Jan 2005

Towed my boat and hovercraft and launched at Berwick upon Tweed.  There is a slipway alongside a quay next to the lifeboat station (only usable a couple of hours either side of high tide). There is plenty of space in the estuary which is well protected from the North Sea.

My brother, his wife and both my kids set off in the boat and Hover up the River Tweed. The river is very wide all the way up to the chain bridge - after that it splits and some channels have weirs and/or rough water. We cruised up the river for about 8 miles or so and reached Norham Castle - the last 1/2 mile or so was difficult for the boat with weirs and white water (no problem for the Hovercraft!). The Hovercraft behaved faultlessly for the whole trip. We stopped at various places - grass banks, pebble beaches and sandbanks. The hover is much better if you don't stop on the water and let the skirt fill with water. I kept the speed down under 35mph most of the time to avoid upsetting anyone - I did 57mph on the way back downriver on a wide stretch. Getting round tight bends on the river is quite exciting - the longest power slides I've ever done! Once we returned to the slipway the tide was well out and I managed to thump the hover nose into the quay at about 5mph due to the current pushing the hover (and no brakes!). I should have approached the slipway going upstream not downstream - lesson learned!


Arranged access at Paxton House (past side of house down track to pebble beach). Launched here and traveled up and down river. At Berwick bridge I collided with a tree stump sticking out of the river and ripped a 6 foot gash in the skirt. I repaired the skirt using cable ties (stitched every 4" or so) and got back up river to the launch point (about 5 miles) with no problem (hover performance didn't seem to be affected at all).


Went to a HCGB Scottish branch meeting held at Livingston. Only four hovers there We played around in a field next to the leisure centre for a couple of hours. Hover kept snagging on the ground and was difficult to turn on the grass - I need more practice I think!


Cruised on river about 25 miles with other hovercrafter.


.Cruised at Berwick upon Tweed


Hoverclub branch meeting at Kirknewton air base (an old RAF airfield near Edinburgh


Tried hovering in field near Denholm on River Teviot. River was too narrow to hover on (only about 4 metres wide).


Lindisfarne hover.


Inchyra hover meeting on River Tay - cruised up river through centre of Perth to Scone Palace. First breakdown!!!!. The rudder cable broke (it rusted through at the joystick). Did about 55miles or so


Visited Kielder again - very hot day - temp was 32C! Lake was very smooth - only 2-5mph wind. Water ranger cautioned me for breaking the 8mph speed limit - oops!.


First real test of Scout at Netherdale sports pitches (about 5 rugby pitches together in one flat area). Very slow to pickup speed but OK once going - noticeable drag on longer grass (4" or so). Spent about four hours - had to re-tension belt after an hour or so.


Went to Paxton house on River Tweed. Launched from sloping beach - craft went OK upriver downwind but wouldn't get back on plane again upwind (or downwind if stopped on water). Nose also bobbed up and down indicating a skirt trim problem? Skirt looked inflated OK front and back but back end wouldn't get out of the hole.



More Scout testing at Netherdale. Measured thrust using spring balance instead of bathroom scales (I suspect the scales were measuring lift as thrust as the craft wanted to climb up the wall) tied to fence post - measure 15-16Kg static (33-35lbs).


Tested Scout again on river at Paxton. Much better - it will now plane out me on my own or two kids together. Takes about 15 seconds or so to plane but it does work. Top speed now about 28mph. Cruised up and downriver for about four hours. Skirt flotation foam detached and came out of drain hole - also lost glass strip on rear panel bottom edge (an exposed foam edge). Noise measurement at 25m on river full throttle around 76dB.


Went to Longniddry and launched Scout onto beach. Worked great, Planes out in deep water OK with me and bow bounce has now gone. Cruised about ten miles with me & son no problem at all (see video on Videos page)!


Tested UltraProp at Paxton in evening - now planes out upstream into 10mph wind OK.


Changed prop pitch to 13degrees - engine now revs to 3100rpm static with 26.4Kg (58lbs) thrust. Cruised from Berwick up to near Coldstream with both craft - Scout excellent even over 2ft waves and up 30degree beach exit ramp. Top speed about 33mph


Met friend Paul at Paxton house and gave him and his mate Eddie a run down to Berwick and back. Wind was 25mph and river had 3 foot chop in places. Worst conditions I've ever hovered in - turning was a bit of a challenge and both passengers ended up a bit wet!.


Took UH18 and Scout and met with other hovercrafter at Musselburgh on the Forth estuary. Cruised about 30 miles or so. Had a couple of problems with the UH18. Firstly, one exhaust pipe broke near the manifold. A section of stainless flexible pipe broke at a joint - I suspect a stress failure due to vibration. I had to stay a bit offshore to avoid annoying anyone with the noise! The trim wing control cable broke at the control stick end (temporarily fixed with cables ties and duct tape - the two essentials in any tool box!). Once home, I fixed the control cable by allowing the outer cable to float (in a section of pipe stiffener). I also re-built the exhaust system using rigid pipe - I shortened it to fit the big silencer below the roof line. The exhaust outlet now points upwards a foot or so below the top of the duct - it may cause more prop noise?


Hovered on Forth Estuary starting from old ferry pier under Forth rail bridge. Traveled down to Edinburgh past Cramond Island and upriver to Hopetoun House - about 25 miles total. Severe wave chop around some points where river flow was fighting the tidal flow - random waves at 2-3 feet - I had water right over the roof a couple of times. Directional control was very difficult in these areas - we were tossed around like corks! New exhaust layout generates a bit more prop noise - I will need to extend the outlet pipe up past the top of the duct again,


Took Scout to Berwick estuary to check new ignition electrics were OK. Cruised about ten miles up river on glass smooth water (bit of a sea swell at launch point though). Rear skirt seems to drag a bit making rudder control a bit difficult.


Re-trimmed rear inner skirt corners by adding triangular shaped fill panels. Took Scout to Paxton on river. Water very smooth. One or other rear corner is definitely dragging - you can't steer at times unless you shift weight to opposite side - craft then pops up at rear and accelerates. Made a paper model of the skirt from the plans and discovered that the rear panel to corner panel joint doesn't line up as implied by the drawings. Emailed Barry to ask for clarification!


Cruised for a couple of hours at Lindisfarne (Holy Island) on North Sea coast - over mud flats, huge beaches and sea (see Videos). Craft skirt trim seems better - the rear corners are no longer dragging. Managed 35mph on wet sand. There was a 15mph wind which made things slow when running directly into it - more engine power may not be a bad thing! I pulled one of the short rear alum skirt strips off when driving over the causeway road - it has 12" rocks placed along the road edge to make it more visible - and to damage hovercraft! The skirt continues to impress me - the mudflats had almost invisible 12" drops in the surface which the Scout just bobbed over with no hull contact!