Jump into water from 50 feet

July 8, 2007

Last weekend we were in Massasauga Provincial Park with Dave & Gena and Gideon & Brenda. On the Saturday, we decided to go for a bit of an adventure since we weren't moving our campsite that day, and while we were paddling back to the campsite we stopped at a cliff that was in the 25-30 foot range. Dave and Gideon jumped without hesitation, which amazed me. And that left me. There I was, standing up there looking way down at the water thinking, how on earth do you convince your brain to do something it's convinced is completely idiotic. Well, you tell your brain to shut up, take a deep breath, and before you realize what you're about to do, you jump. Then there's that half second of terrified glory as you hang in weightlessness 25 feet above the water. Wow.

Once you start falling it takes all of a second and a half to hit the water... amazing. I got a fair amount of water up my nose as was expected, and I hit the water at a bit of an angle, but I was no worse for wear. It was amazing! I have to recommend this to anyone to hasn't done it.

Now that I've done a roughly 25 foot jump, the thought of jumping from 50 feet seems on one hand easier, since hey, it's only another 0.5 seconds of falling, but on the other hand, absolutely insane. 25 feet is already a long way up, I'm sure I'd be scared out of my mind looking down from 50 feet.

After doing some calculations with t = sqrt( 2 * d / a ):

27 feet = 8.2 meters:
  t = sqrt( 16.4 / 9.8 ) = 1.29 seconds
  v = t * a = 1.29 * 9.8 = 12.6 m/s = 45 km/h

50 feet = 16.4 meters:
  t = sqrt( 32.8 / 9.8 ) = 1.83 seconds
  v = t * a = 17.93 m/s = 64.5 km/h

70 feet = 16.4 meters:
  t = sqrt( 42.66 / 9.8 ) = 2.09 seconds
  v = t * a = 20.93 m/s = 75.3 km/h

If 45 km/h doesn't cause any kind of slapping/pain, then I'm sure 65 km/h is plenty safe. From 50 feet it's probably wise to wear shoes to prevent your feet from getting a bit bruised. The numbers seem to suggest that jumping from 70 feet is still doable, but my guess is that landing incorrectly from that height would be easily fatal. (On the other hand, when people attempt suicide by jumping off of the golden gate bridge at 746 ft, they're not always successful; apparently 200 km/h isn't enough to always be fatal) Anyway, I have absolutely no interest in jumping from 70 feet :) I'll leave that to the dare devils. (Not that I could bring myself to do it anyways)

So 50 feet it is... we'll see if I ever get up enough courage to do it.

Why I want to do it

I didn't realize I was scared of heights until the summer of 2002 when I was up north with some friends at Craig Ashborn's cottage. My friend Tom wanted to do some cliff jumping, so we paddled over to a 35 foot cliff and off he went. I figured I might join him, but when I climbed up to the top I was petrified. There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to jump.

Jumping into water really isn't dangerous. Sure, if you do a belly flop, you're going to be in trouble, but jumping and landing on your feet is pretty easy to do. Where accidents happen is when people start showing off doing back flips, diving head first, etc. But if you keep it simple, it's good clean fun. In the end, it's a mental exercise. Get over your fears and have the ride of your life.