The Medway & Swale Boating Association (MSBA) Meeting at Kent Boat & Ski Club

added by russ on September 3, 2014 at 09:10

 

 

It's fair to say I live and breathe hovercraft! Apart from running Flying Fish alongside my wife Emma, I'm also secretary of Hovercraft Manufacturers Association, Chairman of SE branch of Hovercraft Club of Great Britain (HCGB), and 'Cruising Director' for the HCGB (which frankly, sounds a bit weird.) I also race in the national championships and still thoroughly enjoy taking a hovercraft out for a spin on my favourite patch - the River Medway & Swale.

 So it was with some interest that I stumbled across the Medway & Swale Boating Association (MSBA) a little while ago.

To paraphrase their aims (from their website) :  “To promote and protect all waterborne sports and pastimes on the tidal Medway and Swale.”

The hovercraft community has been using Medway and Swale for a very long time, why wouldn’t we be part of the MSBA for the modest joining fee?  If you've seen any of my videos from Hoverclub events, you'll understand why - it's very tidal, loads of mudflats and shallow water to explore - and an amazing history with Napoleonic forts and WWI shipwrecks to visit.

So I decided to join up on behalf of the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain. As I'm involved with organising club events 8-10 times  a year, which usually launch into the Swale at the Long reach Ski Club, I felt it was important that our sport was represented within this new Organsiation.

Last night, along with Carl & Geoff, two of our growing list of active local enthusiasts, we went along to the Kent Boat & WaterSki club at Cuxton to see what it's all about. We were made very welcome and met loads of interesting folks who work and play on the Medway & Swale. The MSBA looks a very valuable resource and a great way of ensuring that the river is used responsibly - but that we water users don’t see more of our rights diminish as a result of increasing legislation and the 'environmental takeover' of the seashores. It was an interesting meeting and I'm pleased the Hoverclub now has a representation on it.

One issue was the contents of some previous minutes which indicated that reports were being made to Peel Ports (the harbour authorities) of illegal hovercraft launches from Gillingham Strand. I had to question this as the minutes seemed to indicated that the MSBA agreed with these complaints. The feller who's made these reports is a member and has my respect for saying 'that was me' and explaining why he made these reports. Basically, his position is that as somebody who runs a business on the Medway, he's sick of seeing so many laws and rules flouted by water users  and not being enforced. I can see that - if you're going to have rules, then enforce them. We explained that hovercraft are not PWC's - legally they are boats and the MCA categorises them as such and are therefore entirely legal to launch at Gillingham Strand. Further discussion centred on usage and speed limits - explaining that hovercraft create less wash at speeds over approx 8 knots which is the approximate speed where the hull is completely out of the water, resulting in no wash! In our experience, most harbour masters understand that and allow a small amount of leeway on the tightest speed limits - after all most speed  limits are made largely to prevent dangerous wash in busy and confined moorings.

And one point to remember. In the UK, you have a common law right to navigate on tidal waters. Restrictions may be made, permissions may be required, but you do have that right and it cannot be removed with a byelaw. Just remember that if you are ever told otherwise.

Bearing in mind that there have been literally hundreds of launches and hovercraft operating in the areas, to the best of my knowledge there have been absolutely no accidents involving hovercraft, very few breakdowns or recoveries and to the best of my knowledge and no prosecutions or charges brought against owners.

Statistically, hovercraft are the safest  means of passenger transport and its to my own personal delight that this amazing record also applies to the recreational hovercraft.

Hovercraft have considerable environmental advantages compared to other powered vessels.

  • They do not pollute the water like a PWC or boats - the exhaust is vented to atmosphere not into the water.
  • Recreational craft achieve approximately 20mpg, so use much less fuel than a boat of equivalent size.
  • They do not create any wash so they cause no damage to river banks
  • They have no protrusions underwater, so cannot strike marine mammals such as porpoises, dolphins or manatees. The lack of propeller  or jetdrive also means they do not damage the seabed in shallow water.
  • They exert 75 times less pressure on the ground than 12" of tide, or 100 times less than a man walking.

Hovercraft do have a rep for being noisy but modern craft using small commercial spec air-cooled engines are around a quarter of the noise of earlier two-stroke models.  The noise is directional in nature and due to the low frequency dies away very quickly. At 100m it is not any more intrusive than many other water vehicles.

One key point is that recreational hovercraft use tends to be 'get in and go' and are used in much the same manner as many people use a rib or small boat.  Club events are usually organised so that the group travels to an objective. Our last four hovercraft club cruises this year covered 23/32/50 and 45 miles - we don’t just go round and round in circles near the shore.

Being part of the Medway & Swale Boating Association looks to me like it will be a valuable and useful part of organising events and continuing the growth of the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain - and our thanks for allowing us to be part of it.

 

Contacts

Medway & Swale Boating Association

Hovercraft Club of Great Britain

Flying Fish Hovercraft

 

We're back racing in two weeks.

added by russ on August 29, 2014 at 05:40

Well, its that time of the year again!

Our new Cobra Formula 2 Hovercraft is pretty much ready, so we're off racing at Towcester Race Course, Northampton, in two weeks time. This time, we've dropped the stupidly-powerful-but-bloody-heavy GSXR600 engine in favour of a 440cc Snowmobile Engine from a 2007 Lynx MXZ Z440. Roughly 100bhp but 32kgs... should be quick but it'll take a lot of sorting out and setting up. 

We'll also have the new Coastal-Pro there, so if you'd like tocome along and see it, you'll be very welcome.

Just to whet your appetite, here's a taster - our Cobra F2 racing from Prudhomat, France in 2013.

Three more Minnow Hovercraft leave tomorrow!

added by Emma on March 13, 2014 at 11:52

I'm pretty sure my toys weren't this much fun when I was a lad - a hoop - and a stick if I was lucky.

Anyway, three more Minnow Hovercraft leave us tomorrow for their lucky new owners. Enjoy yourself lads!

 

WANT TO WORK IN THE HOVERCRAFT INDUSTRY?

added by Emma on January 2, 2014 at 05:38

WANT TO WORK IN THE HOVERCRAFT INDUSTRY?

WANTED : General Manager / Accounts Manager for SE Kent based manufacturing company. Flying Fish manufactures around 100 small hovercraft each year, employs 20 people and exports to a dozen countries from our factory in Sandwich. In  order to achieve consistent, targeted, production deadlines, we need an experienced full-time manager to join the management team,  overseeing all aspects of production staff management including fibreglass hull manufacture, engineering and fitting out. In addition, the manager will be required to administer company book keeping and accounts, including VAT reconciliation and filing, deal with suppliers and customers and have knowledge of Quickbooks or similar accounts software.

This role will suit a mature and experienced person with a working mechanical knowledge, a management and accounts background and the ability to motivate and organise staff.
 
Flying Fish is a small but expanding company, and this is a key role - so  you'll need to display a flexible, committed and proactive approach which can assist the management team at the highest level.

The role is 40 hours per week, plus extra hours as required in busy times and the successful candidate will start at the end of January.

For more details, please send your CV to Emma or Russ at Flying Fish Hovercraft,  via email : russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk

Update to the MCA/Hovercraft Manufacturers/Hovercraft Club revisions to small hovercraft legislation

added by Emma on December 16, 2013 at 08:48

The continuing work on the new 'Hovercraft Code of Practice' was presented to the MCA last week at a very constructive meeting chaired by Simon Milne, manager of the MCA's Vessel Standards Branch. The meeting was attended by John Gifford and Russ Pullen from the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association (HMA,) and representatives from Lloyds, Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, The Hovercraft Trust and commercial hovercraft operators, Intertidal and Ecospan.

The draft code was warmly received by the MCA, with just a few relatively minor changes and clarifications being required. These changes will be submitted in the new year and it looks very much like the code will be usable from as early as April 2014 - though the actual legislation may take some while. What is clear is that the basic structure of the proposed code will be adopted - currently the categories that concern us here at Flying Fish are the Ultra-Light and Light hovercraft.

In short, 'Ultra-Light' hovercraft will be henceforth excluded from any MCA legislation when used for commercial (non-passenger) operations. Operating parameters will be tightly set - this is not an open door to operate in a 'cavalier' manner without any rules, but more of an acceptance that a small hovercraft operating on the shoreline is more akin to a piece of equipment than a marine vessel. Health & Safety legislation obviously dictates safe operations, and the code makes extensive recommendations as to construction/training etc, plus operators will still need a permit for most work. But this is a huge step forward and we're expecting UK sales of Coastal-Pro's to boom in 2014 as it's now a much clearer and more straightforward procedure to use a small hovercraft for commercial purposes.

The Code even extends to clarification of recreational, leisure and racing hovercraft with recommended technical standards for manufacturers and builders to consider. Obviously, we will ensure all Flying Fish hovercraft are compliant.

'Light Hovercraft' is the category that the BBV500 will fit into, safety, construction and operating parameters are wider reaching but it means there is a clear route for commercial operators to use a small hovercraft for passenger rides, taxi's etc.

Categories

Ultra Light : Up to 500kgs, maximum 4 Persons, no passengers.

Light : Up to 1000kgs, maximum 8 Persons including passengers.

Small : Over 1000kgs, less than 24m and up to 12 passengers.

Large : Adheres to the High Speed Code.

Below is a link to the draft code as presented. If it's of interest, do please take a look, but as stated above, it is subject to revision and cannot be considered as more than 'work in progress' at the present time.

Hovercraft Code of Practice Draft Revision 7 (08.11.13).pdf (1.88 mb)

If you'd like to know more, please don't hesitate to contact us. Email russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk or call on 01304 619820.

 

 

 

Update to the MCA/Hovercraft Manufacturers/Hovercraft Club revisions to small hovercraft legislation

added by Emma on July 10, 2013 at 04:45

As agreed during our meeting with the MCA back in May, earlier this week, we held a meeting for representatives from the industry and the hovercraft club to start on the production of a code for hovercraft for the 'Ultralight, Light and Small Craft.' The meeting, kindly hosted and held at Griffon Hoverworks in Southampton, has produced a framework with several areas that need further work which will be looked at over the next 3 to 4 weeks. Thereafter, the working documentation will be circulated to all 'interested' parties and the draft submitted to the MCA in preparation for the meeting scheduled for September.

This work will result in a safe and defined set of relevant regulations pertaining to the operation of small hovercraft. And that is probably the most significant and exiting step forward for the hovercraft industry in 40 years.

Why?

Our current Marlin and Coastal-Pro hovercraft fit into the 'Ultralight' category and the aim here is to basically remove them from the requirements of the High-Speed-Code (HSC.) This means that commercial (non-passenger) operations in coastal/categorised waters using small hovercraft will be achievable - whereas currently, it is almost impossible to achieve a 'coding' allowing this. So, survey work, weed spraying, bird counts, sampling and geo-technical work, UXO exploration, TV and filming work etc all become possible.

The craft will still need to conform to a set of regulations and be equipped to a safe level - but the MCA have wisely ruled that small hovercraft working on mudflats, estuaries etc bear more relevance to work equipment than a 'vessel.' Crew will need relevant experience and the skipper basic maritime qualifications. The final specifications and  ruling is still to be decided but this is the 'bones' of it.

Moving to larger craft such as our BBV500, the small craft category will allow craft to be prepared and used for commercial reward (ie beach rides/tours/public transfer etc) but craft will need to be equipped to a higher - but now realistic - level.

As I said above, this is a huge step forward and a very exciting development which will really open the door to hovercraft operations in a commercial environment. Whilst there's a long way to go yet (legislation won't be a 5 minute job!) we're now well on track!

 

 

Formation of the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association (HMA)

added by Emma on March 12, 2013 at 11:17

Dear All

It is with enormous pleasure that I can announce that the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association was formed on Friday March 8th 2013.

The aims of the Association are to develop and mature the hovercraft industry, promoting their use in recreational and commercial roles, represent the industry to the media and legislative authourities and work together to ensure that our members produce safe hovercraft.

It is open to all full-time, professional hovercraft manufacturers all around the world and expressions of interest are encouraged from companies who could not make the inaugural meeting. An associate membership is available to manufacturers of craft exclusively for racing. The initial fee for each company is £200.00 (£100 Associate) to cover the initial set up costs (website/design/PO box etc) but it is anticipated that subsequent years shall be considerably less.

The contents of a draft constitution were discussed and will be made available in revised form in due course, as will full meeting notes.

The officers elected were as follows.

 

Chairman : John Gifford

Secretary / Treasurer : Russ Pullen

 

Formative Members

Norfolk Hovercraft

Vortex Hovercraft

Flying Fish

HovPod

K&M Products (Eagle Hovercraft)

BBV Hovercraft

Flying Fish Hovercraft

 

Work will now commence on website, logo, organisation and administrative work.

The HMA would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the President of the  'World Hovercraft Organisation,' Tony Drake, for his kind offer to chair the meeting. The meeting ran efficiently and was kept firmly to the Agenda for which we were all grateful. The HMA hopes to strengthen and develop its ties with the WHF, EHF and HCGB Organisations as well as  and enthusiasts, distributors and other operators.

For more information, contact the HMA via secretary, Russ Pullen on (01304) 619820 or russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk


Search


Categories

None


Tags


Archive


Recent Posts