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!

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.

We now have the go ahead from the MCA - commercial operations for small hovercraft are a 'go!'

added by russ on June 20, 2014 at 09:00

After some two years of negotiations with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), we have finally been given the formal confirmation in writing - that Ultralight Hovercraft (up to 500kgs) may engage in certain commercial activity without a requirement for coding/certification.

 Not to be too crass about it - this means that using small hovercraft for paying work is now possible!

 To clarify the situation, I've bullet-pointed the situation below.

 

 Uses / Operations

Survey, inspection & maintenance.

Mud & Water Sampling

Geo-technics

Standby & Support

Security & Patrol

Weed Spraying

Nature monitoring/bird counts etc

Any application not involving paying passengers.

 

Operating Areas & Restrictions

Intertidal Areas

Estuaries and Rivers

Tidal Mudflats

Saltings & Marshes

Up to 1/2 a mile from the shore (beyond catagorised waters)

Within 3 miles of a safe haven (obviously, 80% of beaches are a safe haven in a hovercraft!)

Daylight/favourable weather.

 

Hovercraft Specification

Less than 500kgs unladen weight.

Built in compliance with the Hovercraft Code of Practice (HCoP)

Certified to be compliant by manufacturer.

Maximum of four persons (no paying passengers)

 

Operator's Qualifications

RYA Powerboat 2 or equivalent (two day course/exam)

 

Valid From

 June 19th 2014

Hovercraft Availability

The new Coastal-Pro is due for release in approximately 4 weeks and has been designed specifically for commercial applications and of course, to comply with the new HCoP.

We do still have a one off - the last of the current Coastal-Pro models available at a bargain price - so be quick if you're interested at £13,500.00+VAT!

This is a huge step forward for the industry and a fabulous opportunity for those who wish to be 'in at the beginning' and exploit the commercial opportunity it presents. There is genuinely now a viable, safe and cost effective solution to operations on mud flats, saltings, marshlands, beaches - with operating costs LOWER than equivalent conventional boats. Flying Fish have been very much at the forefront during the two years developing the HCoP and obviously we're delighted that it has finally been adopted by the MCA.

If you'd like a PDF copy of the HCoP, or wish to know more, please call or email Russ at Flying Fish.

Email :               russ@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk

Telephone :        01304 619820

 

 

 

 

Some of the historical 'haunts' on the River Medway.

added by Emma on March 20, 2014 at 07:14

The Medway is a spectacular river for those interested in maritime history. Last weekend, we used small hovercraft to explore some of the more interesting sites. There's still lots to see in the tidal area leading right up to Allington Lock. Check back for more updates as we explore this fascinating intertidal world!

 

View the video on  Youtube


www.flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk
0044 (0)1304 619820

Happy St.Patricks Day!

added by Emma on March 17, 2014 at 05:46

A pretty substantial road-trip last weekend, saw this Volantis Extreme III delivered to Cork in Southern Ireland - just in time for St Patricks Day (and some 6 Nations celebrations...grumble grumble!)

Fully specified with a 50bhp Rampage, LED lighting, complimenting chrome kit and two-tone metal-flake coachwork..,. this is a colour scheme we've never done before and will soon be seen exploring the southern coast of the Emerald Isle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Here we are again? Still no hovercraft presence in UK flood relief efforts....

added by Emma on February 12, 2014 at 07:25

Yet again, parts of Britain find themselves underwater.

  • Environment Agency has urged people to stay away from the sea and rivers because they risk being killed 
  • Almost 300 flood alerts and warnings in England and Wales, with torrential rain expected to batter South first
  • Met Office warns rain could give way to ice and snow as bitterly cold Arctic air brings freezing temperatures
  • Third death last night as 47-year-old man's mobility scooter falls into river in Oxford off flooded pathway
  • The Met Office has issued a rare red warning for gusts of up to 100mph in west Wales and north-west England.
  • There are sixteen severe flood warnings in Berkshire, Surrey and Somerset.
 
Yet again, Flying Fish have sent numerous emails and letters and offers of help - to the RNLI, to Somerset Council, to COBRA, to the head of the environment agency Paul Leinster. We've even gone as far as contacting the offices of the Home Secretary and Prime Minister to offer our services in the flood relief efforts on the River Thames  and Somerset Levels. We've sent literally dozens of emails and not had a single response, just one or two replies fobbing us off!

Now I know these are busy folks but really - if ever the hovercraft was to prove its worth, these flood conditions are what they were designed for. Able to easily travel over any depth of water, irrespective of the gate/log/sunken car/road sign inches below the surface - hovercraft are safer, faster and more use in flood conditions than any other vehicle. When we get enquiries from people wanting to buy hovercraft for a purpose better suited to a boat, I've always advised them to use a boat... hovercraft aren't 'magic' - they do have their limitations and in many environments, there are other amphibious vehicles that may be more suitable (who didn't love the 'Quadski' seen this week on Top Gear for instance!)

But this isn't one - this is hovercraft territory! To not exploit a great British invention at a time like this is madness. 

In Australia in 2010, we helped out the SES (State Emergency Services) and they were 'wowed' by the capabilities of our small hovercraft (their own boat has caught its propeller on that gate post on Day One... result - no more boat!) and we ran round with medics, delivered insulin and provided transport through some terribly demanding conditions. It was an eye opener and our offer of help is made with that knowledge.

Look at this... What's more sensible, safer and quicker....

This?

 

 

Or this? (Australia 2010)

 

 


So, come on folks - we have two craft equipped, on standby with experienced pilots - , ready to assist in flood relief operations.

All we need is your call!

Our numbers (01304) 619820 and we're awaiting your call.


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