Frequently Asked Questions about buying a Hovercraft

Q: Does it work on land as well?
A: Yes it does. Any surface which the skirt can seal to such as tarmac(bitumen,) grass, sand, snow, ice, mud, saltings, marshes... pretty much anything except a pebble beach.

Q : Tarmac eh? So I can drive a hovercraft on the road?
A : Yes you can. You'll probably end up in prison but if you're lucky you'll be arrested by a policeman with a sense of humour. (That's a 'NO' by the way.)

Q : How deep does the water need to be?
A: It really doesn't matter - basically, if you can't see it, you can't hit it. The water can a puddle or a mile deep - it makes no difference at all.

Q : What license do I need to drive one?
A : In the UK, you don't. Hovercraft are classified as boats for recreational purposes. If you're operating commercially, the situation becomes more complex - just ask us and we'll explain. You'll need to check your local regulations if you're lucky enough to live somewhere other than the UK. In any case, we recommend that you get some basic boating knowledge so you understand the 'rules of the road' - driving into another water user at 30knots can seriously ruin your enjoyment. We can provide training and certification for both recreational and commercial users.

Q : 35bhp? That's not much is it!
A : Plenty! Power to weight is the important thing. The Marlin (for instance) weighs a little over 200kgs. Your Ford Fiesta weighs nearer 1000kgs, and has what? Maybe 80bhp? Heavy hovercraft need more power, which means loads of noise and spray, high running costs, poor range and dreadful steering. Efficiency and clever design means a little power goes a long way. Our 35bhp Marlin out performs a 120bhp hovercraft made of HDPE for instance! A good analogy is to compare the performance of a 120bhp Caterham 7 weighing 600kgs and a 700bhp Scania Truck with bald tyres! Which one's fastest and most fun to drive?

Q : I still want more power!
A : Of course you do, some folks will always want to go faster! Ask for details on our 'Rampage' engine - a modified Vanguard that offers 50bhp at the same low revs. Installed in a bog-standard Marlin II, it took second place in the WHF World Endurance Championship, competing against full-blown racing craft.

Q : Where can I use it?
A : Anywhere you can use a boat - but with the advantage of being able to cruise at low water, exploring shallow water bays and estuaries, waterways and beaches where no boat can go. Around the UK, there are lots of fabulous places to use your hovercraft and clubs who organise cruising events. Hovercraft are the most environmentally sound powered vessel available, so you can rest assured that - as long as you use your craft responsibly - you'll cause no damage to the ground over which you travel or the environment in general. It goes without saying that you can't drive a hovercraft across Blackpool Beach on a sunny July Saturday without expecting a prison sentence. Be sensible, don't be an idiot, and you can enjoy your hovercraft without causing offense or danger to other people. In Depth Article HERE

Q : Do I buy or build?
A : To some people, much of the thrill is building the hovercraft as driving it. We can supply you a complete component set if that's the route you wish to take, the kit includes everything down to the last nut and bolt and then you simply bolt it all together and join in the fun. Or, just buy the hull and source parts/build it as you wish. The other type of hovercraft enthusiast is the one who wants to use their hovercraft as they would a jetski, boat, quad or snowmobile. They want to jump in, use their craft, washing it off at the end of the day and put it away. It really is your decision but we're here to help, so call for a chat and we'll give you our advice on options.

Q : Aren't Hovercraft damn noisy!
A : Yes - some are. Noise comes from both the engine, and fan assembly so a quieter engine and intelligent fan design can massively reduce the noise. Some manufacturers insist on using nasty two-stroke engines and fast fans. They will, literally make your ears bleed and do nothing but harm the hobby by annoying people with their awful racket. Our hovercraft feature compact four-stroke engines (maximum revs 4000rpm) and slow fans. At cruising speed, the Marlin is just 78dbA at 25m and the Coastal-Pro is probably the quietest production hovercraft in Europe at just 74dbA full power.

Q : So, if I stop on the water, will it sink?
A : No. We thought of that and all BHC hovercraft float like a boat. If it is completely swamped (ie full of water) it will continue to float as it has plenty of flotation foam fitted. Crucially, BHC hovercraft can then restart on the water and get 'back on the plane' easily. Not all hovercraft can! VIDEO

Q : Doesn't the skirt tear or wear out easily?
A : Here's the clever bit. The skirt on our craft is actually individual segments so in the event of damage, you simply replace one small segment - not the whole thing. Easy! It takes just a few seconds and in any case, due to the nature of a segmented skirt, what actually happens is that the segments either side of the damaged one will simply expand more into the available space - so you shouldn't even see a deterioration in performance until you've damaged quite a number.

The skirt is made of a bespoke material - neoprene coated nylon which is resistant to salt water, UV and tearing and has excellent wear characteristics. It's amazing stuff, very, very resilient to everything we ask of it! Anyway, our hovercraft have superb lift characteristics so there's no skirt dragging on the floor to snag obstacles. Heavier craft tend to be more prone to skirt damage for the opposite reason! In normal recreational usage, we find most customers get around 1-2 years from their skirt before it requires complete replacement.

Q : Hovercraft or Hovercrafts?
A : A very good question to end on! Often discussed subject and in fact we see it written see hovercraft, hovercrafts, hover craft and hover crafts! some overseas buyers even spell it 'Hoovercraft' and after considerable debate,we've decided 'luftkissenfahrzeug' is pretty much the coolest handle a hovercraft can have. But the only correct spelling is 'hovercraft' - whether its singular or plural. You may be talking about one small hovercraft or 10 large hovercraft but the word follows the same rule as the word 'aircraft.' in other words, you may have one aircraft or twelve aircraft, but you never have any aircrafts, air craft or air crafts!
Telephone 01304 619820
Email
Address British Hovercraft Company
Building 4
Sandwich Industrial Estate
Sandwich
CT13 9LU