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)

 

 

 

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.

Hod Pod's 'Buyers Guide' - What a load of Nonsense!

added by russ on July 7, 2014 at 07:27

 

 

Buy a Hovercraft

An insinuating, somewhat snide 'buyers guide' clearly aimed at The British Hovercraft Company by UK manufacturer ‘HovPod!’ We were mailed the link by one of our customers who thought this thinly disguised ‘buyers guide’ was anything but impartial advice!

 

We don’t usually respond to the petty digs of other manufacturers but this one goes a bit far and contains many inaccuracies and half-truths so in the best spirit of the Tesco/Asda war, BHC would like to take the opportunity to state the other side of the argument. But seriously HovPod,  man up if you have something to say to us! We've offered time and again to put a craft up against the HovPod for a ‘back-to-back’ review. What a great read that would be…

 

The world's best-selling personal hovercraft.

-vs-

The worlds heaviest personal hovercraft.

 

But whenever we do, the HovPod marketing machine suddenly becomes a shrinking violet and goes all quiet and shy!

 

Oh well, read on and judge for yourself, and whether you agree (or even care!) or not, bear in mind that we at least have the minerals to answer our critics directly - rather than hide behind  statements like ‘Some manufactures…’

 

We have The bold statements below are from the HovPod buyers guide, the italics, our response to some wild, incorrect and sometimes, plain-silly statements.

 

Here we go then….

If you only ask 6 things, be sure to ask suppliers the questions below:

 

1/. Hovercraft Construction

Hovercraft are weight sensitive, so manufacturers reduce weight wherever possible – some glass fibre hovercraft are very lightweight, the construction is much thinner than boat GRP, so may not last many seasons if you intend to race hovercraft.

Cruising hovercraft tend to be more durable but heavier, so decide how you will use before you choose your hovercraft. HDPE is far stronger than glass fibre, and extremely buoyant.

Question – what is the hull made from, how durable is it, if I damage the hull, is it game over? How much will it cost to repair? How will it handle ice?

Answer - Well, at least we start with some agreement! I agree with the comment "Hovercraft are weight sensitive" – In fact better than agreeing with it, we actually apply this principle. The writer of this 'guide' conveniently misses the fact that HDPE (which the HovPod is made from) is almost unbelievable heavy. The Marlin III and HovPod are roughly the same size but the HovPod is 415kgs against the Marlin's 225kgs! That’s like having two fully grown men on board before you even start! This is simply way too heavy for a hovercraft of this size and as a consequence, performance is never going to be adequate. One HovPod model uses 120bhp – yet our 35bhp craft outperforms it! All HovPods need big power just to make a pretence of working - so in goes a raucous 2 stroke motor, loads of expensive fuel and reduced range! Physics apply to hovercraft too, they're not magic! HDPE isn’t stiff like a Marlin, it’s just a bit ‘droopy’ (see 1m10sec) which means the shafts cannot run straight and fans are likely to rub on the duct - this inevitably leads to a regular and embarrassing failure to perform (although we're sure this isn’t the case with the HovPod.) Aesthetically, HDPE has a horrible 'orange peel' finish, so it cannot ever be fully cleaned of mud, dust or sand - so HDPE will never look good again once it's been used, especially in mud or sand - no, HDPE is best used for public toilets – another popular application.

GRP works beautifully if  laid up by professionals with industry/hovercraft knowledge (which is why 99% of manufacturers use it!) Add in some strategically placed Kevlar (you know, bullet-proof vests!) and core material for buoyancy and stiffness - you have a strong, stiff hull structure which looks beautiful and cleans up like new.

 

2/. Hovercraft Engines

Some suppliers try to maintain that 2 stroke engines are louder than 4 stroke engines; actually most hovercraft noise emits from the fan blades tips and larger ducts are more air efficient than smaller duct sizes, less powerful engines need to rotate the blades faster to get more air throughput. Diesel engines are only found on larger hovercraft, they do not have the power to weight characteristics required for smaller hovercraft. Some suppliers invalidate engine warranty by modifying the engine to get maximum energy output, engine manufactures don’t like their products running on high stress all day, who does!

Question – is full engine manufacturer’s warranty offered with this hovercraft?

Answer - No engine manufacturer warrants engines for hovercraft use (salt-water you see…) so I can  help with this one. 'No!' The question is, does the hovercraft manufacturer offer one - after all, they should understand the installation and prepare the engine for marine operations.

Anyway, welcome to the world of fantasy. A world where 2 strokes are no louder than 4 strokes? Here’s a fact : 2 Strokes are louder than 4 strokes, due to the way the engines work. The reliability of microlight-derived two strokes in a marine environment is awful - any saltwater on a plug lead or air filter and you've pretty much guaranteed you're coming to standstill (been there, done that – we moved on from two-strokes 12 years ago and never looked back!) Less powerful engines do not mean a faster fan and more noise, it's strange that a manufacturer would spout such total nonsense! The variables are : Speed of rotation, size of fan (same on both craft), the pitch of, and number of blades but it would appear that the writer of this 'buyers guide' doesn’t know much about integrated hovercraft. The overweight HovPod needs 12 blades in order to lift which reduces 'push' - the Marlins use 6 and is on full lift at 2000rpm, the HovPod uses 12 and just lifts at 5000rpm! (See picture)

No, the only reason you'd use a 2-stroke is because the basic hovercraft is so damn heavy it needs big power from the lightest engine. But the downsides of 2-strokes are enormous which is why they are now largely defunct in any modern vehicle. Think about it - would you rather have….

A screaming, noisy, highly stressed and noisy two stroke drinking £30 in fuel every hour and needs refilling every 45 minutes (HCGB Magazine test) - or….

A quiet, low-revving reliable four-stroke sipping no more than £10/hour in fuel and running for 3 hours between refuels. An engine designed to run quietly all day, with no fuss.   

Reliability, limited range, noise and pollution - no wonder that two-strokes are banned in so many countries and haven’t been seen in cars, motorbikes or jetskis for many years.

The two-stroke is (sorry to get all ‘Sex-in-the-City’ here) "Sooo last century!"

Alternatively you can order your HDPE hovercraft with a 120bhp 4-Stroke, turbocharged Weber engine.  I’ll say that again… 120bhp! In a 3m hovercraft… why for God’s sake…why??? How can that possibly be necessary? A Marlin would be lethal with 120bhp, our 50bhp motor is fast enough for pretty much any petrol head!

3/. Hovercraft Safety

To get over this power inadequacies, some suppliers decide not to fit a rear fan guard to allow cleaner air-throughput for greater efficiency – you need to decide if a rear fan a sensible safety feature when kids are around, or not. Fans spin at 2000 rpm – kids might wish to learn play guitar as they get older. In rare cases, fingers have become detached, there was even one fatality recorded in New Zealand – self builder, no fan protection, front or rear.

Question – Is a rear fan guard fitted? Or just a warning sticker? Younger kids don’t read so well.

Answer- Oh dear! The Maritime & Coastguard Agency published a 'Hovercraft Code of Practice' in 2016 with no requirement for REAR guarding (but closely specified front guarding), plus The Hovercraft Club of Great Britain and Hoverclub UK all accept that a rear guard is not necessary provided other methods are used to reduce the potential risk posed by the fan assembly (including cone/duct/stators/rudders/safety stickers etc) Presumably the scaremongering writer of the buyers guide would also like to also enclose helicopter fan blades and the bottom of car engine bonnet compartments – you know, just in case our little guitar prodigy climbs underneath it and shoves a highly skilled hand into the fan belt.  Front guards are a different matter altogether and all HMA* manufacturers fit a protective guard of approved design. rear guards are not necessary, and they simply add to the cacophony of noise a 2-stroke motor makes.

4/. Hovercraft Plowing

Some hovercraft plow in on water – plowing refers to sudden deceleration which might cause the hovercraft to spill contents over the handlebars, passengers and all. Some suppliers reduce plowing tendencies through design, other suppliers say – “hovercraft plow, live with that”.

Question – Does the hovercraft have a design to reduce the risk of plowing?

Answer - Well, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I can tell you that BHC Hovercraft have been designed to run fast on water in all conditions with good handling characteristics. Have we 100% eliminated it? Nope, but then again - nor did they on the cross-channel SRN4's! A good skirt design is crucial as is a decent, non-peaky power delivery and easy handling (ie less weight allows the craft to recover from a partial plough-in.) It really isn’t the issue some would have you believe.

However, if you raise the skirt pressure high enough (for instance by making the hovercraft really, really heavy for its size…) and really, really slow, then the chances of  a plough-in are reduced.  'Nuff said?

5/. Hovercraft Hump

Particularly so in shallow water, hovercraft need maximum power to get airborne – to get over the pressure wave all hovercraft create. Hovercraft suppliers may fudge their specifications to mislead people, since it is not widely understood, that hovercraft can pick up 50% more weight when starting on land. We have seen some suppliers showing 4 or 5 people skimming over a puddle – this is misleading, since the issue only involves starting on water – if you stop and cannot get back on that air cushion, it could be a long swim home. You must drill down to ask this question -

Question – What weight can be lifted when starting from an on-water start?

Answer - This made us laugh here at BHC. The pithy little comments about "4 or 5 people skimming over a puddle" refers to THIS VIDEO in which our Coastal-Pro (the previous single engine design) is shown buzzing round with 6 adults on board (described as 'just for kicks' in the caption, we actually allow ourselves to have fun with our hovercraft and push them way beyond what we claim in our literature - to see what the limits are and drive development!) But keep watching, we clearly show it easily going over hump in our 'puddle' with three on board. Our actual claims for 'hump' performance made on our website and in our literature is 200kgs (Marlin) and 300kgs (Coastal Pro Rampage) or 350kgs (CP Toyota)

And… I'd say that people in glass houses etc…this is a HovPod attempting to get 'over hump' VIDEO (Turn your volume down before watching!) with one person on board! Yet HovPod claim something ridiculous for their already ‘battleship-heavy’ craft - 375kgs!

 

I'm so confident with the claims Flying Fish make that we recently introduced a Money Back Guarantee  if performance is not as claimed.

So that's that one 'drilled-down' then.

 

6/. Hovercraft Skirt Material

Hovercraft skirts can be designed as one bag, or many sections – multiple sections are better since if damage occurs, it is cheaper to replace one section than the whole bag skirt. Neoprene coated nylon will deteriorate when expose to UV (sunlight) Hypalon tears too easily, we recommend polyurethane coated anti-rip nylon weave.

Question - How long will the skirts last? What are the replacement costs? How much will shipping cost?

Answer - Not much to say here - other than we've been using neoprene coated nylon (to our own secret recipe - it’s a bit like the Colonels chicken, there’s a little something else in there we can’t tell you about!) and have found no other material lasts as well. Of course, if you had a particularly heavy hovercraft (which didn’t lift properly as a result) then you may find a heavyweight material made of what is basically a RIB tube material, may last a little longer. Skirt life and performance does rather depend on whether your hovercraft actually hovers! The HovPod uses 375gsm material, over twice as thick as that on the BHC hovercraft…and the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain review of it said “lt feels like driving a car with the handbrake on.”

Conclusion

The bottom line is that a personal hovercraft built out of HDPE plastic will never perform as well, or as reliably as a GRP one. It’s too heavy and floppy - and because of that, a hovercraft made of HDPE is compromised right from the outset. Two stroke engines suck for hovercraft/marine applications.

Here at BHC we prove our commitment to our deigns by racing them both inland and in a coastal-environment, by organising cruising events on behalf of the UK Hovercraft Club, by taking part in a dozen ‘Rhone Raid’ events (400 miles over 6 days) and even nipping home in them on sunny days!

So, here’s OUR ‘buyers guide’

1.    Try driving a HovPod

2.    Try driving a Marlin

3.    Decide for yourself.

We try to play nicely, but HovPod have a long history of telling the hovercraft community it’s doing it all wrong so, this seems like a good place to finally address it and take the opportunity to re-issue an old challenge.

“Let’s have it out once and for all. Instead of making up smarmy little ‘buyers guides’ which are anything but a buyer's guide, or making up nonsense for your 50+ websites (yes, honestly!), let’s get one of your craft and one of ours, a mutually agreeable magazine reviewer and see which one comes out best!”

Response provided by The British Hovercraft Company Ltd.

*Hovercraft Manufacturers Association

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

FLYING FISH COMPONENT SETS - BUILD YOUR OWN HOVERCRAFT!

added by Emma on May 2, 2014 at 06:19

 

FLYING FISH COMPONENT SETS - BUILD YOUR OWN HOVERCRAFT!

 

Lots of people enquire to us about building their own hovercraft - or call us for advice and parts when they hit snags building one from plans. Unfortunately, most of the plans and kits available to build your own craft fall well short of providing the first time builder with any realistic chance of assembling a decent, working, attractive craft.

 

Many of the plans available are poorly written and based on outdated 1970’s designs. They usually rely on a very simple, flat wooden hull  which is heavy, porous, ugly and expensive. They often feature a nasty little, two stroke motorbike engines and worse… a bag skirt!  They have no freeboard or flotation and whilst 90% are never finished in any case, those that are completed often work poorly – and almost none produce a genuinely usable recreational craft.

 

Many are never finished and end up on ebay....another “unfinished project, just needs.......” etc. This is largely because many parts need to be sourced, salvaged or made - many are difficult to find or expensive to buy and this leads to a lot of frustration and a loss of motivation to see the project through.

 

So what are the other options?

 

Buy a used craft. Certainly an option but they’re often battered, scruffy looking and in need of restoration. Many are inland racing craft and unusable (or even dangerous) for cruising and recreational use in a salt-water environment. Very few used cruising craft come up for sale which also means prices are high.

 

Buy a new commercially manufactured craft. The perfect solution if funds allow or you’re not the type of person who looks at things and thinks...”How does that work?” But obviously, a manufactured craft costs a reasonable amount of money and may not offer the 'Caterham Cars' thrill of being able to say "I built that!"

 

The third option - Flying Fish Component Sets.

 

For some years now, we’ve supplied Pro-Build Component sets to two overseas manufacturers who produce Marlins under licence. And, in response to the almost constant enquiries we receive to supply parts, kits, hulls and even plans to home builders, we've chosen 2014 to launch or component sets into the retail market.

 

These aren’t just kits; our comprehensive pro-build packages are designed to be quick and fun to build. All the parts you need are supplied ready to assemble, not requiring any donor vehicle, fabrication or any special skills.

 

Building your own hovercraft undoubtedly adds some satisfaction to the finished product - we should know, we build two a week and they still thrill us! But the Flying Fish Component Sets offer two huge advantages over building from plan or a partial kit.

 

The Flying Fish craft work! The Marlin II and Snapper hovercraft have been sold in substantial numbers, and are almost the 'industry standard' for personal hovercraft (Hovercraft Club cruises are usually attended by 80-90% Marlins) so you can be sure you'll be building a professional looking craft that will perform as it should and will 'wow' everyone who sees it. It will work, you’ll have amazing fun with it and it’ll be safe. Building from a plan just isn't a 'sure thing'  - it really doesn’t guarantee that you'll end up with a safe and effective hovercraft -whereas building from a proven component set does.

 

When/if you come to sell your hovercraft, it’ll be worth a good price - you have a fully working, professional looking craft that people will genuinely want to buy. Take a look on ebay for instance, there's probably a Marlin or Snapper on there for sale, and they always fetch decent money. Build it well, look after it and your hovercraft has real value. Plywood/aluminium hovercraft built from plans and kits almost never fetch any money as the hull material makes them look quite ugly and crude.

 

 

 

Which Component Set Should You Choose?

Snapper

Small but enormous fun - the Snapper is the hovercraft of choice at most UK driving events businesses because it's incredibly easy to drive (both adults and kids) and offers very good performance. It will carry two adults on land but is limited to approx 100kgs on water. It's powered by a Vanguard 23bhp engine, so it's quiet, reliable and

economical. It is incredibly manoeuvrable, it must be the easiest hovercraft in the world to drive so its great to share with the kids. It' suitability extends to an uncontrolled environment in calm conditions -  many owners venture into coastal areas every weekend and the component set includes stainless steel fittings for salt water use. You can even race it in Hovercraft Club events!

 

 

Marlin II

The  Marlin II was launched in 2010 and is a longer version of the Snapper with a higher seating position (you sit in the Marlin, kneel in the Snapper) larger screen, 35bhp engine and improved performance - particularly in a marine environment. Overall, it's best described as a ‘sports-cruiser’ and really looks the part! See our website for lots of details and photos.

 

What's included in the set?

 

Everything! All parts are 'straight off the shelf' - ie they're exactly the same components that we use in production of our own craft.

 


Complete set of fibreglass parts, trimmed.

Complete Fibreglass hull. Top and bottom decks bonded together.

Buoyancy foam and engine mounting timber installed.

920mm duct - inner and outer mouldings (inner fitted to hull)

Rudders & Flow straighteners.

23bhp (Snapper) or 35bhp Briggs & Stratton (Marlin) engine, boxed.

Built in fuel tank with filler fitting (Marlin) or 12l outboard tank (Snapper)

Seat cover (not upholstered)

Screen.

Belt cover and rear cone

Steering cable installed


Fan frame.

Alloy engine mounting plates.

Fan blades and hubs, with bearings.

Guard, guard saddles.

Stainless Steel Top & Bottom pulleys, taper lock.

Platinum Spec Drive Belt

Stainless steel Exhaust and downpipes.

Fuel line/filter and primer bulb

Steering kit - handlebars, uprights, stock, mount, grips.

Skirt Material and template (finished segments available at extra cost)

Bilge pump & piping.

Throttle Cable & Lever

Wiring loom & Toggle Switches

Hatch Covers

Skirt fixing cable and clamps (lower)

Titanfast skirt fixing (upper)

Mooring cleats

Skirt fix top clips

Sikaflex, peeler rivets.

Complete nut and bolt set.

Keel strips


Aluminium edging

 

 

 

Hull colour

 

 

 

White with your choice of red or blue trim/secondary colour.

 

Other colours available at an additional cost of £250.00 (hull) and £150.00 (secondary)

 

 

 

Other options include

 

 

 

Lights (beacons/navigation lights/headlights)

 

Marlin Screen with Snapper purchase.

 

One man/one minute trailer.

 

'Marinised' or upgraded engine.

 

Skirt segments in place of material.

 

Teak effect flooring.

 

Coloured blades.

 

For more details, contact sales@flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk or call us on 0044(0)1304619820

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Search


Categories

None


Tags


Archive


Recent Posts