« Reply #1 on: Feb 18, 2012, 6:18 pm »
Where are you going to use it?

It’s important to consider your proposed operating area when choosing a hovercraft. For example, if your local slipway is tiny and you have a small tow-car you wouldn’t want an 18ft 4 seater. Conversely, if your local area is a major estuary or open water, then you would be considering the security that comes with a larger craft. Here we see a large (18ft) cruiser dwarfed in ferry terminal at Hull.

Remember that the sea-keeping ability is directly related to size, bigger is better in this respect. Buy the largest craft that you can afford, unless you expect to trade up once you have gained a year or so experience.


Operation on beaches is a bad idea – if it is in any sense public, then you will undoubtedly attract unwanted attention pretty quickly if you are operating on the beach. Usually the local authority will be along to shoo you away. Having said that, launching from the beach is OK, which means turning up, offloading and making a single pass out onto the water and away to sea. This generally gets quite positive comment, so long as you choose a quiet beach and do not then spend all day going round in small circles in the bay. This last point is really important – under no circumstances take a craft onto a popular beach - it just isn’t safe. Check with local members to find out what is Ok and what is not.


Most mudflats are SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and are protected under the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981. This is a complex area, and if you damage the things in the area that are ‘notified’ in the ‘SSSI citation’ you could leave yourself open to prosecution and fine up to £20k! The Club can help by identifying the “notified features” and helping you to ensure you do not damage them, and in some cases we also deal directly with Natural England in relation to Hovercraft issues. It's important to note that as vessels, we have the right to operate in most tidal water even if it is a SSSI.

So if you wish to go “gulley hopping” make sure you have done your homework and the place you wish to operate is not a SSSI, bird or wildlife reserve. As an example, almost all of the mudflats around the Mersey (and around England for that matter) are SSSI and operating on the mud, other than bona-fide navigation, could get you into trouble.

In general, if you are on the water and at least 100m from the shore, then you will be OK, although there will be people who will tell you otherwise. Again, refer to the Club for advice.

Operational area and Craft Size

Obviously open water and estuaries such as the Clyde favour a larger craft, whereas sheltered waters such as the Medway estuary will be fine for a smaller craft.

« Last Edit: Oct 31, 2017, 7:54 pm by Ian Brooks »
Ian Brooks
Gloucester, UK