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Hovercraft cruising is a unique activity that combines the relaxation of motorboat cruising with the excitement of a fast sports boat - but without the navigation limitations or launch hassle of either!  It's a very environmentally friendly motorised water sport!

What is a cruising hovercraft?
A cruising hovercraft is a two to five seat amphibious recreational water craft. Unlike other water craft, it “glides” over the water surface on a cushion of air rather than being in the water.   It is a unique craft and its capabilities and low environmental impact are little understood.

Racing hovercraft are a different design to cruising hovercraft in terms of noise, speed and marine safety - they are unsuitable for cruising use. Cruising craft are based on sound marine engineering and provide economic, quiet and comfortable leisure use.

Hovercraft are essentially zero-draft boats - they don't actually need any water at all!  They can travel into areas that boats cannot reach providing a totally unique experience for the passengers.

Where can I use a hovercraft?
Cruising hovercraft can be used any place that a boat can be used. They have the same navigation rights (and responsibilities!) as any other watercraft.  Tidal water is normally freely navigable and you can also use the tidal section of rivers or estuaries and even inland waterways such as lakes (with the consent of the owner or operator).Hover-cruising meetings held throughout the UK during the year where everyone is welcome (check the calendar for details).

If you want to see what hovercruising is really all about then take a look in the HovTube Video Area where you will find many clips  - (there are plenty more on YouTube!).

The Hoverclub has a strict Code of Conduct for Cruising to help hovercraft pilots operate safely and considerately.

If you are a club member then you will find the How to find a Cruising Site guide will help you find suitable launch spots (also try Boat Launch for boat launch sites that you can also use.    In addition, we provide a list of UK hovercraft Launch Sites with suggested destinations and any local navigation and safety information. Many other documents are also available to members to help with water access (Environmental Impact Report, Managed Access SchemeA Guide for Water Authorities, etc.).  The Hoverclub provide active support to members who have access problems in their area.  As a member, you can register your hovercraft with us to gain exclusive access to several unique areas around the UK.
 
Why not just use a boat?

  • Boats can't safely operate in shallow water or where there are underwater obstacles or debris
  • Boats can't be landed on the shore without worrying about tidal movement - hovercraft can!
  • Boats need to anchor or moor or be removed from the water (a complicated and risky procedure) - hovercraft can be driven back onto land and "parked" until they are next used.
  • Hovercraft use much less fuel than a typical motor boat.
  • Boats have surface piercing hulls and propellers and water-polluting exhausts - hovercraft have none of these things, they don't generate a damaging wake or pollute the water!
  • Boats need slipways or smooth hard surfaces to launch from which are tide state dependent. Hovercraft can be launched (driven), without causing damage, over grass banks, mud flats or almost any surface onto water (and can even safely cross beaches or mudflats to reach the water no matter how far out the tide is!).
There isn't a great deal of difference in sea handling capability between a hovercraft and a boat of similar size.

The most common question people ask about a hovercraft is "will it float if the engine stops?" - the answer is YES, cruising hovercraft have full positive buoyancy and can be safely stopped on water indefinitely (fishing and just floating around are popular activities).

Where can I get a hovercraft?
You can buy a new cruising hovercraft from several UK Manufacturers - take a look at the manufacturers and suppliers list,    Second hand craft do occasionally come up for sale but not that often (the For Sale section on this site lists club members craft for sale).   

Seemingly bargain craft sometimes appear on eBay but they are best avoided unless the seller can demonstrate that it IS actually a cruising hovercraft and not just a toy!  Take a look at the Buyers Guide - it contains a lot of very useful information on second hand hovercraft and some of the pitfalls to avoid when buying (our club members would be happy to answer any questions you may have).
 
An alternative is to build your own hovercraft - it's not quite as daunting as it might sound! With good plans, components or kit it is fairly straightforward (check out the Builders Guide and the Plans page)

In any case take a look at our Hovercraft Database - it has a full list a all available craft whether factory built, plans, or kits.


Unless you have extensive knowledge of hovercraft we strongly recommend that you don't try to design your own! They are much more complicated than they might look - the chances of your design being successful are not good!  Take a look at our hover-calculators page for examples of some of the basic maths required.
   
How do I learn to drive a hovercraft?
It actually isn't too difficult to master the basics once you get over the initial "floating around out of control" stage! The Hoverclub run basic training courses during the year (keep an eye on the calendar for announcements) which will quickly get you past the first stage and also provide you with very important safety knowledge (club members can view the training presentation}. The RYA also run many suitable safety courses - the most appropriate for hovercraft use are "Basic Navigation and Safety" and the "Marine Radio - (Short Range Certificate)" courses.

Although there is no legal requirement for a hovercraft licence in the UK,  the Hoverclub operate a pilots licensing scheme which will help keep you safe and improve your skills.

What about insurance?
Affordable hovercraft liability insurance has been arranged with several insurers by the HoverClub (more details can be found HERE).  Liability insurance is a requirement at many local authority launch sites.