« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2022, 8:37 am »
Hi Simon,  I would be very happy to do a run out of Weston as and when you find a craft.   

A bit off topic, but if you intend to operate in the Bristol Channel I would strongly advise a segment skirt and a professionally made craft such as a BBV - I've never had experience with BHC so can't comment on those.

 IMHO it is worth sacrificing a bit of performance and weight for a really robust hull and reliability.  There are an awful lot of nasties out there on the mud flats waiting to bite.  I had both types - a BV and a Sev and sadly sold the Sev.  It was a lovely craft for cruising, but too lightweight to to survive long term where we operate from Uphill.  Think:   hitting a metal stake sticking out of the mud flats about 300 mm above the surface - or running into a lot of them.  A heavily build GRP craft will be more likely to survive and the segment skirt has more chance of getting you home  :-)  Sadly we have to deal with lots of mud flats in the BC.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2022, 10:17 am by John Robertson »

« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2022, 5:37 pm »
Keith Oakley, from the UK Hoverclub , has done extensive work on the noise small hovercraft generate. He designed a semi circle frame with microphones attached, which was then mounted over a tethered integrated craft , this was then run up to full power and readings taken. The result was then a "picture" of where the most noise comes from. Typically the splitter plate, flow straighteners , drive in front of fan, blade tip speed , silencers etc.   When all of these "hot" spots are dwelt with , you end up with a quiet cruiser but its not a racer !    I have found that a twin engine craft can be a quiet cruiser , the lift can be tucked away and using a large prop for thrust is so much better.  Regards, Francois Malan

« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2022, 2:43 pm »
As some of you know, I am a regular cruiser and myself, my wife and many friends regularly go out for a couple of hours either in our area - Mersey estuary or Morecambe Bay and often further afield. There are often a variety of craft which come along - yes, many of us fly BHC Marlins, (which you sit in, not kneel) and these are very suitable for a lot of people - easy to own, load/unload, but there is a good spread of other larger craft too - BBV's (3's 6's) Hovpods (fibreglass and plastic) Ospreys and others too. Its all about getting on and doing it! I have a large cruise coming up this coming weekend, and as always, everyone is welcome.

« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2022, 10:03 pm »
Ross I'd love to come out .....once I find a suitable craft . If we get more visible then there is more of a chance that the few people who maybe inclined towards hovering would want to join in, I'm sure thats why the medway area is so active, the proximity of a manufacturer publicising its wears.  Advertising our presence and being more visible (sometimes) followed up with a club night might do it, the  best way to meat fellow novices and knowledgeable old hands and talk all things hovery, get people  excited, planning trips, talking equipment and of course building craft because I cant see away around that .unless you want to kneel or spend a lot of cash. That would encourage me.

« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2022, 8:19 pm »
I have been a member if this club for a few years, my craft is still under construction.
I live in Scotland west coast and have on only one occasion met some of the hovercrafters on Loch fine , good friendly guys.

Loch fyne  is easily accessible to me within an hours drive.

However my only other experience of being a member of a club is the MG owners club for 20 years, what worked for us was having regional branches where we would meet up at a pub once a month that was central to all of us, for many of us we would need to drive for up to an hour to attend a meeting, no one struggled with this.

Some of us had cars that were still under restoration or on the road. The point is we had many regional members. We organised local events where people could come along and join in whether you had a car or not, and we swapped tips, knowlage and advice which was of great value to all. So perhaps regional branches could help.

« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2022, 5:36 pm »
We have a very active group on the Medway but most of them have BHC craft but those that can afford it have moved to craft such as the IH3.
The thing is, these people want to buy a craft and use it, not build one and that's a market that BHC cater for. It's a shame that there aren't more manufacturers who provide "ready to use" craft.
TBH, small, easy to store craft will often be the go to choice for a lot of people. It is a big commitment to go to a larger craft with the storage and launching implication which is a real big issue in the South East.

« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2022, 10:24 am »
There is also a lack of suitable hovercraft.  I'm not getting at the BHC, but realistically what alternatives are there?  Simple answer none!  To get a proper cruising hovercraft with space onboard, that you are not sat in a crouched position, you have to build it yourself from plans, even then very limited choice of models.  Not everyone wants to or is capable of building one from plans and want a turn key hover.  which then takes us back to only limited models available which are not everyone's cup of tea

Catch 22  :-\

« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2022, 10:21 am »
What type of craft are available to non builders?

As Simon says ones that look old ( I presume that means Sevs).which only come on the market occasionally.
Or ones you Kneel down in ( I presume that means BHC)

If I was coming into the sport again and I hadn’t found Al’s Surveyor, I would have done something else other than hovering.
This is the BIG problem.
Everyone skirts around it and asks the same question over and over again…..why are we a minority sport?

What is the available craft that you can buy that doesn’t look old or you have to kneel down in.

Answers in a post card or sealed down envelope please.
I know the answer……….but I haven’t got to say it.

« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2022, 10:10 am »
Advert in practical boat owner?
Memories are BETTER than Dreams---"Capn" FLINT

« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2022, 9:42 am »
I agree local venues are important, as Ross mentioned not everyone wants to do the longer cruises although these cruises have an appeal all their own. The short day cruise is probably more popular.
Increasing use and popularity needs addressing on different levels.

People with craft who don't use them.

People struggling to finish craft (enthusiasm/technical issues)

Attracting new members with the financial means to operate a craft and the time/enthusiasm to operate craft

Increasing the club profile is at one end of the spectrum while technical support is at the other with advice on venues local group activity somewhere in the middle.

I suspect a good source of new blood could be boaty types, I've no evidence to support that.

There's no such thing as bad weather, you're just wearing the wrong jacket!!

« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2022, 7:38 am »
I'm with Ombor, there must be a middle way a craft which doesn't look old or where you have to kneel down .online is great for connecting with the world but down the pub is better (even for a non drinker). Scotland, medway,rhone all look great but we need local wherever we live.to thrive hovering needs a bigger profile so that the few who might take up the pastime can see it exists. I'll join you when I find my elusive ride , (I've even looked at a christy)

« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2022, 5:16 pm »
Thanks everyone for your input so far. We will leave the thread running for a while longer as some folk don't get to look at the forum as often as other others... :)

« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2022, 12:58 pm »
Hi Al, seems a well covered article for discussion.………… I live in the WIRRAL and there are countless miles of beautiful beaches and water including sailing boats et cetera.    There are no Noisy Hovercraft with thrashing propellers except the lifeboat.   I would suspect the only way to change this situation is to build small very quiet lightweight craft acceptable to the local people.   I used to love Messing about on the river For a couple of hours then going home for tea with as little hassle as possible. Just perhaps this could suit other groups of people with less money and time building up the Hovercraft community.Alf.

« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2022, 10:14 am »

Second attempt - reformatted as a .txt file and pasted :

A few comments and suggestions in no particular order:

The Club is a very useful resource that was started in response to a lack of support for cruising hovercraft, or to be precise, for operators who didn’t want to be involved in competition. It was very active and campaigned for our rights at Weston and Langstone.   There were regular hover-ins that were actively promoted and involved advice, help and training. These were a great place for people to get together and form local friendship groups, leading to further activity.

However local activity seems to have reduced and we have lost the initial enthusiasm and drive.  I would go as far as to ask if we have lost our way and are more a group of isolated individuals who correspond electronically and operate home built long distance cruising craft. The web based side is excellent but we seem to have contracted into a few local areas with a smaller number of more experienced operators while the less dedicated enthusiasts have fallen away. This is a normal part of the growth cycle of a club, but post Covid do we need to rekindle the occasional users interest in our hobby as that is where most members sit ?   The old 80/20 rule.

Cruising isn’t just about long distance trips. The origin of the club was that it was for people who didn’t want to race. Are we putting operators off by promoting a type of activity that many don’t want to undertake or feel confident about?  My idea of a cruise is an hour up the coast, a cuppa and a potter home again in time for tea and sticky buns, not a 50 mile endurance test. Some people are happy with a 100 mile run but many want a shorter and less intense form of operation – just going out with others for a short trip and a chat on the beach.

It would be good to see more promotion of local meets. I tried to run events in the Bristol Area but there has been no take up and it seems that the Severn/Bristol Channel area has gone under the club radar.  It may be there are no hovercraft about these days but we used to get a good response to events promoted by the club - remember the regular Sharpness event – that was brilliant – I organised the Avon run that was rammed with craft and the Run to the Wrecks. We also pioneered the Permit Launching Scheme at Weston. There is just one craft registered now. Where have they all gone? Is this the way the club has developed or are hovercraft no longer the attraction they once were? Are we neglecting a major aspect of our sport?

For many members attendance at an event means long distance travel and then accommodation. Aside from the cost of fuel, that isn’t practical unless you have a motor home or a secure place to park the craft and local accommodation. Camping isn’t for everyone, especially as you get older, so perhaps regional events are a way forward.

For some of us, a major but hidden disincentive of going to a new event in an unknown location is the potential hassle of finding somewhere to park a big trailer and tow car with the parking restrictions that seem to exist in any waterside location.
It is supposed to be a hobby and wondering if you will get a parking ticket and unload/load safely spoils it for me. I appreciate that it is difficult to find suitable places but I have noticed that when good parking, storage and launching is part of the event and clearly detailed, more craft seem to take part.

I would like to see club resources and promotion of new events outside the current core areas, promotion of the sport and charity activities to raise the profile. This will promote interest in the craft and get people involved. Raising money for a charity usually gets publicity and seems to make people more inclined to join in. It also opens doors for launching, hospitality and even escort boats – and benefits the chosen organisation !

Are we offering any training these days ?  We used to hold the occasional day near Bristol and it brought people together and was great fun. It also promoted safer operation, we had the RNLI man in to give advice and we then did a training run to qualify new pilots at Sharpness. There was little interest last time it was suggested but if the idea was promoted by the Club as a formal event and some added activities included, it might be different ?

A few suggestions:

Active promotion and organisation of local cruising events – encourage, advise and support members who attempt something in their area.

Training days.  We had a superb training programme run by Ian.

Attendance at local shows ( static or demonstration ).

Involvement in water safety events.

Publicity activities, charity runs etc.

High profile charity events – how about a round Britain relay … possibly suicidal but it would be a first !

New stickers and promotional stuff as part of the membership package.

BUT … you can’t expect individual members to arrange events without encouragement and enthusiasm from the top. Creating an event is a daunting and complicated job and must be a top down process with active support and encouragement, even if local members do much of the work. Support from a national organisation greatly helps and opens doors otherwise closed to individuals.   I am sure that if members are encouraged to suggest and help arrange local events with advice and assistance provided by the club, then activity will increase.

Well said Ross.

« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2022, 9:59 am »
From my experience and looking at the events that take place around the UK "which are few and far between" it is usually the same few people that make the effort to attend.  Everyone has their reasons/excuses for not attending, but as already mentioned a big factor for a lot of people is not having the spare money or the time to make the journeys involved.  For me Loch Fyne is only about 160 miles away (4 to 5 hours drive)  but for me to take a hovercraft, would mean I then need to either rent a cottage, chalet/caravan or make 4 journeys, if I left the hovercraft down there and then went back to collect our caravan.  The costs then soon add up. It's the same for everyone that doesn't own a motorhome. 

Not sure why there aren't more local organised or informal hovercraft cruises?  There seems to be a fair bit of activity on the Medway though, Maybe more hovercraft owners down there?  I've tried a couple of times to organise cruises in Lochcarron and the attendees enjoyed themselves, but as above the usual few made the effort to attend.  But again it involves big journeys, a week or so out of peoples annual leave, there are no guarantees that the weather will allow for any hovercrafting to take place.     

It is difficult to pinpoint the reasons why.  John in particular as well as Steve, Ian and a few others have gone above and beyond to push hover-crafting and to show it's an all year round sport/hobby not just a summer sport, but still the hovercraft numbers stay low.