The Hovercraft Code of Practice is now law! CoP24.

added by russ on December 9, 2015 at 12:08

Great news received from the MCA today. The Hovercraft Code of Practice is now formally adopted and has been given the catchy title of CoP23. To us it remains the 'hovercraft code.' You can download it from the MCA website HERE

This 100 page document has been prepared over three years between the British Hovercraft Company, Griffon Hoverwork, the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association, Lloyds, the MCA and other contributors such as The Hovercraft Museum and The Hovercraft Club of Great Britain.

It really does change everyhting, small hovercraft can now be coded for commercial operations using clear, industry lead standards and methods. The first part of the hovercraft code explains what catagories hovercraft go into for each role - be it commercial hovercraft, rescue hovercraft, recreational hovercraft craft or even racing and 'days out' stag and hen driving experiences! It's all in there and clarifies exactly how hovercraft operators can get their hovercraft coded for commercial operations.

So, after three years work, and dozens of meetings and hundreds of hours of work behind the scenes, today has seen all the hard work come good. It opens the way for small hovercraft to really show their potential and step up for intertidal work such as survey, crew transfer, sampling, security and anything else where fast, safe intertidal transport is required.

We do now provide this service - hovercraft hire - through our subsidiary Coastal Transit Services www.coastaltransit.services

If you have any questions on the code, please don't hesitate to contact us!

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-hovercraft-code-of-practice-cop-23

British Hovercraft Company - Play Day for friends and family!

added by russ on June 23, 2015 at 09:12

It's been a pretty mental few months now and at times, the order book has rather outstripped production! But the team working in production have risen to the task brilliantly - working, quickly and efficiently and putting extra hours in as required to make sure that customer orders have been completed on time - we're are genuinely grateful for their efforts.

As a bit of a thank you, we decided to throw another one of our 'play days' where we invite the familes and friends to come along for a drive in the safety of our demo track in Sandwich. Some vigourous work with the mower, rakes and water pump (to refill the bone dry pond!) gave us a useable track, Emma's new exhibition trailer (of which she is rediculously proud and excited!) was pressed into use as the corporate centre (we're not quite Red Bull Formula One yet!) and a huge BBQ thrown together from an empty acetone drum, base made from an old trailer chassis and off-cuts of hovercraft fan ducts providing the grill!

All in all, a quick and dirty bit or organisation which worked out just great. I was responsible for the weather (which was gorgeous) and we got really lucky when a stunt plane turned up and put a spectacular display on for the show in the next field over... result! Nobody died of food poisoning, dozens of people drove a hover for the first time and the kids and dogs were completely exhausted when we finished up around 6pm.

A great day, thanks so much to all our staff for their hard work, and friends and family for coming along and helping out.

Here's a few photographs from the day, mostly courtesy of my Auntie Brenda!

 

 Awesome show - Pitt Special?

 The peace and tranquility of an English summers day!

 

I taught a lot of people to drive... successfully too! :-)

Gary soaking the girls. 6 years old and they love it...2 years old and they hate it!

Your never too old to try it - right uncle?

Emma's trailer..next stop the vinyl wrap ready for some shows.

And you're never too young either - 10 year old Kai drove the Snapper like a boss! ("Daaaad? Can I race one next year....?")

Demonstrations this weekend in Liverpool.

added by Emma on May 26, 2015 at 10:51

Venturing out of Kent, we're headed up for a play on the Mersey this weekend, a Hovercraft Club event, kindly hosted for the third year by the Liverpool Sailing Club  

Whilst we'll be off on a cruise or two, there will also be plenty of time to offer demonstrations to potential buyers - so do please get in touch if our 300 mile trip north makes things a little easier for you! You can email us : info@britishhovercraft.com or call 01304 619820

 

To show you exactly what it *wont* be like but hopefully to excite you to the idea - here's a photo of a Marlin taken ten years ago on a sunny beach in Melbourne, Australia. Smile

 

Medway & Swale Boating Association Meeting

added by russ on March 19, 2015 at 07:26

On behalf of the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, together with two other active local hovercrafters, we attended the MSBA meeting at the Kent Boat & Ski club at Cuxton last night.

As usual, it was an interesting meeting and the MSBA provides a powerful voice for river users to address issues that effect them. With representatives in the room from Medway Council, the police, RYA and various clubs and organisations, it is also a great chance to find out about proposed developments, works and strategies. For instance, the Medway, and likely the Swale, are to become MCZ's (Marine Conservation Zones) which is always a concern as granting this staus is often the 'thin end of a wedge' which may prevent sensible dedging for instance (obviously not a concern for a hovercrafter, but I like boats too!) There's some rumours about powerboat racing returning to the Medway, and we'll put our names forward to be part of the Medway River Festival in July. Last time we buzzed round for the crowds, we were a bit of a hit!

The Hovercraft Club of Great Britain organises around 8-10 cruises on the Medway, Swale and Thames each year. There's a representation on the MSBA by another hovercraft club, but the local rep doesn'w own a hovercraft or organise any events - so our advice is to join the HCGB - the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain (Which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year!) and contact us here at BHC to find out what's coming up on 'our patch' down here in the South East. Lots coming up, just get in touch to join in the fun!

 

HCGB : www.hovercraft.org.uk MSBA : www.msba.org.uk

Hoverclub / HCGB Cruising Dates 2015.

added by Emma on February 6, 2015 at 07:06

CRUISING DATES 2015!

All dates and locations are provisional, and weather dependent. You'll need to be an HCGB member to launch at these events (Just £27/year!) Swale launches carry a £10 launch fee and you'll be asked to sign a one-off disclaimer covering all events you attend.If you'd like to discuss additional events, by all means mail me.

If I don't have your email address and you wish to be kept up to date, please mail me at russ(at)britishhovercraft.com or call 01304 619820

 

February 21st - Lowest tide of the century! We're headed to the Thames for some Mudlarking (look it up!) by hovercraft. More mudlarking than cruising but a good pre-season shakedown!

March 14th - Swale/Medway/Thames LW 1130/HW 1800

April 25th - Probably Swale/Medway/Thames LW 1030/HW 1700

May 30th & 31st - Liverpool/River Mersey Cruise from Liverpool Sailing Club

July 11th - Swale/Medway/Thames LW 0730 /HW1400 (probably the overnight camping trip)

July 26th - Possible Dover Regatta demo race or alternative.

Wednesday August 19th - Thanet Coastal Cruise.

August 29-31st - Solent cruise, based at Gang Warily Race meeting.

More to follow into Autumn.

 

 

Hovercraft Cruises - Date for the diary late 2014.

added by russ on October 2, 2014 at 06:38

Amongst the many 'hovercraft hats' I wear is the slightly dodgy sounding 'cruising director' for Hovercraft Club of Great Britain events.

Following last night's South East branch meeting, we've put together some dates for some late season cruises as below.

As usual - all hovercraft are welcome as long as they are reliable and safe in an uncontrolled (and demanding) marine environment. These are club events, not strictly Flying Fish ones but you'll need to join the HCGB to come along.

Saturday 4th October 2014 - Launching Gillingham Strand

Saturday 1st November - Long Reach Ski Club

Saturday 29th November - Long Reach Ski Club

Friday 26th December - Boxing Day cruise. Probabaly a 'round Thanet' keep-warm, pub-based cruise launching from Sandwich, Kent.

All dates are weather dependant - please contact me for more details of you'd like to come along.

Download the CRUISING GUIDE :    CRUISING INFORMATION.pdf (194.46 kb)

 

 

 

European Hovercraft Racing from Towcester Race Course......Grrrrr!

added by russ on September 24, 2014 at 04:18

Well, that went well. Or Not.

Having been rather too buried under customers hovercraft during 2014, I hadn't managed to get back racing this season.

My new Cobra Formula 2 hovercraft was sporting a rather sexy Rotax 453 two-stroke engine (yes, yes, I know....!) in place of the hugely powerful but too heavy GSX-R600 Suzuki 4 Stroke. Lift system was carried forward from the previous craft -a fter all, it hovers beautifully and never lets me down (A Simonini Evo2 paramotor engine, it even has the luxury of electric strart!) But as the last race meeting of the year was at my favourite track, and was a European (more/better craft and top level racing) I decided we'd finish the Cobra off and have a bit of fun.

A few frantic nights work and we were ready.

After all, we were also holding the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association AGM (The HMA - more about that later) at the same venue on the thursday before, so I kind of spotted a sneaky day-off on the friday. It all fitted (actually Friday was spent smashing posts into the ground and building the course so that bit didn't work out!) but it was nice to be there in plenty of time.

A brief test of the new Rotax 440cc engine showed it pulled like a train....it passed the float test (always a nervous time for a fat bloke like me!) so I joined the back of the grid. No practice, I wasn't ready. In the race, it was clear the engine needed some set-up, when it did pull through into the rev range and the power valves opened... it was superb! But most of the time  - it didn't!

Anyway, finished the race pretty much last but with a plan and after a bit of tinkering tried again. This improved things a bit in race 2.... until the poreviously faultless lift engine cut. Dead. Just like that.

On a pretty much blind brow.

About 5 seconds after I'd overtaken Bananaman.

The ensuing impact wasn't his fault - it was mine for stopping in a damn stupid place.

In true 'hovercraft impact' style, his craft lost a couple of segments - the back of mine was trashed. The hitter always suffer much less damage than the hitee - all he had to do was push the rudders into the path of the blades and The 110bhp contained in the blades blew apart, did some severe damage, bent the fan frame and ripped out every last flow straightener and cone. The good news is that the hull is untouched and the running gear is fine - in any case the fan frame was temporary so thats no big deal.

Oops.

The message my friends is - don't rush building things. I should have started earlier and taken my time. Of course, the engine started up straight after the race, but somethign meant it failed on the day and mor etesting - in fact any testing - would likely have found it.

But - it was a great meeting, caught up with some friends I haven't seen for a while and superb racing from a challenging but very fast course.

And just to prove that there's always someone who has a worse weekend than you....this clip is from the start of a Formula One Race. Conrad Beale rolled his craft going into the first corner and was very, very lucky not to be collected by Greg Lallemand who was right behind him. Conrad ended up in hospital for observation and brain scans (a bit of a surprise as I'd always thought Formula One Hovercarft drivers had no brains!) but was released a day later. No doubt he feels pretty second hand, and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

Thanks to Ross Hammond for some top-quality HD coverage!

Ross Hammond _ Facebook.mp4 (5.80 mb)

So - it'll soon be christmas which means May bank holidays not that far away - Best get on with mending it I guess!

COASTAL TRANSIT SERVICES - A NEW SERVICE FOR BUSINESSES WORKING IN INTERTIDAL AREAS.

added by russ on September 23, 2014 at 08:01

Survey and monitoring operations in intertidal areas have always represented a challenge. At best walking across tidal flats carrying heavy equipment can be hard, slow, dirty work -  at worst, soft mud and fast tides can make it a lethal business.

The Solution

However - a practical and cost-effective solution is finally available. In June this year, the regulations governing the use of small hovercraft for UK commercial operations were substantially revised, after UK manufacturers Flying Fish Hovercraft & Griffon Hoverwork spent two years working with the MCA to produce a 'Hovercraft Code of Practice' (HCoP).

This means that small hovercraft can be used in limited commercial operations without any requirement for coding, as long as it is built, equipped and operated in accordance with the HCoP. To that end, Flying Fish designed and produced a new model of hovercraft specifically aimed at intertidal marine work such as sampling, survey and ecological monitoring in environmentally sensitive areas such as estuaries, foreshores and mudflats.  

The MACV can travel over any surface. Any depth of water, mudflats and sand can be traversed in complete safety with up to 4 persons on board. Noise levels and economy are exceptional, and the MACV has zero environment impact as it exerts less pressure on the ground than 12" of tide. Research as shown that birds are no more disturbed by the craft than any other vessel.  The speed of the MACV means that projects can be completed much more quickly and 'between the tide' times are extended without risk, saving time and money.

Cost Effective Rental

In response to adoption of the new code, Flying Fish have launched a new service 'Coastal Transit Services' to provide MACV craft and skippers on either long or short term hire anywhere in the UK or EU. Hire costs may vary based on location and length of deployment, but are quite modest in the region of £700.00/day including skipper and fuel  As manufacturers, CTS have full support and backup for their service, and skippers are all qualified to required standards as well as having a minimum of 5 years experience in small craft.

Recent work has been undertaken with a survey company on the tidal Thames, and a University in the west country with both organisations declaring themselves delighted with the comfort, safety and cost savings.

MACV's are also available for sale to organisations with more regular work in intertidal areas. Built and equipped to MCA specification, together with manufacturers conformity statement from £25,000.00+VAT.

For more details, visit www.coastaltransit.services or call us on (01304) 619820

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

 


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