When the bubbles go down, please get *out*.
Ooh, I love whirlpools! From a distance! LIke on the TV! Wasn't one in a Sinbad film back in the day, or am I hallucinating? Works for me. Love the photo.
Oof, this is all pretty chilling. I spend a lot of time worrying that people read about my cold water swimming and don’t pick up on my hefty respect for - even fear of - what water can do. It’s awe-inspiring in all the ancient ways.
Couple of things here.
1) My new superhero name is the Maelstrom of Wetwang. You've all been warned.
2) Lord, I am dumb when it comes to maths. You write "The sum of the squares of a right triangle’s two shorter sides equals the square of the hypotenuse," and my head hearts and I know the letters form words that mean important things but all I hear is "Blah blah squares blah blah triangle blah blah I hope I get to see a hippopotamus some day."
3) Whirlpools are the best! I've got one in a book I recently finished writing!
Actual full-body shiver over “hook you under the rock.” Dear god. Once when I was very little, I was held under and flipped many times by an ocean wave. It was so long ago now, but I’ve never forgotten the visceral terror of not knowing which way was up and then the weird calm certainty that I was going to die. Didn’t, of course, but I’ve had an extremely healthy respect for all bodies of water ever since.
Anyway, thank you so much - this post was fascinating! I’m glad you never got hooked under the rock.
Tremendously enjoyable read, thank you 🙏
This was very interesting Mike and I'm glad to be a newish explorer. Your writing is delightful and makes me want to dig in and learn a bit more. Two comments
(1) while a fan of the metric system as a much better and cohesive set of weights and measures, there is not much poetry in each liter weighs about a kilogram. As a youngish engineering student, I much prefer "a pint's a pound the world around".
(2) I like that you focus on the dominance of water in our world. A wonderful Goldilocks sort of place that is just right. A wonderful book by Simon Winchester about the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 delved into the science of plate tectonics. The part I remember most was the description it is best to think of the world as a large bathtub and the land are really just floating bits of small bars of soap floating on top. While not a perfect description, nevertheless a great way to realize that even children going to school in the 1970s were using textbooks that were simply wrong about how the earth works as plate tectonics was so new at that point!
The thing that really struck me reading this one (besides horror) was how delightful it is to read someone who feels like they really know the place they live, or are from. The land, the water. It’s deeply satisfying to read this from your perspective.
I was pinned under a fallen tree in a rushing river that had tipped my family’s canoe when I was about two years old and have a healthy respect for any but the most well-known and calmest waters!
Just wow! First of all, having grown up at a whitewater rafting company, I'm familiar with river-based whirlpools (usually harmless - the water keeps moving and they can be fun to swim through with a lifejacket) and I'm also familiar with the rocks you describe at the Bolton Strid -- we call those "undercut" rocks because they're shaped like mushrooms and can tangle you up underneath them, particularly if you're still attached to your kayak or if logs are lodged down there. I've had friends die that way, so it's definitely something to respect.
But when you described the "oily" patch in the ocean, I had no idea what you meant (having grown up NOT near the sea), so to see it in that video -- spooky! You're right, it's obviously something scary that has no business in the ocean except there it is. Such a cool explanation of why it's happening. I learn something new every time I read your newsletters!
Mesmerizing read! When you wrote about Corryvreckan I immediately thought of the Powell & Pressburger movie "I Know Where I'm Going." Love that movie and Corryvreckan plays an important part in it. https://whirlpool-scotland.co.uk/films/
Wow. Have seen videos of low water dams and their hydraulic currents, and. . .no joke. Scary force.