tube in their mouths in violently turbulent situations.

Anyway, you have enough oxygen to be submerged for quite a long time, it is your body trying to get rid of CO2 that makes you want to breath...
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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Jim »

jmmoxon wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:54 am
Anyway, you have enough oxygen to be submerged for quite a long time, it is your body trying to get rid of CO2 that makes you want to breath...
I think I managed almost 2 minutes during offshore survival training using the air pocket (blow into it before you submerge, and then breathe out of it whilst escaping), as the CO2 level goes up your chest really starts to tighten. Very wierd sensation, one reflex is to breathe, but confronted with high CO2 in the air another reflex tries to stop you breathing! I'm sure fitter people can go much longer, I am not very efficient with my oxygen.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Sean_soup »

Jim wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 11:39 am
... using the air pocket
As a kayaker you're already sitting in a massive plastic (or fibreglass) air pocket. I suggest a snorkel arrangement built into a drysuit - inhale through a vent down below the waist, exhale directly into the drysuit itself. You get a couple of minutes' worth of slightly fetid air, and by the time the spraydeck does finally implode your drysuit will have inflated to Michelin man proportions and propel you straight to the surface thusly: viewtopic.php?t=123207#p783253

Patent pending.

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Ken_T »

Hi Sean,
I would be careful inflating a dry suit, You don't want to end up on the surface, but head down unable to turn because your dry suit legs are inflated.
Ken

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Sean_soup »

Oh bugger! You've discovered a flaw in my carefully thought out and completely serious plan - back to the drawing board then I suppose...

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by Gordon Gilzean »

That's an interesting idea the air pocket, I've thought about running a tube through the spray deck for that if it would work, I can hold my breath for a long while in a calm environment, I timed myself a few nights ago and I could comfortably manage 1.5 minutes and I managed to hold it for 2 minutes, that's a calm environment though with a nice slow deep breathe, in a physical situation where breathing speed is increased and less then comfortable conditions I reckon 30 seconds would be more realistic for me, I think practising after releasing air rather than breathing in might be a good idea, that way any breath before submersion is a bonus

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Re: Falls of lora whirlpool charactistics

Post by jmmoxon »

Corran Addison produced a boat with breathing tube, it wasn't a commercial success...
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