Coastal-Pro Hovercraft off to Finland

added by russ on February 10, 2015 at 11:13
Just finished loading the 6th Coastal-Pro off the production line. This striking red and white example is on its way to our Finnish dealer RAF HOVERCRAFT www.rafhovercraft.fi and will be exhibited at an emergency services show in a few weeks time. Further refinements to the electronics of the Rampage 50bhp engine meant that this one produced even more thrust than previous ones. In fact, fan data seems to suggest that 50bhp may be a rather modest claim so in future we shall descibe the power figure as 'adequate!' Noise levels are very low at 74dbA at cruising speed, it floats with enormous stability do to the width and weight and the tough GRP/Kevlar hull is built ot take the knocks and bumps of a tough commercial and rescue role. To find out more, contact either Kari at RAF Hovercraft our ourselves. www.rafhovercraft.fi www.britishhovercraft.com

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.

 

 

Quiet Hovercraft! Our Coastal-Pro Noise Test Results.

added by Emma on January 26, 2015 at 05:52

Noise is the biggest challenge faced by hovercraft designers and builders. In the last year we've been conducting a significant project to develop new, more quiet hovercraft, and the Coastal-Pro is the first to benefit from the results.

Much of the credit for this work must go to Keith Oakley. Keith has been involved with hovercraft as a passionate enthusiast for a very long time and over the last few years has tested over 150 hovercraft for their noise signatures. Using the information gained from this, we've worked together to improve noise levels using his knowledge together with our experience and engineering facilities. Keith's work is hugely respected within the hovercraft community - what he wants to achieve is a greater acceptance for hovercraft in both commercial and recreational applications, and to have him working so closely with us to achieve this is a fabulous opportunity for us. Basically (without giving away commercial secrets!) there are about ten significant factors which are responsible for the noise. Some improvements are fairly straightforward and generally understood  such as bigger ducts and slower fans. But Keith's research has also identified some more subtle factors which when addressed as part of an overall design,  contribute significant reductions in overall noise levels.  

We knew the Coastal-Pro was good but we had only had a chance to run some rough tests. What we were keen to do was to thoroughly test it for 'flyby' noise - the most relevant test for a dynamic machine (as opposed to a static test) but had to wait for a calm day without wind to skew the results.

The outcome was extremely satisfying. After averaging three runs, maximum noise at full power measured at 25m was 78dbA. However, at cruising speed (approximately 20 knots) the noise was just 74dbA. This is way down on traditional hovercraft noise levels and we believe it is demonstrably the quietest commercially built hovercraft available anywhere in Europe. In real terms, if you're standing on a river bank and a Coastal-Pro passes by, the noise simply isn't unacceptable or offensive.

This is just the first application of the project results to our range of craft, and in some ways the easiest to apply. But our 'crusade' continues, and we promise more results in due course. Make sure you 'like' our Facebook page and you'll be the first to hear about them!

Commercial Regulations : MCA Meeting tomorrow!

added by Emma on January 14, 2015 at 09:28

Big Day tomorrow! For those of you that have been following our work with the MCA on the HCoP, you'll understand why we're rather excited that the code is now to face the whole working group for - hopefully - the discussion which will finalise the code ready for implication. The code has been largely prepared by the HMA members, lead by Griffon Hoverwork and ourselves and is based on the MGN280 commercial workboat regulations. Like or loathe our current government, this has come about because industry regulation is now encouraged by government to be industry lead, which is exactly what the Hovercraft Code is. This means that the regulations contain a ton of common sense and can be clearly understood and implemented by those operating hovercraft for the first time.  

The MCA granted permission for the Ultralight Category hovercraft to commence commercial operations back in June 2014 and we've quickly seized the opportunity with the formation of Coastal Transit Services, which has been busy providing crew transfer and survey services since last year. However, the larger categories (Light : Up to 100kgs and Small : Up to 24m) have taken more work with particular emphasis on engine choices and propeller specifications.

So - tomorrow will be interesting - let's see what happens and we'll obviously update this page and our facebook page with updates as they happen.

Russ

 

Demonstration Day

added by Emma on January 14, 2015 at 07:46

Demo Day

Want to try a hovercraft out?

We have a last-minute demo day this Friday for those that move quick. For those that like to plan things a little more, you have another opportunity on Saturday 24th January. Long range weather report looks pretty good with bright blue skies, so drop us a line or call to reserve your slot. We'll have a Snapper, Marlin and Coastal-Pro available for you to try and an 'on-the-day' insentive if you wish to take the plunge into hovercraft ownership.

Call us today on 01304 619820 or email us on info@britishhovercraft.com to book your demonstration

HOVERCRAFT OPERATIONS ON THE RIVER MERSEY

added by russ on December 18, 2014 at 12:06

Those of you that see the updates on our Facebook page may have noticed that we have been busy providing crew transfer services on the Mersey Gateway project, a £600m six-lane motorway bridge over the Mersey linking Widnes & Runcorn in Cheshire.

This has been a very significant job for us, as it’s the first time that a small hovercraft has been used commercially under the terms of the 2014 Hovercraft Code of Practice. The 2014 Coastal-Pro MACV is designed and built to comply with the code, and all correct certification for skippers and the hovercraft are correct. As you can imagine, our risk assessments, method statements and plans had to be right up to scratch with all relevant permissions gained from the MCA, port authourity etc

The work has certainly been tough! Our job is to transfer the engineers and welders to and from the various barges and work sites, and with the river at Widnes being so tidal, the craft must be able to operate over both water and sand/mudflats. The tidal bore can be quite something, with the tide rising in a little over two hours. Having said that, the mud bank doesn’t always cover at all, so that after a week drying due to neap tides, the mud becomes extremely sticky. On the flooding or ebbing tide, coming alongside the barges can be challenging, especially in the recent winds. Our hardcore skippers start at 6:30am, with first transfers in the dark at 7:00am. During our first week, the cold temperatures have meant that the MACV has literally torn itself free of the ice coating the steel slipway in the morning with an unnerving ripping noise. Early though it is, any sleepiness is gone in the first ten yards – it’s bitterly cold and dark, and the mudflats change literally tide by tide with gullies coming and going overnight. The skipper needs to be alert and aware of the changes in the terrain and a set of the superb 'Cree' LED lights seem almost powerless on the giant landscape.  

CLICK FOR VIDEO - NIGHTIME TRANSFER 

It’s certainly been an interesting period with a very steep learning curve. The MACV has performed absolutely faultlessly, proving to be exactly the right size – large enough for two or three crew, but small enough to be ‘handy’ amongst the barges and cranes – able to get into and out of some pretty tight spaces and through the gullies and able to deal with that ‘sticky’ mud. We've been told that at leats one much heavier commercial/rescue hovercraft has become thoroughly stuck when attempting to operate in this area of the Mersey. Our lighter craft and segmented skirt allows us a workaround and the separate lift system is absolutely essential for this work.   

The mud rescue on site is being provided by a 'Sealegs' which if you've not seen one before is a 6m RIB with a hydraulically driven, three wheel system. This allows it to travel across the land as well as water. It's been interesting to compare the two vehicles - the Sealegs certainly offers an advantage in fast flowing tides (reverse is handy, a pointy bow and no skirt to drag in the water when not moving is a luxury) but it's is desperately slow on land and can only run for around half an hour before needing to cool down. On a bumpy day, give me the RIB every time, but crossing the mudflats from one side of the river to the other takes some twenty minutes - by contrast the MACV takes less than four! It's outboard has also proved vulnerable to silt in the shallow water conditions and it can get stuck if the mud is too soft - the wheels do have limits and cause a lot of damage to the littoral substrate that hovercraft don't. Having said that, it's been on the job for some months and is doing a demanding job in an environment I can’t believe it was actually designed for.

Our skippers (myself included) have learned a lot about skippering and driving the MACV in this role. We've managed to bend a few bits that we didn’t think could be bent, we've found components  that have frozen up on cold mornings, we've learned to deal with 'that' mud and certainly discovered the limits of the craft. We're pretty sure that every welder on site weighs a minimum of 100kgs, and every part of the MACV has been jumped or stepped on - so far with no damage which is rather gratifying!

VIDEO - DAYTIME FROM BARGE TO SHORE

So, as we end the year, we'll be bringing the MACV back from Liverpool for some love and attention and will be back in the new year to continue operations until Spring 2015, when we move to another, similar job in the North East of England. Exciting times!

Our thanks must go to the team at the MCA who have allowed small hovercraft to operate in this role, with the adoption of the Ultralight category of the Hovercraft Code of Practice 2014, Peel Ports for quickly assessing the viability and safety of our operations, and our duty skippers Nelson & Dave for their hard work in tough conditions.

 

Evening on the River mersey

 

Early morning, Sealegs and the MACV together.

 

One of our other jobs - providing a solid, stable base for survey equipment on dangerous mudflats.

 

Welcome to the British Hovercraft Company Limited!

added by russ on November 19, 2014 at 06:30

Today is a very important one for us as we rebrand, restructure and rename Flying Fish Hovercraft Ltd. From today, Flying Fish will become a brand name of our new company -

The British Hovercraft Company Limited.

Why have we done this? Well, in the last year, we've built the utility and commercial side of Flying Fish and we believe  'The British Hovercraft Company' better represents what we do. With the adoption of the Hovercraft Code of Practice, we've found many more applications for small hovercraft are open to us than previously and have recently supplied small hovercraft for intertidal survey, crew transfer and to private owners using their hovercraft for use on frozen rivers and shallow estuaries.

'Flying Fish' is probably the most recognisable  brand of personal and leisure hovercraft in the world, with over 1000 Snapper, Marlins and Coastal-Pro's sold over the last 16 years.  And the Flying Fish name remains to represent our recreational range - still a massive part of our business.

So - its business as usual coupled with 'all change' here at The British Hovercraft Company! Together with the name change, we're currently undergoing an exciting period of restructuring with regards how we manufacture our hovercraft as we prepare for what we are confident will be a very busy 2015.

The website is now at www.britishhovercraft.com but you'll still be able to contact us on the existing email addresses, and the phone number is still (01304) 619820 - just be ready for us to answer the phone with "Flying British Hovercraft Company" as we try to shake the habit of the last 16 years!

 

Best Wishes from Russ, Emma, Ivan and all the team at The British Hovercraft Company Ltd.

The US approves of the new Coastal-Pro Hovercraft!

added by russ on November 18, 2014 at 05:01

Selling hovercraft into the USA is a good thing - Americans are demanding clients (which is why my top holiday tip is always to head for resorts which are aimed at the US market - rather than European ones!) and in order to please the US client, we have to make sure the hovercraft we sell are better than good. This of course starts at the design stage, but follows right through manuufacturing to ensure we provide consistent high quality, hassle free products. Having clients that expect the best products simply drives us to produce the highest possible quality hovercraft.

Last weekend, our US dealer, Jason Keuhn from Hoverstream visited us to try out the new Coastal-Pro and was delighted. A full day on the River Medway clocked up some 40 miles exploring some of the historic sights and a visit to a traditional English pub for a beer with some flavour was a suitable finale!

As you can see  from the copy of Jason's facebook post below - he was very happy with the new Coastal-Pro (in fact he came back to our factory the and immediately ordered three!) and I may be biased but I have to agree with him. We honestly believe there is nothing else on the market which comes close in terms of performance, low noise, handling  and looks. We set out to create the best small hovercraft on the market today and are absolutely delighted with the results!

Hovercraft review by Jason at Hoverstream

The new Coastal Pro is here, and it changes everything. More space, more payload capacity, more thrust, a separate lift engine, quieter, and a wicked new look equals one incredible hovercraft!

We were recently fortunate enough to spend a day in England trying out one of these new beauties, and boy are we impressed! First of all, special sound deadening material in the front screen combined with the larger, slow turning thrust fan make the whole thing surprisingly quiet. Second, the separate lift engine offers a huge advantage with heavy payloads, especially on ice or in tight quarters where maximum maneuverability is important. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it's simply a pleasure to drive. There is just nothing else like it on the market.

 

Build a Hovercraft - Snapper & Marlin Kits in time for Christmas!

added by russ on November 13, 2014 at 06:16

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' Kits

 

For some years now, the British Hovercraft Company has supplied Pro-Build Component sets to two overseas manufacturers who produce the Flying Fish range under licence. And, in response to the almost constant enquiries we receive to supply parts, kits, hulls and even plans to home builders, we chose 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. And we mean everything - down to the last nut and bolt!

 

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! Flying Fish Kits offer two huge advantages over building from plan or a partial kit.

 

They 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. It has a greta reputation (Flying Fish' craft are pretty much the industry standard). 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 it's 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 coneSteering 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.

 

Production Time : Approximately two weeks.

Build Time : Approximately 2 Weeks/50 hours,.

Build Guide : Video

Cost :   Snapper £5,000.00+VAT

            Marlin £6,250.00+VAT

For more details, contact info@britishhovercraft.com or call us on 0044(0)1304619820

 

Guy Martin, 'Speed' TV Gold, and some background.

added by russ on November 10, 2014 at 06:26

Last night on Channel 4, motorbike legend Guy Martin, and hovercraft legend Bill Baker, set out to break the world water speed record for a hovercraft. The official record of 85mph was set back in 1995 by American hovercraft designer Bob Windt and as Guy pointed out in the program…"it’s a British invention, the record should be here!"

 As is usual with most TV shows of its ilk, the program went off at a complete tangent with Guy learning to float in wind tunnel, take place in a hovercraft beach assault with the royal marines, and best of all - undergo a Bukram Yoga session with a very pretty but unnecessarily hot and sweaty Yoga teacher. As one of my American friends said "I doubt very much that Bob did any of that."

 Then Guy had to pass  a test to get his Hovercraft Club of Great Britain licence - edited to make it look like he made a complete hash of it - only to be awarded it in any case. Having raced with the HCGB for many years, I can assure the outraged people of Twitter that there is no way he would be allowed to race without a degree of competency. Having passed, he was off to the Gang Warily race meeting to get some experience (honestly, it would have been much more relevant to take him out on a cruise in a fast craft, rather than racing round the smallest race track on the calendar at 30mph!) where they showed several accidents and incidents.

 When the program finally got around to talking about the record attempt hovercraft, we were treated so an insight into Bill and his team creating a 5m GRP hovercraft based on the successful BBV4 - smaller cousin to the BBV500 we manufacture under licence from BBV Hovercraft. As it turned out, the BBV (a successful craft used by several commercial users for environmental services etc) didn’t make such a successful 90mph speed record  racer - even when fitted with a 200bhp Suzuki GSXR engine.

 The biggest problem was clearly excessive lift at speed, with Guy's second run resulting in a spectacular 'Campbell Maneuver' - fortunately with less dramatic results, though the craft was badly damaged and Guy felt, unsafe to continue (basically, he looked shaken - and rightly so!)

 Overall - he achieved some impressive speed (peak of 79mph, average 75) in a hovercraft which wasn't truly suitable for the attempt. And this of course, comes down to time and money rather than BBV making a choice to use something unsuitable . We were approached some months back by the TV production company making 'Speed' but quickly decided they didn’t have sufficient understanding of the challenges involved for the project to have a fair chance of success. The main issue (apart from the ridiculously low budget they had) was that they expected the hovercraft to be ready within a couple of months. We considered that for a one off project with such massive safety issues we weren't prepared to rush into it. I know Bill - and cannot think of a better man to take on the speed challenge. I'm pretty sure he'd much rather have used a 20ft long craft with a pointy front end to reduce high-speed lift, given time and  money - neither of which (from our discussions) were available. Quite simply, I feel he was pushed towards grabbing what was available and making the best of it. For a utility/commercial hovercraft - I think it did pretty well.

 So, it ended in failure - of a sort. But it was a worthy attempt - a brief 79mph maximum speed remember. And what it has done is to reopen interest in a speed record attempt here in the UK.  We've certainly looked into it in a half-hearted way previously, and it's just possible we may turn the heat up under our plans. We're also aware that another well respected figure is making plans.

 So, fingers crossed that the program - and Guy Martin's involvement - has given the sport a shot in the arm. Well done to all involved.

 100mph in 2016…. now there's a challenge!


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