Buying a second hand hovercraft - some advice.

added by Emma on March 29, 2017 at 07:09

General Advice

In this chapter of our hovercraft buyers guide one, we’ll examine what to look for when buying a used recreational hovercraft. Over the years, lots of hovercraft manufacturers have come and gone – some producing great hovercraft…some less so. Even some current models are pretty poor and have quality or performance issues so you do really need to be careful. A used hovercraft that was junk when it was new…is still junk after 6 months or 6 years! The same applies to home-built hovercraft that come onto the market – even given good plans, the build, component quality, and specification vary enormously.

Just like when you buy most vehicles, your options are to buy either privately, or from a business. It’s likely that buying from a business will be more expensive but your purchase should come with a warranty, basic training and support, and being covered by consumer law, is probably a safer option for inexperienced or first time owners.

Just like we said in the initial part of this guide, the first thing you need to do is to decide what you want to use the hovercraft for. Is it for playing around a grassy field? Or cruising on salt water estuaries? The demands of the marine environment is significantly more and generally, a properly prepared cruising craft will cost more money than a basic machine to provide fun playing around in a grassy field.  

Hovercraft from UK manufacturers such as BBV Hovercraft and Vortex Engineering (and ourselves!) are likely to be ‘marine-ready’ is that is what most professionally manufactured hovercraft are built for. Look for stainless steel and alloy components to resist the dreaded salt water, decent buoyancy and flotation, freeboard and 4-stroke engines.

You may well come across an ‘unfinished project’ – either an unfinished refurbishment, or unfinished self-build hovercraft kit. Enthusiasm and cash often run out during the project and the resulting ebay sale can be a good buy if you have the knowledge and skills to finish it. But spotting what’s safe and effective in a hovercraft design is pretty tough if this is your first foray into the hobby. Before you go ahead, it may well be worth joining the HCGB - Hovercraft Club of Great Britain www.hovercraft.org.uk and asking for advice on the club’s Facebook page - the club forum is pretty much dead now, Facebook will get quick, helpful responses though. Take photos and find out as much as you can – it’s a small community and it’s quite  likely that somebody will even know the history of the craft.

Quite a number of older home built hovercraft will be powered by small 2-Stroke motorbike engines. These ‘Challenger’ hovercraft were often built from Hovercraft Club plans and have dated badly – they are little use for real-world cruising and unfortunately, they’ve also had their day as a competitive racing hull, so they’re little more than a casual play-around toy. 

The other type you may come across is a home-built hovercraft built from design plans. These can range from one to as many as six seats of 20ft or more. Provided the build quality is good (which can be very difficult to ascertain for a novice) these can be a pretty good buy and allow you access to proper cruising events and experiences. They’re competent enough as cruisers, but preparation for salt-water may be sub-standard. As mentioned above, inspecting the quality of the build and components is critical, as no two are the same.

Inspecting the hovercraft

Having found something that looks like it might do the job, go along for a look. Here’s our advice for some of the things you need to look for when inspecting a potential purchase.

Skirt
Just like the tyres on your car, hovercraft skirts are a disposable service item. A lot of hovercraft coming onto the market will feature a spectacularly well worn skirt. Material has shot up in price recently and a new skirt can be upwards of £500.00 so make sure you allow for it. If you see ragged edges or thin/de-laminating material – the segment needs replacement. Marlin (for example) skirts segments are around £9.00+VAT (or a whole skirt is approx £450.00) each so it’s  simple matter to count up the cost to get the skirt back into shape – most wear occurs on the front and read quarters. As long as you have a pattern (or even a sample) then a skirt can be made to sit any model – we’ve found ourselves with patterns for around 20 different models and can usually make replacements for other models. Avoid ‘cheap’ materials such as curtainside – it’s works badly and wears out quickly. Neoprene coasted Nylon is the right material.

 

An old ‘bag’ skirt will be patched and repaired, and be worn on the ground contact line. They can be very specialist to replace, requiring expensive material and glues, a lot of time and experience to replace – be ready for a substantial bill if a bag skirt needs replacement. In all honesty, unless it’s a big hovercraft (6 or more seats) a bag skirt is a liability. The better option for larger hovercraft is a ‘bag and finger’ (or ‘loop and segment’) skirt which combines a bag skirt which has segments below giving better performance and lower repair costs – the bag is not in contact with the surface and the segments can be more easily and cheaply replaced. 

Hull
Fibreglass (GRP,) other laminates, aluminium & wood are all good materials to build a hovercraft from. Plastic (such as HDPE) are best avoided. Through hard use, over the years, hulls will get knocked around in minor bumps, they’ll get scratched and dirty. That should all be visible, but look carefully at mounting points (fan frame/engine/steering etc) inspecting for cracks, distortions or damage repair. These are important mountings and need to be strong.

 

Make sure you look underneath the hull as that’s where it can take a real hammering, especially when badly driven over rocky terrain! Partly fill the plenum chamber with a garden hose and see if any water escapes – if it can get out, it can get in!

 Wood is tricky, there’s wood and wood. Marine ply is the best so you need to check the hull isn’t built from cheap material, and rotten. Look at the bottom, hovercraft often get put away wet which can cause wood to sit & rot.

Just remember that repairs add weight – hovercraft hate weight!  The good news is that GRP, wood and aluminium can be repaired fairly easily. Aside from the fact it’s too heavy to build a successful hovercraft from, another problem with plastic/HDPE is that it can’t be easily repaired.   

Engines
Engines in hovercraft can get a hard life – many poorly designed craft need lots of power lots of the time to operate - and car engines can be spinning constantly at 5-6000rpm. Given that these are often sourced from an old, scrapyard sourced donor vehicle that may have had another 20,000 miles in it, when fitted to a hovercraft, their life expectancy can be just a few hours. Flat 4 Subarus & BMW motorbike engines are both popular choices but getting pretty old now in 2017 and should really be rebuilt before fitting.

Small commercial engines (Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, Honda etc) are increasingly popular and designed to run at a higher load racing for a larger amount of their life. Aside from their economy and low noise levels, they’re light, simple, cheap to repair and service.

2-Strokes are a liability! Noisy, expensive to run and unreliable. They particularly loathe salt-water, but offer high power-to-weight ratio. They'll offend everyone within two miles with their noise however.

Whatever engine the hovercraft is fitted with, look for obvious signs of wear or neglect, noises, smoke and oil leaks. If you’re not confident on this, a friend knowledgeable in engines is very useful.

Fan / propeller & transmission
This inspection is critical. An old/damaged fan or propeller, badly mounted can be – literally – lethal. Walk away (or allow for replacement of) anything home made, or old fashioned ‘Truflow’ brand blades which are no longer available. Any sign of purple or green in a MultiWing or Hascon blade means it’s in need of replacement. Any cracks or significant chips in the blade means it needs to go - a new set can run to  £150.00-£200.00 or so, depending on the number. With propellers, check it’s a branded, microlight specification unit, and check for signs of erosion on the leading edge, caused by sand and grit in the air flow literally sand blasting the edge. Look for damage and cracks. Check the belt (cover may need removing) and check for fraying or tears but on balance I'd always replace an unknown belt - just like a cambelt on your car, they can fail without any prior visible wear or damage at high hours and quality varies enormously. Check for play and roughness in bearings and cracks in the fan/engine frame or mounting points where they bolt to the hull. Check that the fan guard(s) are complete and well fitted.

 

Controls
Steering and elevators (if fitted) are usually controlled by ‘bowden’ cables – they can corrode over time when used in a salty environment, so check they operate freely.

Performance : One of the challenges of hovercraft is that of performance. If it doesn’t work properly, it may be that it doesn’t work at all. It may not be able to operate over water due to skirt-drag or inadequate thrust, it may not hover properly because of poor fan or skirt design. Steering may be comprised due to poor rudder design. All this leads to the obvious conclusion that it’s very wise to try the hovercraft out before you part with any cash.

Our Advice in Summary

  • If you haven’t owned a hovercraft before, then buy a hovercraft in full, working order – NOT one that requires work or refurbishment.
  • Decide on the use for your hovercraft and research the model to ensure it is suitable.
  • Racing hovercraft are completely unsuitable for cruising and marine use.
  • Phone the manufacturer for advice and find out what spares are available.
  • Ask around, join the HCGB talk to experienced club members and operators.
  • Don’t buy a poor / unknown brand or design
  • Be doubly careful of the quality of components and construction of homebuilt hovercraft.
  • Double check safety, construction & guarding of rotating parts.
  • Budget for a full service, skirt wear and any obvious repairs.
  • Ask if it is possible to test the hovercraft.

 

Below - a good example of a hovercraft advertised on ebay which is well worth buying..... (or not!)

(Seriously, this was on ebay last year and he wanted money for it!)

 

 

Below - An awesome bit of kit, £10,000 gets you a missile capable of 0-60mph in under 5 seconds. BUT - not suitable for cruising or salt-water use.

 

 

 

 

An old-fashioned 'Skima' Hovercraft - ugly by today's standards and ancient design means it's very, very loud! (photo : James Hovercraft / Hovercraft Museum)

 

 

 

Prices 2016/2017

added by Emma on August 19, 2016 at 06:17

Well, it's been two years since we revised our pricing and we've spent the last week working through all our costs to settle on our new 2016 pricing structure. Whilst some of our products have had to increase in price, others have stayed the same and we've even been able to drop the price slightly on some parts, upgrades and accessories. In all cases,price adjustments have been modest and reflect our production costs – there's no major increases.

We'll continue to monitor our production costs, and where possible, we're quite prepared to reduce prices to keep our products as competitive as they've always been.

These prices come into effect on September 1st 2016 and until then our current pricing applies. So, if you're considering a Snapper or Marlin purchase, grab the opportunity and get your order in before prices increase in two weeks time.

If you would like further information please contact us at emma@britishhovercraft.com

Two driving event craft, Spares and Training for only £8500.00 inc VAT!

added by Emma on August 16, 2016 at 09:27

 

We have available 2 x single seat hovercraft which are perfect for a corporate events/driving Events Company. Both craft have been fully refurbished by The British Hovercraft Company.

List of work done includes:

 

  • Hull (underside) of the craft completely re-glassed and sealed.
  • New blades and belt
  • Interior floor recovered with non-slip material
  • Engine serviced
  • New graphics
  • New upholstery and fuel tank cover
  • New wire and P-clips
  • New skirt

This package comes with 1 full replacement sk

irt, a full spares package and training on how to drive and maintain the craft as well as advice on how to set up a corporate track if required.

Alternatively, these fun little craft are just as suitable for belting round a field or garden, can be driven by kids as young as 10 years old (under strict adult supervision!) or for use in sheltered water such as bays estuaries, lakes and rivers. In fact, at this price, they're well worth grabbing if you simply want to scratch that hovercraft itch!

Craft are also available individually at £3950.00 inc VAT.

For any other questions call us on 01304 619820

The World's Best Hovercraft? What would we buy?

added by Emma on July 13, 2016 at 06:46

The British Hovercraft Company make a range of hovercraft but by no means do we make something for everyone. We often get asked for hovercraft which aren’t in our product range. Like any vehicle, hovercraft come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t try to cater for every demand – or market. We stick to building the best hovercraft we can, whilst sticking within reasonable budgets to match our customer’s requirements.

But! If money was no object, what would we buy?

Big = Good!  : Griffon TD 8000

Sold all around the world, Griffon Hoverwork manufacture commercial hovercraft from 6 -60 seats. Undoubtedly, the world leaders in large hovercraft, Griffon's largest craft is the TD8000 is a 21m, 1600hp aluminium craft that is capable of 40knots. There's a military version and the Indian Coastguard ordered 12 of these beasts for coastal patrol. Griffon is a huge British success story and this is a truly amazing machine!

 

 

Beautiful : Airlift Pioneer MkIII

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Airlift factory in Australia where a Pioneer MkIII was in construction. The attention to detail, the quality of the engineering and that jaw-dropping styling are a result of the simple fact that Company Director Ross McLeod is a genuine artist. The attention to detail is astonishing and I left wanting one really badly. Fast, beautiful and low-noise, if I could have just one hovercraft, this would be it. Although the new Airlift Wildfire would run it close…

 

 

 

High-End : The Slider

The Slider's a lovely looking bit of kit, made in New Zealand, with great styling and a clever lift system. This together with an expensive engine and a labour intensive loop-and-segment skirt means it's very expensive to buy. Shame it’s a two stroke engine, but it's a great looking machine with good performance. Gets a definite thumbs up from us!

 

 

Hoverboard - No, I'm not talking about those stupid wheeled electric things that burst into flames and singe your novelty pop socks. They don't hover and they're rubbish (as proven by the fact I haven't seen one since Boxing Day 2015) Anyway, it's 2016, and watching a re-run of Back to The Future II last weekend I realised I still haven’t got my hoverboard! Despite a spectacular hoax last year YOUTUBE VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4vE_vpkr90 I think it might be a little while yet as the technology isn’t even on the horizon. But admit it - it’s worth the wait and you want one don’t you? Badly. And believe me, whoever does manage to crack it will be rich beyond dreams!

 

 

Racing Hovercraft : Eurocraft

Designed by Swedish Formula One world champion Magnus Ivanoff, the Eurocraft was a long time in development and drew on the huge experience of a team of European racers. Since then, it has gone on to take numerous European and World championships in the hands of Italian ‘Superstar’ Michele Scanavino and many others.  Constructed from vacuum bagged carbon-fibre/kevlar and powered by tuned snowmobile engines, an F1 Eurocraft can call on over 220bhp….providing simply ballistic performance, demanding God-like driving skill and massive plums. Oh Boy…

 

 

Concept Hovercraft : The VW Aqua Hovercraft

Okay, it won’t ever happen and the photo here is computer generated -it's a bit of fun sponsored by VW, the dream of a Chinese student and wouldn’t work. But if it did get built and it did work (you know, we learn how to break the laws of physics) then I may have to reconsider my opinion that VW make good but boring cars!  Hydrogen fuel cells, retractable wheels, superb styling - what's not to love (apart from the dodgy emission figures!)

 

 

‘Plane’ Stupid! - WIGS

A hovercraft that flies? Now that’s got to be a good idea! WIG (Wing In Ground Effect) technology was pioneered by the Russians back in the 1960’s with the awesome Ekranoplan ‘Caspian Sea Monster’ and has subsequently made its way into the recreational market with either fully built or (even more scarily!) home built offerings from Universal Hovercraft in the USA.  Flying low above the surface (water if you have any sense) using the interaction between wing and surface, the idea of blatting through the middle of London, weaving between the River Cats, 15ft above the Thames does have a certain hooligan/suicidal appeal!

 

 

Historic - The SRN4

There’s been plenty of weird and wonderful designs over the years, and many of them now reside in the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-Solent. Well worth a visit (open Weekends and Wednesdays, see their website for details) and stuffed full of crazy inventions and some wonderful old monsters including the biggest passenger craft ever built, two of the SRN4 cross channel craft operated by Hoverlloyd, Seaspeed and later the joint company, Hoverspeed. They were taken out of service in 2000 but remain an imposing, majestic monster from another age, the like of which we’ll never see again. One of my favourite British inventions of the last century (the Spitfire just edges it out of the number one spot!) the two on display are fighting for their lives in the face of hungry property developers who wish to build flats on the land upon which they stand. I love these beasties – in fact a handbuilt model of ‘Swift’ which once graced the Hoverlloyd MD’s office now takes pride of place in mine!

 

 

Well - that's our selection - who knows what we'll end up building in the future? Maybe there's a few ideas here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hovercraft Hire for Survey, Crew Transfer, Environmental Monitoring & Habitat Surveys

added by Emma on May 11, 2016 at 07:07

Low-cost, small hovercraft hire is now possible due to the Hovercraft Code of Practice. With no requirement for commercial coding, operating costs are considerably reduced leading to affordable hire/rental costs. We now provide MACV hire to businesses and organisations needing access to areas where previously the only option was to walk.

Here at The British Hovercraft Company, we are ideally positioned to provide hovercraft hire and rental services to companies and organisations that need access to intertidal areas.

Our Coastal-Pro hovercraft is a handy, easily deployed professionally prepared 3-4 seat hovercraft which benefits from the fact that we as the manufacturer, have unrivalled backup, support & workshop facilites for our (very reliable!) hire hovercraft. It has a load capacity up to 350kgs (depending on surface/wind/conditions) on water, even more on mudflats.  It offers the lowest noise levels of any professionally manufactured hovercraft, so quiet that it meets and exceeds the EU standards for recreational boats (the Recreational Craft Directive.) This means that it is particularly suitable for use in SSSI's and other environmentally sensitive areas. It creates absolutely no damage to the surface over which it travels, exerting less pressure on the ground than the tide does.

Recent work has been with universities, survey companies, piling companies (Mersey Gateway project) and civil engineers where the hovercraft has provided a much safer transport option than walking across dangerous mudflats carrying equipment and damaging the marine substrate.

Hire costs are in the region of £700 per day, depending on travel/deployment etc with discounts for longer term contracts.

For more details, visit www.coastaltransit.services

 

 

Early start working alongside Argocats

 

The flat hull on a Hovercraft offers a firm, solid base for survey equipment.

 

Using wheeled transport in a sensitive environment can cause enromous damage, these tracks were visible a month later!

 

Red and Silver Marlin II 'Beast' hovercraft, *** NEW! *** ONLY £9950.00 inc VAT

added by Emma on May 9, 2016 at 09:53

 

 

This red hull/silver trim Marlin 'Beast' looks superb and is another bargain from our 'Spring Clear Out!' It's shown here part way through the build and will be completed within a week. The hull itself is perfect, the screen has some very slight scratches. It's priced to sell at >2£k less than list price, because the customer changed their mind on colour choice, so this one needs to go. We're offering it at Marlin II money because it's in the way!

37bhp Vanguard, 'T' Seat, dial kit (GPS speedo/heading compass) tacho/engine hour meter, nav lights, yellow beacon, fully marine ready with stainless/alloy components throughout and marinised electrics.

Ready  for use in a marine environment, floats like a boat, does 40mph, 15mpg, low noise levels and a years warranty. An absolutely thrilling toy for lads and dads, yacht tender or summer fun. Simply (as JC put it) "The Most Fun You Can Have With an Engine!" This is a professionally built, serious bit of kit which complies with the regulations in the MCA Hovercraft Code of Practice and comes with training and a years warranty.

Can be delivered in the UK or shipped overseas in a container. Price includes VAT.

For full details, see our website http://britishhovercraft.com/Buy-A-Hovercraft/Marlin-2-3-Seater.aspx

Any questions, call or email us.

info@britishhovercraft.com
0044 (0)1304 619820

 

 

*** Our 6 Seater Hovers...! ***

added by Emma on May 5, 2016 at 05:28

Very early sneak-peak of our upcoming 6 seat open/cabin craft. What you see here is a basically 'naked' hovering platform. No screen, no thrust engine, no seating etc etc. This was today's first test of its lift characteristics and the results look very positive. Here it is with six on board, fully lifting - trim appears okay at this stage, the screen, cowling and components are calculated to bring the front down to where we need it. It has a full 14" of hover height, and a load capacity in the region of 500kgs or driver and five passengers.

 

 

We promise it'll look as pretty as a Coastal-Pro when completed and fully clothed! Pricing from approx £40-50,000.00 plus VAT for the open version. We aim to be delivering the first customer orders by summer with the cabin version available a little later.

Hovercraft Manufacturers Association wins industry award!

added by Emma on May 4, 2016 at 04:24

We're delighted to announce that the Hovercraft Manufacturers Association has been awarded a Marine Safety Award by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects. RINA is an internationally renowned professional institution whose members are involved at all levels in the design, construction, maintenance and operation of marine vessels and structures, so it's particularly exciting that the hovercraft industry has been recognised by such a prestigious organisation. I'm pretty sure this is a first (for many years at least!) and it marks another step in our ongoing efforts to mature the hovercraft industry.

The award was jointly shared with Griffon Hoverworks, who contributed their enormous experience in the technical preparation of the Hovercraft Code of Practice. Speaking for ourselves, the new code has already made a substantial difference to our business, with an increase in sales of our Coastal-Pro model to small UK companies who are operating them in a commercial role for survey, monitoring and crew transfer. We also have our own craft that we hire out to companies and organsations operating in intertidal areas via Coastal Transit Services. None of this would be possible without the new code, and other members of the HMA are benefitting equally, seeing both opportunities and safety improved through a set of clear, plain regulation written specifically for small hovercraft by the industry itself.

Our thanks, on behalf of the HMA to RINA, and on a personal note, congratulations to the HMA members who contributed so much time and experience in seeing this daunting project through to its successful completion.

 

 

Mark Downer from Griffon Hoverworks and Russ Pullen, from The British Hovercraft Company receiving the award from RINA at the Lancaster Hotel, London.

 

 

Hovercraft and your Public Right of Navigation

added by Emma on March 24, 2016 at 09:38

 Your right of navigation on UK tidal waters

We often get asked “where can I use a hovercraft?” by potential buyers. The answer is simple enough and very few of our owners have any issues using their hovercraft. Drive sensibly, with due respect to other water users and public, follow our code of practice, understand what you can and can’t do, where you can and can’t operate your hovercraft - and you should be safe in the knowledge you are breaking no laws.

What we’re looking at here is what your rights are when you occasionally run into an over-officious warden or harbour master who will cite a bye-law or rule which means you should not be operating on ‘his’ patch. To avoid an argument, or being ‘bullied’ it’s wise to be ready with the facts.

Now – we’re not lawyers, let’s be clear about that. But the basis in law of our answer ‘anywhere you can use a boat’ can be simply broken down into a couple of points.

In the UK, we have a Public Right of Navigation (PRN) using a vessel in tidal water.

Hovercraft are vessels, just like boats (Jetski’s aren’t – legally speaking)

The ongoing battle between (primarily) kayakers and fishermen with rights to fish non-tidal rivers is a separate matter altogether (even though it’s proven that the kayaks don’t disturb the fish, but that’s another matter…) But, the PRN in tidal waters an uncontested right. For sure, no cases have been found which disputed the existence of a public right of navigation on tidal waters.

However, there are one or two places around the country where hovercraft have been ‘banned’ using a local bye-law. We strongly contend that this is not legal because the law of England is that public rights can only be extinguished in three ways.

  1. Statute (ie an act of parliament.)
  2. Statutory Authority,
  3. Conditions changing so that the right cannot be exercised,

In 2002, Mr Justice Lightman said “PRN may only be extinguished by legislation or exercise of statutory powers” (Josie Rowland v Environment Agency – 2002.)

 A byelaw is NOT a statutory law – therefore it cannot be used to remove a PRN.

For rivers, the normal reason that the right cannot be exercised is that the river has silted up and is no longer passable by conventional boats - but public rights are not extinguished by non-use for any period of time. This means that even if a boat hasn’t used / cannot use a tidal river, the right still exists.  Lord Lindley in the House of Lords who said “the doctrine ‘once a highway always a highway’ is, I believe, as applicable to rivers as to roads.” 

The foreshore is the area between the high water mark and the low water mark. When the tide is in there is an absolute right to navigate through the water (although not necessarily a right to land a boat or launch one) and so it is not possible to fence off foreshore areas, as this would limit navigation. All foreshore belongs to the Crown unless it has in the past been sold or given away. This has occurred in a few places and there are often bylaws prohibiting bait digging on or near the foreshore, which is probably the most common reason for people to use such areas. In any case such activity is usually prohibited by law in protected areas. However, this activity is clearly a separate matter to the PRN which exists.

The Crown Estate gives what it calls a ‘general permissive consent’ for ‘non-commercial public access’ along the foreshore it controls. Approximately half of the UK foreshore and around half of the tidal riverbeds are owned by the Crown and managed by The Crown Estate, in addition to virtually the entire UK seabed out to 12 nautical miles. The Crown Estate is a landowner and not a regulatory authority and ostensibly the owner of the foreshore by virtue of prerogative right. The same applies to the seabed, being land below mean low water. This, in effect, means that the Crown owns all of it unless it has in the past given it away or sold it.

Other owners of foreshore include, for example, the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, Local Authorities, RSPB, National Trust, MOD and some is in the ownership of private individuals. Beaches are owned, although almost all beaches allow public access, often because of the practical impossibility of preventing it. Ownership does not necessarily revoke the PRN. The judge in the 1864 case of Gann vs Free Fishers of Whitstable said that “The foreshore is owned by the Crown except in those places where the ownership has passed to an individual by grant or adverse possession. Where this has happened the grantee takes it, in general, subject to the public right of navigation.”

While we’re on that, it’s worth mentioning that the judge also ruled that ‘constructed’ pits where the owner has dug out an area which fills with tidal water are legally designated as privately owned. He mentioned gravel pits, but bringing that forward to today, inland waterways constructed to give ‘river’ frontage and inland marinas which are controlled by tidal/sluice gates etc – for instance the Sovereign Marina, Eastbourne (look it up on Google Earth) - may well not have a PRN.

Low water, and travelling over mudflats.

There’s lots of court cases which firmly set the precedent that you have a PRN even when the tide is low and you are navigating over foreshore or seabed – some of which I’ll quote here. Lord Widgery : ‘The public right of navigation in tidal waters is a right given by the common law which extends to the whole space over which the tide flows and is not suspended when the tide is too low for vessels to float.’

This was supported by Sir James Hannen, ‘The rights of all vessels are not co-extensive. It may be reasonable and right that a small vessel should go up to the farthest point she can reach in order to give the public the benefit of the public way.’

Lord Denning, ‘There are many cases where people with canoes have a right to take their canoes up and down a river. They certainly have such a right in tidal waters. The right of soil in arms of the sea and public rivers must in all cases be considered as subject to the public right of navigation”

More recently Park J said, ‘There is a right to navigation over all tidal waters, even where at certain states of the tide the water may disappear from the particular place where the navigation is taking place.’

Interestingly, in 1990, Brotherton Vinelott J held that on a section of the river Derwent which was probably tidal there was no public right of navigation. This part of his judgement was effectively reversed by the parties to the action who, when the case came to the Appeal Court, stated that it was agreed by the parties that there was a right of navigation from Sutton to Stamford Bridge. No reasons were recorded. This would seem to mean that the decision of Vinelott J on this matter is void of any authority. As stated previously, no cases have been found which disputed the existence of a public right of navigation on tidal waters.

In Conclusion.

Hovercraft frustrate authorities due to their ability to operate at low water, over mudflats and to access areas they hadn’t ever considered would be available to recreational ‘boaters.’  That’s not our fault - or problem. We’re boats remember. We have a right which we exercise in accordance with the law and if they prevent such, they are potentially committing a criminal act. Back to what I said at the beginning of this article - behave responsibly, in accordance with the code of practice and I honestly cannot imagine any authority would wish to challenge such operation in court. However, this is our advice only – we’re not lawyers and this case has never been tried. To be fair, it’s never come even remotely close to that in 35 years of hovercrafting!

  • Stand firm!
  • You have a right of navigation on tidal water.
  • A bye-law is not a statutory law and cannot, therefore, remove that right.
  • It is uncontested that the right includes use of a vessel.
  • Hovercraft are legally categorised as vessels.  
  • The PRN extends to the foreshore and seabed.

 Other Matters

There’s two other issues that you need to consider. A harbour master can control access and behaviour within his area of authority. Nothing here is meant to suggest otherwise and you should and must act in accordance with local bye-laws. So, it may be that you need to observe speed limits or request permission to pass through the harbour to avoid conflict with (for instance) commercial traffic or lifeboat operations. Council’s may decide to restrict your ability to launch from their slipways. However, you have an ancillary right to exercise your PRN, and if they control the access and prevent you from launching, they are likely committing a criminal offence in doing so.

The other issue is your legal right to operate in protected areas such as RAMSAR sites, SSSI’s (and a million acronyms!) which are mostly administered by Natural England, and organisation with a huge history of Ultra Vires behaviour. We’ll look into that in a future article.

If, as a hovercraft operator, you do run into any issues where your PRN is challenged, do please let us know.

Happy Hovering!

 

Our MD, Emma Pullen, spoke last week at the launch of 'Women for Britain' - her is the transcript of her speech.

added by Emma on March 14, 2016 at 08:13

Emma spoke at the Launch of Women for Britain last week - alongside fellow businesswoman Paulette Furse, MP's and politcal fihures such as Priti Patel, Anne-Marie Trevalyn and Suzanne Evans.

Below is a transcript of her speech which was met by a standing ovation and a most complimentary article in the Daily Mail by Quentin Letts. The speech has since been reproduced in the Daily Express. Read on to understand why we at The British Hovercraft Company have given our support to a 'Brexit' so that we can better trade within a wider export market that EU laws currently make so difficult.

 

March 8th 2016.

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Emma Pullen, I'm a businesswoman operating a small manufacturing business in Kent and I want the UK to vote leave on June the 23rd.

Being asked to speak here today is no trial to me, as I'm passionately excited about this huge opportunity we have in Britain to take back control of our country, take our place on the world stage and build a bright future for British businesses to flourish outside of the EU.

So a little about me. I’m 36 years old, married with an 8 year-old daughter and live in the political hotspot of Thanet. I love my business and I find it utterly rewarding. I'm proud of what I do and I feel a huge responsibility knowing that 15 staff members are relying on me to find their wages each month. As a friend once said to me “Payday is a lot less exciting when you're the one doing the paying” but I wouldn't have it any other way – in fact after 5 years of working for myself, I think it's likely that I'm completely unemployable!

My business is a small manufacturing company, operating from a rented factory on a wartime industrial estate. Our draughty unit isn't a glamorous looking building, but it's big and it's cheap - and interesting things get built inside it!

80% of our production is export, but almost none of it goes to EU countries – partly because nobody seems to have any money but also because our product falls foul of an EU Directive. Whilst not actually banned, it makes selling and using them within the EU somewhat difficult and as a result, customers opt to spend their money elsewhere. 

So – what do we make in this big old factory that so offends the EU rule makers?

Well, the clue is that my factory is just a mile from the remains of the Pegwell Bay hoverport and my business is called The British Hovercraft Company!

Yes, I build hovercraft!

But not the cross channel hovercraft that once plied their trade to Calais. These are more modest craft used for recreational and commercial purposes such as survey work in tidal estuaries, super-cool tenders for luxury yachts and ice-rescue on frozen rivers.

It's certainly a niche market and a quintessentially British invention - it's creator a Norfolk broads boat builder called Sir Christopher Cockrell and I genuinely get a kick from the fact that in some small way we continue the tradition of this remarkable 1950's Boffin.  Our company name is one of the best decisions we ever made. I've been told by several foreign clients that the word British in the title says to them “Quality, Reliability and Trust' British engineering is admired around the world and that word – 'British' has played its part in establishing us as the world's leading small hovercraft company

By my company doesn't need the EU, in fact we would be much better off without it. For us to be free to fulfil our full potential, we need trade deals with countries that matter.  Wealthy countries, countries with growing economies, emerging nations & our friends in the commonwealth – we lose so many sales to these countries because the EU has failed to negotiate a suitable trade deal. Let me give you one recent example which is fresh in my mind from late last year.

An enquiry from a wealthy Brazilian businessman who wished to order 5 small hovercraft from us for a proposed driving activity centre in Sao Paulo. Purchase price, £50,000 – duty cost in Brazil £42,000. That’s an 80% duty! Needless to say, the deal didn't go ahead and there's been plenty of similar outcomes dealing with other non ‘EU approved’ nations.

Britain is not allowed to make it's own trade deals, and this prevents us from selling our products, bringing money into the UK, growing the business and employing more staff.

Ignore the scaremongering coming from the 'Remain' camp.  This is an incredible opportunity for UK business. One that we, of all nations can exploit to thrive in a fast-changing global marketplace. We can do this! We have the world's 5th largest economy, and we're the 11th biggest manufacturing nation on the planet. Britain supplies products & services that are in demand all around the world – we must make it cheaper and more straightforward for our trading partners to deal with us. 

But you know, there's other reasons aside from my business that move me to stand here today.

I've watched horrified at the mishandling of the Migrant crisis by the EU, seen the misery, economic damage & discord it has caused between the nations of Europe. I've watched it lead to the surge in support for far-right political parties in countries such as France, Greece and Finland.  I'll be honest – it scares me and I fear that the demands made of this country by the EU could eventually see similar parties gain momentum here in Britain.

It frustrates me to see the EU waste such vast sums of our money on ridiculous laws and directives, vanity projects and mind-boggling corruption. Every year we send billions of pounds to an organisation which hasn't been audited in over 20 years!  I'm absolutely at a loss to understand how the IN campaign can live with themselves in defending this. Let's save our money and spend it on hospitals, schools and the most vulnerable in society who have every right to expect help from their own country.  

The EU makes our laws, takes our money and does so with no accountability to the British Public. This is what we have our own MP's for - and if they get it wrong, we can kick them out after 4 years! We've done pretty well on our own since the Romans went home and we've written the democratic blueprint for much of the modern world. How dare Brussels steal that democracy away from us? British MEP's are powerless to influence the myriad of laws that issue forth from Brussels – they are defeated and outvoted over 86% of the time.

The Common Market was a great idea and if it had remained simply as a free market, I wouldn't be here today. But this power creep, this erosion of our democracy and sovereignty isn't what we signed up for.

Let me end by telling you why my heart as well as my head wants to leave the EU.

I'm extremely proud of my late father. He fought at Tobruk in 1941. He wasn't a hero, he was just a lad from Chatham who  knew what had to be done and got on with it in that stolid way his generation did. As a 20 year old Tommy, I doubt he ever even considered it, but he was fighting for #British Sovereignty and freedom. He suffered a lifetime of illness for that cause; many more paid the ultimate price on our behalf. I will never forget that and I see it as a dishonour to The Greatest Generation that everything they fought for is being eroded by our EU membership.

The British showed the world what we're made of in 1940, I believe that fire still beats in our hearts and I pray that June the 23rd will be the day when Britain once again becomes Great Britain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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