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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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