The 37Efi fuel injected Vanguard hovercraft engine from Briggs & Stratton

added by russ on March 1, 2017 at 09:10

 

 

In 2016, Briggs & Stratton released a new fuel injected version of the ‘big-block’ 35bhp engine that we use in our Marlin & Coastal-Pro hovercraft. Upgraded to 37bhp and with fuel injection, unfortunately, it was initially only available in the US market. We had to beg and plead with Basco (the UK importers) for some months before the US would give one up for us to test.

The motor has already proved popular with the ‘Mud Motor’ community so we had high hopes it would make a good hovercraft engine. When we did get our grubby mits on the first one in Europe, we ‘hoverised’ it and installed it into a Marlin ‘Beast,’ handing it straight over to no less than Jeremy Clarkson to open the ‘Clarkson, Hammond & May LIVE’ shows. When we got the craft back (reasonably undented, remarkably!) we got down to proper testing, putting another 50 or so hours on it with no issues whatsoever. Then we removed it and fitted it into a Coastal-Pro MACV where it has behaved impeccably for another 60 hours.

So what do we think?

Well, we love it to be honest!

Headline power figure is only 2bhp more than the regular, identical-but-carburettored V-Twin. However, it feels considerably stronger than that – and fan data seems to suggest that it could be nearer 40bhp than the advertised figure. Meanwhile, the improved torque of the engine is very apparent, with excellent throttle response and a higher resistance to ‘fan-stall’ when turning at high speed. Tickover is very smooth, and it appears to be slightly more economical, though that is more difficult to accurately quantify.

Since then, we’ve fitted eight to customer craft and they’ve performed really well.

Installed in the Marlin, it makes for a lively performer with excellent hump performance and injects some real sparkle into the craft. In a Coastal-Pro, the engine gives noticeably more push, which is great news when undertaking demanding work or with more load on board.

Price-wise, it’s a more expensive engine, so the premium is £450.00 compared to the standard 35bhp carburettor engine. Personally, I think it’s worth every penny – but it’ll depend on your own requirements and budget of course.

For more details, call or email us.  

 info@britishhovercraft.com

0044(0)1304 619820

 

 

2016 was quite a year - so, what's coming in 2017?

added by russ on January 6, 2017 at 06:05

USA, Philippines, The Bahamas, Finland, Sweden, Republic of  Ireland, Scotland, Portugal & The UAE. As well as numerous UK sales, off the top of my head, this is a list of the countries we sent hovercraft to in 2016.

Constantly developed and improved products, better marketing and the weak pound have all combined to make 2016 a pretty good year business-wise. Whilst British exports are (for now!) hamstrung by her membership of the European Union, as usual we lost some fantastic enquiries to ridiculous trade tariffs  - for instance, an order to provide 10 Snappers for an events company in Brazil fell through when the client discovered the duty rate is 80%!

So the long term forecast following the 'Brexit' referendum of June 23rd 2016 is good for British manufacturers and exporters, once we’re able to make our own trade deals with emerging nations and commonwealth countries – many of which are prime markets for a company making luxury toys and providing alternative transport methods!

What I have promised myself is that in 2017, we'll find distributors for our products in Australia - we get numerous enquiries, and having sold a few hovercraft there (plus two years of running a hovercraft driving events business in Queensland, helping out in the 2010 floods and enjoying cruises organised by the Australian Hovercraft Club!) we know what an amazing time you can have with them down under!

So – what’s new for this year? Work continues on our larger 6-seat craft which we hope to have in production by early summer, the new Marlin will likewise be launched, though that’s likely to be later in the year. We’ve got some new products and R&D projects underway which will further improve existing Marlin, Snapper & Coastal-Pro craft as well. New website, some competitions, HCGB cruise diary to be published - oh and BHC will once again be providing big laughs and hilarity, myself racing a Formula One hovercraft in the European Hovercraft race series (at my age I should know better but these things are kind of addictive you know!) So - lot’s happening! make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to be kept up to date, and our Youtube channel for all things hovercraft-related!

Warwick Jacobs resigns from the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

added by russ on October 19, 2016 at 10:21

Sad news from the hovercraft museum this weekend when we heard that Warwick Jacobs has resigned from his role as a trustee and curator.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there would be no museum without Warwick. Back in 1986, in an attempt to save the last of the Hovertravel SRN-5’s, he approached the ‘Hovercraft Society’ and successfully called in favours and sponsors to store the 40ft hovercraft ‘here there and everywhere’ until a permanent site could be found. From this beginning, the collection grew quickly, found its home at HMS Daedalus, and in 2000 took possession of two of the monstrous SRN-4’s which had been plying their trade across the channel for over 30 years. More recently, with these important pieces of British transport history facing the likelihood of being scrapped (issues with the ownership, and tenure of the site…) Warwick again took a lead in winning a stay of execution whilst alternatives are sought. None of this would have happened without his flair, drive and ambition – and his knowledge of the history of hovercraft is well into ‘obsession’ territory! I know I speak for many volunteers when I say it’s a terrible shame that the face of the museum (Warwick is the  ‘Go-To’ man for TV interviews on either hovercraft or the museum itself) has found it necessary to leave the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

This will certainly mean there are challenging times ahead for the remaining trustees, and we truly hope they can continue to match Warwick’s commitment and devotion to this valuable collection.

Everyone here at The British Hovercraft Company would like to thank Warwick for the 30 years of hard work. The place won’t be the same without you!

Warwick (left) accepting an award on behalf of the museum from The Transport trust - with Frances Cockerell & Stuart Wilkinson.

 

What you may not know is that Warwick is also a very talented, professional  artist. Here's a  framed print he sent our own Emma Pullen on her birthday!

You can see his work HERE

 

If it quacks like a duck......our '£2,000,000.00" Deal!

added by russ on October 4, 2016 at 09:45

Back in Summer, we received an enquiry which sounded good. Very good in fact. It led to a meeting which, if I weren’t such a cynic, may well have resulted in huge financial loss, imprisonment - or worse.  So, I hope this cautionary tale will read by small business owners and a lesson learned.

We sell hovercraft all over the world so it was no surprise when ‘Alex’ contacted us by telephone from (he said) Russia, keen to know more about pricing, lead times and specifications. After several calls, he made it clear he was the middle-man and his commission was to be considered. The entire deal was worth some £2m, so we agreed 20% for brokering the deal. This is pretty familiar stuff, though the numbers are usually less. At this stage, we were dubious it would go anywhere - we’ve heard these promises before, but if you don’t run with it, you’ll never get the deal will you? One of these big deals has to – eventually – come good!

Alex was somewhat reticent about revealing who the client was, but that’s understandable as he was ostensibly protecting his position with regards a £400,000 commission. He told us the craft were to be used for rental on a frozen lake in Russia where the jet skis and boats were impossible to use in the frozen winter – okay that made sense. He asked us to submit an invoice for the full amount (150 hovercraft totaling £2m) for him to forward to his client who he called just ‘Dmitri.’ Duly sent, we were asked if we could schedule a meeting. ‘Of course’ we said, ‘when would you like to visit us?’ ‘No,’ he told us, ‘Dmitri will be in Milan next week on other business, would you meet him there?’

Some years ago, we started writing the ‘HoveRules’ – a document which now comprises 23 inviolate rules and is growing all the time as we learn more and try not to repeat mistakes we’ve made (I’d recommend that you do it for your own business, if only because it’s very liberating!) Rule number 7 (an early one) is that we don’t travel to meetings to see people we have no trading history with, and that haven’t in some way shown commitment to trade with us.

So why did my wife (and business partner) and I find ourselves on a flight to Milan a few days later? Well, we were due a break and had pondered where to go for a few days to recharge our batteries after a few frantic weeks at work. Easyjet flights £36 return and a 4* hotel at £50/night was cheap enough and – as I said above – if you don’t see it through to its conclusion, you’ll never do the deal will you! At worst, we’d get our break in a city that, otherwise I wouldn’t have found a reason to visit.

On arrival, we were meeting my friend who lives a few hours from Milan. Alex told us we didn’t need an interpreter – he would translate for us as Dmitri spoke only French and Russian. But – as I said at the outset, I’m a cynical type of feller and would rather have a trusted companion translating for me. At this point, we still did not have a surname, a company name, address or any other information – we knew only that we were meeting Alex and Dmitri at the Hotel ME Milan, one of the best in the city. As you can imagine, I was going into this extremely sceptical it was going anywhere.  We arrived at the hotel and some ten minutes later ‘Dmitri’ turned up. He was a short, rotund man, around 55 years old, dressed in an expensive suit and clearly of middle-eastern origin. A firm handshake, confident manner and he took us to the bar where we settled down to business with a drink. I presented him with a bottle of ‘Chase’ – an English Vodka as a gift and he seemed quite appreciative of the gesture (So he should be the stuff is £44 a bottle duty free!) There was no sign of Alex - I still don’t know if that was poor planning or a deliberate ploy. It was therefore very fortunate we’d taken my friend along or god-alone knows what we’d have ‘agreed’ to!

I asked Dmitri how he’d found us and he asked why that was important. I asked him what his full name was, where he was from and whether he had a business card. He wrote a large letter ‘X’ on a napkin and refused to give me a phone number. I asked what he wanted the hovercraft for - he replied it was to rent out through hotels in the Balkan states – a different story than Alex’s. How did he find us? ‘At a racing meeting.’ More nonsense! He asked no technical questions, only vaguely alluding to the fact he would expect a warranty on the craft. Basically, he displayed no interest in the products and wanted to get straight down to how he would pay – at which point the scam was revealed and I acknowledged we had wasted a decent bottle of vodka and a day of our holiday.

He would be paying £500,000 in cash he told us.

Oh. Now, 500 ‘large’ (Realising I was dealing with a crook, I found myself talking all 'Guy Ritchie') isn’t small change. To meet money laundering regulations, I’d need (at least) his full name, proof of where the money had come from and to meet him at my bank in the UK to pay it straight in. Needless to say, this wasn’t what he had in mind at all! Whilst my friend progressed the negotiations a little, I had a chance to look the man over again. He wore a pretty good suit but the shoes, glasses and (give away of giveaways!) wristwatch were all cheap. Unless I’m a very poor judge of character, this wasn’t a truly wealthy man as he purported to be and reinforced my position - we were, to quote the Dragons, ‘out!’ Via our translator, he suggested leaving the cash payment to the end of the deal, when the last craft were delivered -  that the invoice amount would be reduced accordingly (see the problem here, I would have agreed a £500,000 discount on his purchase price for the same number/value of craft and he’d have that in writing) but it was clear it was all about this half million in cash. He got ‘upset’ saying we didn’t trust him (at least he was right about that) and said maybe we should go back to ‘making 10 craft each year’ until we pointed out we build close on 100… he was really quite surprised at that.

We left. Cordially. We shook his hand, wished him the best - and fled.

Afterwards, my friend filled us in with the bits we missed during their (at times) heated conversation but the bombshell came later in the day when he spoke to his father-in-law back in Venice. He clicked his fingers ‘I saw this on television!’ he said – ‘this is a scam being run by a middle-eastern gang. It’s forged money that they want to get into the UK. They’re targeting small UK companies and giving them an attractive ‘order’ that they can’t refuse.’ Known apparently as 'The Milan Scam.'

Finally, all the bits slotted into place. The cash, the man, the structure of payments all supported what he was telling us. We’d have been committing a very serious crime, they’d ‘have’ us hooked and could blackmail or use us in any way they wished. I’ll be clear, there was no way we’d have risked our business or a prison sentence to do this deal – and I’m guessing these are pretty unpleasant people to deal with if you changed your mind later on. My friend received one phone call from ‘Alex’ the day after and told him we couldn’t build the hovercraft quick enough to satisfy their order or some such excuse.

We enjoyed a few days break down in Milan (lovely city by the way!) and flew back to the UK no worse off for the experience, but reiterating Rule 7 to ourselves - we don’t run round after people who haven’t proved their credentials and/or serious intent.

We’ve submitted the information to UK authorities in the hope that exposing the scam may prevent small UK businesses from getting caught in this web. Half a million in cash is a pretty powerful incentive and I can imagine some businesses being overawed by it, to the detriment of clear thinking. The further we went with it the more this ‘deal’ stunk, but we had to see it through and it proved once again that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck!

A reply to some client questions.

added by russ on September 9, 2016 at 08:39

Copied here because many of the questions are fairly common ones!

All our craft use Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engines.  Built in Japan by Daihatsu, they are low revving four-strokes, which means decent noise levels and very good economy. Snappers use around 4-5 litres of fuel an hour, Marlins maybe 6-7 (much less than a jet ski!) They use regular UK/US pump fuel, no need for anything special.  Both will get around 2-4 hours from a fuel tank (12 litres on Snapper, and 25 on a Marlin) but of course it depends on conditions, payload, wind and the driver.

Maintenance is (in brief) as follows.

Pre-operation, check the craft over. Visually inspect skirt fix and wear, oil levels, fan condition, belt etc. Takes a couple of minutes per craft.

After a days operation in salt water, wash the craft off thoroughly with fresh water. Allow five minutes per craft.

If skirt needs maintenance, you can change each segment individually (approx. 58 on a Marlin/52 on a Snapper) and it takes just two minutes. The skirt – on water – will last a very long time, you’re likely to get well over a year from them. Sand/Mudflats/gravel obviously wear it faster but its top quality material and designed especially for us by a 'technical materials' company.

At 50 hours, change the oil, adjust tappet clearances, check fuel and air filters, replace if necessary.

How long do they last?

We have customers operating with over 600 hours on their engines, mechanically they are very robust (they are for plant/commercial use remember!) but you may replace ancillaries such as carburetors/coils etc in time. A whole new engine is only £1250.00UK so its not an expensive purchase if the worst happens. I’d certainly hope you got 5-10 years use from the craft, but of course, it depends largely how well they are looked after and the hours they clock up. We keep absolutely everything to build them (of course!) so there's nothing cannot be replaced, even the hulls which (to answer your next question) are built from GRP Fibreglass.

Wave capacity

It's difficult to be too precise about but they are all okay in a ‘chop’ – you must remember they are only small – so whatever you may be comfortable in a small boat of the same size, the hovercraft will be okay too. It’s a common question, and you may find this interesting and useful. http://britishhovercraft.com/UploadedFiles/hovercraft%20performance%20and%20information.jpg Also our FAQ page - http://britishhovercraft.com/Buy-A-Hovercraft/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx

Which Marlin?

For your use I’d recommend the Marlin ‘Beast’ – it has lots of extras and has more 'kerb appeeal' than the Marlin II Freestyle. The Marlin III is the best of everything, but it costs more money and isn’t really necessary for your purposes.

Marlin II : £9,500.00 - No frills, all thrills hovering!

35bhp Briggs & Stratton Engine

Yellow beacon

Bilge Pump

Jockey Seat for two

Hour meter

Kevlar reinforced floor

Internal Buoyancy foam

Limited range of colours. White hull with either blue or red trim.

 

 

 

The Beast : £11,000.00 - As driven by Jeremy Clarkson!

As above but with the additions of

37bhp Hi-Torque 'Savage' engine.

Rear 'T' Seat - more seating for up to three people.

All-round LED white light and navigation lights.

LED Headlights.

Rubber non-slip flooring.

Improved endplate rudders.

Tacho/Rev Counter.

GPS Speedo/heading compass.

Wide range of hull and secondary colours .

 

 

Marlin III : £12,500.00 - The ultimate yacht tender!

As 'The Beast' but with the following additions.

Upgraded, stiffer hull with integrated screen, revised splitter plate to reduce noise and add additional lift, larger receiver area to give improved plenum flow characteristics.

 

 

Lots more answers to many more question on our website!

 

 

 

 

The World's Best Hovercraft? What would we buy?

added by Emma on July 13, 2016 at 06:46

The British Hovercraft Company make a range of hovercraft but by no means do we make something for everyone. We often get asked for hovercraft which aren’t in our product range. Like any vehicle, hovercraft come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t try to cater for every demand – or market. We stick to building the best hovercraft we can, whilst sticking within reasonable budgets to match our customer’s requirements.

But! If money was no object, what would we buy?

Big = Good!  : Griffon TD 8000

Sold all around the world, Griffon Hoverwork manufacture commercial hovercraft from 6 -60 seats. Undoubtedly, the world leaders in large hovercraft, Griffon's largest craft is the TD8000 is a 21m, 1600hp aluminium craft that is capable of 40knots. There's a military version and the Indian Coastguard ordered 12 of these beasts for coastal patrol. Griffon is a huge British success story and this is a truly amazing machine!

 

 

Beautiful : Airlift Pioneer MkIII

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Airlift factory in Australia where a Pioneer MkIII was in construction. The attention to detail, the quality of the engineering and that jaw-dropping styling are a result of the simple fact that Company Director Ross McLeod is a genuine artist. The attention to detail is astonishing and I left wanting one really badly. Fast, beautiful and low-noise, if I could have just one hovercraft, this would be it. Although the new Airlift Wildfire would run it close…

 

 

 

High-End : The Slider

The Slider's a lovely looking bit of kit, made in New Zealand, with great styling and a clever lift system. This together with an expensive engine and a labour intensive loop-and-segment skirt means it's very expensive to buy. Shame it’s a two stroke engine, but it's a great looking machine with good performance. Gets a definite thumbs up from us!

 

 

Hoverboard - No, I'm not talking about those stupid wheeled electric things that burst into flames and singe your novelty pop socks. They don't hover and they're rubbish (as proven by the fact I haven't seen one since Boxing Day 2015) Anyway, it's 2016, and watching a re-run of Back to The Future II last weekend I realised I still haven’t got my hoverboard! Despite a spectacular hoax last year YOUTUBE VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4vE_vpkr90 I think it might be a little while yet as the technology isn’t even on the horizon. But admit it - it’s worth the wait and you want one don’t you? Badly. And believe me, whoever does manage to crack it will be rich beyond dreams!

 

 

Racing Hovercraft : Eurocraft

Designed by Swedish Formula One world champion Magnus Ivanoff, the Eurocraft was a long time in development and drew on the huge experience of a team of European racers. Since then, it has gone on to take numerous European and World championships in the hands of Italian ‘Superstar’ Michele Scanavino and many others.  Constructed from vacuum bagged carbon-fibre/kevlar and powered by tuned snowmobile engines, an F1 Eurocraft can call on over 220bhp….providing simply ballistic performance, demanding God-like driving skill and massive plums. Oh Boy…

 

 

Concept Hovercraft : The VW Aqua Hovercraft

Okay, it won’t ever happen and the photo here is computer generated -it's a bit of fun sponsored by VW, the dream of a Chinese student and wouldn’t work. But if it did get built and it did work (you know, we learn how to break the laws of physics) then I may have to reconsider my opinion that VW make good but boring cars!  Hydrogen fuel cells, retractable wheels, superb styling - what's not to love (apart from the dodgy emission figures!)

 

 

‘Plane’ Stupid! - WIGS

A hovercraft that flies? Now that’s got to be a good idea! WIG (Wing In Ground Effect) technology was pioneered by the Russians back in the 1960’s with the awesome Ekranoplan ‘Caspian Sea Monster’ and has subsequently made its way into the recreational market with either fully built or (even more scarily!) home built offerings from Universal Hovercraft in the USA.  Flying low above the surface (water if you have any sense) using the interaction between wing and surface, the idea of blatting through the middle of London, weaving between the River Cats, 15ft above the Thames does have a certain hooligan/suicidal appeal!

 

 

Historic - The SRN4

There’s been plenty of weird and wonderful designs over the years, and many of them now reside in the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-Solent. Well worth a visit (open Weekends and Wednesdays, see their website for details) and stuffed full of crazy inventions and some wonderful old monsters including the biggest passenger craft ever built, two of the SRN4 cross channel craft operated by Hoverlloyd, Seaspeed and later the joint company, Hoverspeed. They were taken out of service in 2000 but remain an imposing, majestic monster from another age, the like of which we’ll never see again. One of my favourite British inventions of the last century (the Spitfire just edges it out of the number one spot!) the two on display are fighting for their lives in the face of hungry property developers who wish to build flats on the land upon which they stand. I love these beasties – in fact a handbuilt model of ‘Swift’ which once graced the Hoverlloyd MD’s office now takes pride of place in mine!

 

 

Well - that's our selection - who knows what we'll end up building in the future? Maybe there's a few ideas here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hovercraft Manufacturers Association wins industry award!

added by Emma on May 4, 2016 at 04:24

We're delighted to announce that the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association has been awarded a Marine Safety Award by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects. RINA is an internationally renowned professional institution whose members are involved at all levels in the design, construction, maintenance and operation of marine vessels and structures, so it's particularly exciting that the hovercraft industry has been recognised by such a prestigious organisation. I'm pretty sure this is a first (for many years at least!) and it marks another step in our ongoing efforts to mature the hovercraft industry.

The award was jointly shared with Griffon Hoverworks, who contributed their enormous experience in the technical preparation of the Hovercraft Code of Practice. Speaking for ourselves, the new code has already made a substantial difference to our business, with an increase in sales of our Coastal-Pro model to small UK companies who are operating them in a commercial role for survey, monitoring and crew transfer. We also have our own craft that we hire out to companies and organsations operating in intertidal areas via Coastal Transit Services. None of this would be possible without the new code, and other members of the HMA are benefitting equally, seeing both opportunities and safety improved through a set of clear, plain regulation written specifically for small hovercraft by the industry itself.

Our thanks, on behalf of the HMA to RINA, and on a personal note, congratulations to the HMA members who contributed so much time and experience in seeing this daunting project through to its successful completion.

 

 

Mark Downer from Griffon Hoverworks and Russ Pullen, from The British Hovercraft Company receiving the award from RINA at the Lancaster Hotel, London.

 

 

Hovercraft and your Public Right of Navigation

added by Emma on March 24, 2016 at 09:38

 Your right of navigation on UK tidal waters

We often get asked “where can I use a hovercraft?” by potential buyers. The answer is simple enough and very few of our owners have any issues using their hovercraft. Drive sensibly, with due respect to other water users and public, follow our code of practice, understand what you can and can’t do, where you can and can’t operate your hovercraft - and you should be safe in the knowledge you are breaking no laws.

What we’re looking at here is what your rights are when you occasionally run into an over-officious warden or harbour master who will cite a bye-law or rule which means you should not be operating on ‘his’ patch. To avoid an argument, or being ‘bullied’ it’s wise to be ready with the facts.

Now – we’re not lawyers, let’s be clear about that. But the basis in law of our answer ‘anywhere you can use a boat’ can be simply broken down into a couple of points.

In the UK, we have a Public Right of Navigation (PRN) using a vessel in tidal water.

Hovercraft are vessels, just like boats (Jetski’s aren’t – legally speaking)

The ongoing battle between (primarily) kayakers and fishermen with rights to fish non-tidal rivers is a separate matter altogether (even though it’s proven that the kayaks don’t disturb the fish, but that’s another matter…) But, the PRN in tidal waters an uncontested right. For sure, no cases have been found which disputed the existence of a public right of navigation on tidal waters.

However, there are one or two places around the country where hovercraft have been ‘banned’ using a local bye-law. We strongly contend that this is not legal because the law of England is that public rights can only be extinguished in three ways.

  1. Statute (ie an act of parliament.)
  2. Statutory Authority,
  3. Conditions changing so that the right cannot be exercised,

In 2002, Mr Justice Lightman said “PRN may only be extinguished by legislation or exercise of statutory powers” (Josie Rowland v Environment Agency – 2002.)

 A byelaw is NOT a statutory law – therefore it cannot be used to remove a PRN.

For rivers, the normal reason that the right cannot be exercised is that the river has silted up and is no longer passable by conventional boats - but public rights are not extinguished by non-use for any period of time. This means that even if a boat hasn’t used / cannot use a tidal river, the right still exists.  Lord Lindley in the House of Lords who said “the doctrine ‘once a highway always a highway’ is, I believe, as applicable to rivers as to roads.” 

The foreshore is the area between the high water mark and the low water mark. When the tide is in there is an absolute right to navigate through the water (although not necessarily a right to land a boat or launch one) and so it is not possible to fence off foreshore areas, as this would limit navigation. All foreshore belongs to the Crown unless it has in the past been sold or given away. This has occurred in a few places and there are often bylaws prohibiting bait digging on or near the foreshore, which is probably the most common reason for people to use such areas. In any case such activity is usually prohibited by law in protected areas. However, this activity is clearly a separate matter to the PRN which exists.

The Crown Estate gives what it calls a ‘general permissive consent’ for ‘non-commercial public access’ along the foreshore it controls. Approximately half of the UK foreshore and around half of the tidal riverbeds are owned by the Crown and managed by The Crown Estate, in addition to virtually the entire UK seabed out to 12 nautical miles. The Crown Estate is a landowner and not a regulatory authority and ostensibly the owner of the foreshore by virtue of prerogative right. The same applies to the seabed, being land below mean low water. This, in effect, means that the Crown owns all of it unless it has in the past given it away or sold it.

Other owners of foreshore include, for example, the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, Local Authorities, RSPB, National Trust, MOD and some is in the ownership of private individuals. Beaches are owned, although almost all beaches allow public access, often because of the practical impossibility of preventing it. Ownership does not necessarily revoke the PRN. The judge in the 1864 case of Gann vs Free Fishers of Whitstable said that “The foreshore is owned by the Crown except in those places where the ownership has passed to an individual by grant or adverse possession. Where this has happened the grantee takes it, in general, subject to the public right of navigation.”

While we’re on that, it’s worth mentioning that the judge also ruled that ‘constructed’ pits where the owner has dug out an area which fills with tidal water are legally designated as privately owned. He mentioned gravel pits, but bringing that forward to today, inland waterways constructed to give ‘river’ frontage and inland marinas which are controlled by tidal/sluice gates etc – for instance the Sovereign Marina, Eastbourne (look it up on Google Earth) - may well not have a PRN.

Low water, and travelling over mudflats.

There’s lots of court cases which firmly set the precedent that you have a PRN even when the tide is low and you are navigating over foreshore or seabed – some of which I’ll quote here. Lord Widgery : ‘The public right of navigation in tidal waters is a right given by the common law which extends to the whole space over which the tide flows and is not suspended when the tide is too low for vessels to float.’

This was supported by Sir James Hannen, ‘The rights of all vessels are not co-extensive. It may be reasonable and right that a small vessel should go up to the farthest point she can reach in order to give the public the benefit of the public way.’

Lord Denning, ‘There are many cases where people with canoes have a right to take their canoes up and down a river. They certainly have such a right in tidal waters. The right of soil in arms of the sea and public rivers must in all cases be considered as subject to the public right of navigation”

More recently Park J said, ‘There is a right to navigation over all tidal waters, even where at certain states of the tide the water may disappear from the particular place where the navigation is taking place.’

Interestingly, in 1990, Brotherton Vinelott J held that on a section of the river Derwent which was probably tidal there was no public right of navigation. This part of his judgement was effectively reversed by the parties to the action who, when the case came to the Appeal Court, stated that it was agreed by the parties that there was a right of navigation from Sutton to Stamford Bridge. No reasons were recorded. This would seem to mean that the decision of Vinelott J on this matter is void of any authority. As stated previously, no cases have been found which disputed the existence of a public right of navigation on tidal waters.

In Conclusion.

Hovercraft frustrate authorities due to their ability to operate at low water, over mudflats and to access areas they hadn’t ever considered would be available to recreational ‘boaters.’  That’s not our fault - or problem. We’re boats remember. We have a right which we exercise in accordance with the law and if they prevent such, they are potentially committing a criminal act. Back to what I said at the beginning of this article - behave responsibly, in accordance with the code of practice and I honestly cannot imagine any authority would wish to challenge such operation in court. However, this is our advice only – we’re not lawyers and this case has never been tried. To be fair, it’s never come even remotely close to that in 35 years of hovercrafting!

  • Stand firm!
  • You have a right of navigation on tidal water.
  • A bye-law is not a statutory law and cannot, therefore, remove that right.
  • It is uncontested that the right includes use of a vessel.
  • Hovercraft are legally categorised as vessels.  
  • The PRN extends to the foreshore and seabed.

 Other Matters

There’s two other issues that you need to consider. A harbour master can control access and behaviour within his area of authority. Nothing here is meant to suggest otherwise and you should and must act in accordance with local bye-laws. So, it may be that you need to observe speed limits or request permission to pass through the harbour to avoid conflict with (for instance) commercial traffic or lifeboat operations. Council’s may decide to restrict your ability to launch from their slipways. However, you have an ancillary right to exercise your PRN, and if they control the access and prevent you from launching, they are likely committing a criminal offence in doing so.

The other issue is your legal right to operate in protected areas such as RAMSAR sites, SSSI’s (and a million acronyms!) which are mostly administered by Natural England, and organisation with a huge history of Ultra Vires behaviour. We’ll look into that in a future article.

If, as a hovercraft operator, you do run into any issues where your PRN is challenged, do please let us know.

Happy Hovering!

 

Our MD, Emma Pullen, spoke last week at the launch of 'Women for Britain' - her is the transcript of her speech.

added by Emma on March 14, 2016 at 08:13

Emma spoke at the Launch of Women for Britain last week - alongside fellow businesswoman Paulette Furse, MP's and politcal fihures such as Priti Patel, Anne-Marie Trevalyn and Suzanne Evans.

Below is a transcript of her speech which was met by a standing ovation and a most complimentary article in the Daily Mail by Quentin Letts. The speech has since been reproduced in the Daily Express. Read on to understand why we at The British Hovercraft Company have given our support to a 'Brexit' so that we can better trade within a wider export market that EU laws currently make so difficult.

 

March 8th 2016.

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Emma Pullen, I'm a businesswoman operating a small manufacturing business in Kent and I want the UK to vote leave on June the 23rd.

Being asked to speak here today is no trial to me, as I'm passionately excited about this huge opportunity we have in Britain to take back control of our country, take our place on the world stage and build a bright future for British businesses to flourish outside of the EU.

So a little about me. I’m 36 years old, married with an 8 year-old daughter and live in the political hotspot of Thanet. I love my business and I find it utterly rewarding. I'm proud of what I do and I feel a huge responsibility knowing that 15 staff members are relying on me to find their wages each month. As a friend once said to me “Payday is a lot less exciting when you're the one doing the paying” but I wouldn't have it any other way – in fact after 5 years of working for myself, I think it's likely that I'm completely unemployable!

My business is a small manufacturing company, operating from a rented factory on a wartime industrial estate. Our draughty unit isn't a glamorous looking building, but it's big and it's cheap - and interesting things get built inside it!

80% of our production is export, but almost none of it goes to EU countries – partly because nobody seems to have any money but also because our product falls foul of an EU Directive. Whilst not actually banned, it makes selling and using them within the EU somewhat difficult and as a result, customers opt to spend their money elsewhere. 

So – what do we make in this big old factory that so offends the EU rule makers?

Well, the clue is that my factory is just a mile from the remains of the Pegwell Bay hoverport and my business is called The British Hovercraft Company!

Yes, I build hovercraft!

But not the cross channel hovercraft that once plied their trade to Calais. These are more modest craft used for recreational and commercial purposes such as survey work in tidal estuaries, super-cool tenders for luxury yachts and ice-rescue on frozen rivers.

It's certainly a niche market and a quintessentially British invention - it's creator a Norfolk broads boat builder called Sir Christopher Cockrell and I genuinely get a kick from the fact that in some small way we continue the tradition of this remarkable 1950's Boffin.  Our company name is one of the best decisions we ever made. I've been told by several foreign clients that the word British in the title says to them “Quality, Reliability and Trust' British engineering is admired around the world and that word – 'British' has played its part in establishing us as the world's leading small hovercraft company

By my company doesn't need the EU, in fact we would be much better off without it. For us to be free to fulfil our full potential, we need trade deals with countries that matter.  Wealthy countries, countries with growing economies, emerging nations & our friends in the commonwealth – we lose so many sales to these countries because the EU has failed to negotiate a suitable trade deal. Let me give you one recent example which is fresh in my mind from late last year.

An enquiry from a wealthy Brazilian businessman who wished to order 5 small hovercraft from us for a proposed driving activity centre in Sao Paulo. Purchase price, £50,000 – duty cost in Brazil £42,000. That’s an 80% duty! Needless to say, the deal didn't go ahead and there's been plenty of similar outcomes dealing with other non ‘EU approved’ nations.

Britain is not allowed to make it's own trade deals, and this prevents us from selling our products, bringing money into the UK, growing the business and employing more staff.

Ignore the scaremongering coming from the 'Remain' camp.  This is an incredible opportunity for UK business. One that we, of all nations can exploit to thrive in a fast-changing global marketplace. We can do this! We have the world's 5th largest economy, and we're the 11th biggest manufacturing nation on the planet. Britain supplies products & services that are in demand all around the world – we must make it cheaper and more straightforward for our trading partners to deal with us. 

But you know, there's other reasons aside from my business that move me to stand here today.

I've watched horrified at the mishandling of the Migrant crisis by the EU, seen the misery, economic damage & discord it has caused between the nations of Europe. I've watched it lead to the surge in support for far-right political parties in countries such as France, Greece and Finland.  I'll be honest – it scares me and I fear that the demands made of this country by the EU could eventually see similar parties gain momentum here in Britain.

It frustrates me to see the EU waste such vast sums of our money on ridiculous laws and directives, vanity projects and mind-boggling corruption. Every year we send billions of pounds to an organisation which hasn't been audited in over 20 years!  I'm absolutely at a loss to understand how the IN campaign can live with themselves in defending this. Let's save our money and spend it on hospitals, schools and the most vulnerable in society who have every right to expect help from their own country.  

The EU makes our laws, takes our money and does so with no accountability to the British Public. This is what we have our own MP's for - and if they get it wrong, we can kick them out after 4 years! We've done pretty well on our own since the Romans went home and we've written the democratic blueprint for much of the modern world. How dare Brussels steal that democracy away from us? British MEP's are powerless to influence the myriad of laws that issue forth from Brussels – they are defeated and outvoted over 86% of the time.

The Common Market was a great idea and if it had remained simply as a free market, I wouldn't be here today. But this power creep, this erosion of our democracy and sovereignty isn't what we signed up for.

Let me end by telling you why my heart as well as my head wants to leave the EU.

I'm extremely proud of my late father. He fought at Tobruk in 1941. He wasn't a hero, he was just a lad from Chatham who  knew what had to be done and got on with it in that stolid way his generation did. As a 20 year old Tommy, I doubt he ever even considered it, but he was fighting for #British Sovereignty and freedom. He suffered a lifetime of illness for that cause; many more paid the ultimate price on our behalf. I will never forget that and I see it as a dishonour to The Greatest Generation that everything they fought for is being eroded by our EU membership.

The British showed the world what we're made of in 1940, I believe that fire still beats in our hearts and I pray that June the 23rd will be the day when Britain once again becomes Great Britain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying a Hovercraft - Our 'Top-Ten' tips to avoid a costly mistake!

added by russ on February 3, 2016 at 11:15

Our Top Ten Tips for hovercraft buyers!

AND HOW TO AVOID THE RIPOFF MERCHANTS!

1.If you don’t know anything about them, do your research into hovercraft in general. Be sure about what they should be able to do, whether a hovercraft is what you want, how they work and join your local club. Hovercrafting is still a small (but growing) community and you can gather some very useful information and feedback.

2.Do not pay for a hovercraft if you can’t actually see a real one exists – especially do NOT pay a deposit on a hovercraft which is only available in CGI form!

3  Is the supplier a member of the HMA? Hovercraft Club? Chamber of Commerce? BMI?

4.See it in action, preferably drive it, and ask to see its capabilities – as described – demonstrated. Drive more than one model before making any decisions.

5.Ask to see videos of other – identical - craft in varied conditions (water, land, mud, one up/two up etc) and look online on Youtube specifically for the make you’re considering  – do you have plenty of confidence that WYSIWYG?

6.Does it come with a service manual, warranty, training and registration?

7.Does the manufacturer offer a Money Back Guarantee if the product doesn’t measure up to the  sales hype?

8.Does the manufacturer have agents and dealers? This is a good sign that they are established and serious.

9.Can you obtain references from dealers/customers?

10. Ask to see photos of the build as it happens, or visit the factory. Small hovercraft should be easily completed within 4-6 weeks – any longer should make you nervous if there's not a good reason!

Good luck with your purchase – just be careful with your money!


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