Do they still work?
The short answer is “yes”. As you can see from the photo gallery there have been some fantastic sessions in the last couple of years.
Sometimes, from a playboater’s point of view, the falls can fall short of expectations. The main waves do not always form properly, which can be extremely frustrating. Various theories have been proposed as to why this happens. One theory is that cyclic kelp growth on the sea bed influences the flow. However, we live right beside the falls and have seen the waves working well one day and not working the next, so the kelp theory seems difficult to support. The main factors seem to be the tidal range on the day and the actual height of the tide at low water. The height of the tide often varies significantly from that predicted. We have observed tides up to 0.5 metres higher than the prediction at times of low atmospheric pressure and/or strong south westerly winds. On those days when big waves were expected but did not form well, the low water depth has been higher than predicted.
There is a lot more studying to be done yet, but at the moment my advice for playboaters would be – pick days when the predicted tidal range is over 3.5 metres and the low water prediction is 0.6 or less. If the weather is bad, i.e. low pressure and/or strong SW winds – think twice about coming or be prepared to paddle the Orchy instead. If in doubt, give me a call on 01631 710173
When it works, it really is awesome, in the original meaning of the word.
Information for playboaters
Location, access and parking information can be found here
Competent playboaters will probably only be interested in the ebb tide. The wave and current patterns change during the tidal range, the sequence is explained below: