7/1/07

Decided that as it was a nice day, sunny and warmish (10C) I would meet with Peter and go hovering up the river.  We left Berwick at around 12:30 and had a nice cruise up river going past the highest point I'd reached before (about 25 miles).  We had no problems as the river was in full flow (about 5mph current on even the wide bits). 

We managed to get over the biggest weir I've seen - it was around 6 foot level change with a 30degree slope and had a wall of water flowing over the entire length (with a 2 foot deep trough on the downriver side together with the usual white water after that.  I couldn't get a decent run at it so at full power the craft just crested the weir top (nose was way out of the water!). 

We had decided at that point to turn back but then thought we would wait until we reached Kelso (another couple of miles).  As we rounded a fast flowing narrow corner in the town we came across blue flashing lights with a couple of fire engines, ambulances and police with a crowd on one bank - so much for trying to sneak up river without being spotted!  Both of us had yellow jackets so the fire guys thought we were rescue personnel so waved us over to the bank.   A guy had jumped from the old bridge into the water and was hanging onto the downriver side of one of the bridge piers - the water was flowing very fast around the piers with around a one foot level change up to down river.  He had been in the water for over an hour at this time and was very near to letting go.  The emergency services had a small boat but the river was flowing too fast and was too turbulent for them to use it safely.  We offered help in getting a line across to the guy.  After much messing around and discussion (with personnel and equipment in and out out craft) we were told to immediately go across to the guy.  By this time the craft had been sitting in the water for about 20 minutes and the skirts were full.  To make things worse the rear skirt had been damaged by a log sitting underwater on the bank.  As I tried to quickly get onto hover the damage and weight of water caused a huge skirt rip at one corner.  The skirt tore from the inner attach strip to the outer in a single cut and also then ripped away from the inner attach strip right around the corner for about four feet.   With hindsight, I should have let the skirt drain for longer but the fire guys were pushing us on as it was a real emergency.  At this point a Police diver was put into the water up river and got a life jacket onto the guy in the water.  He was then pulled across to the river bank and taken to hospital.

I attempted to repair the skirt using cable ties but it was impossible as the tear was right under the craft.  Unless I had scuba gear there was no way of reaching to the inner attach strip in freezing water (I couldn't work my fingers well enough after a few minutes to even put a cable tie together!    We decided to try the craft in "Boat" mode.  It worked fine, steering was a bit slow and you couldn't apply much power without causing a severe list to the damaged skirt side.  I cut some more slits in the skirt to allow water drainage and we set off downriver again.  We managed to make about 7-8mph for a few miles before it started to get dark.   It was still possible to see on the water fairly well until the clouds rolled over and the rain started - it then got really black  (good thing I fitted lights a couple of months ago as you couldn't see the bank at all).   Luckily, we passed the really big weir early on - even in good light it was so high that it was invisible until you were about 10 metres from it - quite scary!  The craft actually popped over the weirs and rough water without any problem at all even though it wasn't hovering.  I did side swipe a bridge buttress at Coldstream (the current swept us sideways at the last minute) and ripped the skirt on the other side just to add to the damage!  Our progress slowed quite a bit (4-5mph) when we reached the wider, slow lower river.

I then got a mobile call when we were about 2 miles from the coast from the Police!   The Coastguard had noticed my trailer parked up and had started a search operation as it was dark.  Despite insisting that we were perfectly safe and had power, steering and lights and had already come 25 miles downriver, the inshore lifeboat appeared up river to escort us back to the harbour.    20 minutes later we arrived at the slipway.  I then wet-recovered the craft without any problems and headed home (it was now 9:30pm - it took 5 hours to go downriver and 2 hour upriver!).

I've now got to figure out how to lift the rear of the hovercraft so I can get to the inner skirt attach points (the skids)!  see Prospector maintenance for details of the repairs.

3/2/07

Went for a short river cruise - about 20miles.  Weather was unseasonably warm - about 12C and sky was clear. 

I tested out the skirt repairs to make sure they hadn't caused any trim problems - they hadn't.  I also intended to try out an air jack I've just bought - my intention was to try it in water to see if the bag flotation lifts the craft out of the water enough to make working on the skirt easier.  Unfortunately, the river was still too high and I couldn't find a shallow enough section!

I traveled down to the coast - the sea was calm but had a BIG swell on it - the seasickness type!

13/2/07

Another nice Spring day in February??  Traveled down to coast and ran up and down river for a total of 30miles with the Scout and Prospector.  Scout is very nippy - it can easily out run the Prospector in the twisty river sections and was hitting 37MPH on the flat open bits - it feels very fast when you are sitting so close to the water surface!

I tried to test out an the air jack but I couldn't push it far enough under the craft as the water is still freezing!

Added a couple of new Videos from this trip.

4/3/07

Took UH18 and Prospector to coast with brother and wife.  Cruised upriver for about 15 miles or so.  UH18 is very fast compared to Prospector.  It also uses much less fuel - about half the amount he Prospector used.  It's a bit too fast on some of the twisty river sections!  

Added a new Video from this trip.

If you look really carefully you might just be able to make out the UH18 disappearing around the next river bend - by the time I'd fiddled around with the camera it was nearly gone!

4/4/07

Took Scout to river to check new skirt trim.  Blue sky and temperature of 21C.  I had to trim a very small amount (about 5mm) from the partition skirt to stop the nose bounce.  Craft reached 37mph on smooth water against a slight wind (about 3-4mph).

5/4/07

Took Prospector to Kielder Water.  Cruised around for four hours or so - beautiful day - sunny and warm.  Fly past videos here

6/4/07

Took Scout to river to check new skirt trim on water.

 

26/5/07

Little river cruise to check out trailer before Ardgartan

 

Ardgartan Hover-in

 

Participants/Craft

John Robertson                  -          Sevtec Prospector & UH18SP

Matt Robertson                  -          Sevtec Scout

Ian & Nathan Brooks          -          Sevtec Surveyor

Steve Holland                   -           Sevtec Vanguard

Trevor Black                      -          Osprey 5

Chris & Jenny Campbell      -           Flying Fish Marlin

Martin Dougall                   -          Flying Fish Marlin

Keith & Anita Oakley          -          Noise measurement system

Tony & Jackie Shepherd       -          Scrutineering training and driver testing

Malc and Barry                   -          With boat – just for fishing of course!

 

See videos page for clips of the event!

Monday May 28th:

Arrived 12:30pm and unloaded craft.  Went for short cruise around bay and saw someone waving from campsite.  Landed on beach and met Chris & Jenny Campbell, Martin Dougall and Malc and his mate Barry.

 


Ian Brooks turned up around 1pm and unloaded his Surveyor. He needed to make a repair to a rudder that had broken in transit.

In the afternoon we all went for cruise down Loch Long past the oil terminal and Loch Goil.

Ian Brooks and Nathan in Surveyor next to oil terminal.

 

Chris & Jenny near head of Loch Goil.

Weather conditions were OK - overcast with a NNE wind about 10mph.  On return trip into wind, the wind speed had increased to around 17mph and the Loch had 2ft waves (breaking tops) in places.  Ten minutes after arrival it was flat calm again!!

Tuesday May 29th

Took Prospector to top of Loch and re-filled fuel from filling station (just across the road from the Loch) – we has used about 20litres total for both craft.  Ferried Ian and Nathan Brooks from their flat (on shore) back to Launch site.  Weather conditions calm with slight drizzle.

Met with others and we took a cruise down Loch Long and up Loch Goil (about 11miles).  Weather conditions OK down Loch Long but Loch Goil had fairly stiff chop and a headwind.  Found (the only!) pub and had lunch.  On return journey we passed a barge (it had about four containers on deck) that was producing a huge bow wave (about four feet).  The Prospector had water over the bow when passing over these waves!  The other craft were much nearer shore - a lot further away from the barge.  Also passed RN supply ship, a police launch and a large trawler on return trip.  Ian’s prop belt broke about 2 miles from home – he got towed back on hover by a boat.  He arranged to collect a replacement from Cumbernauld the next day.

 

Craft on shore at Lochgoilhead village

Met Tony Cowan – hover crafter who was staying at Lochgoilhead.  He also visited the Launch site at Ardgartan

Ian’s rescue

Wednesday May 30th

Keith Oakley carried out some basic noise tests.  Entire group cruised down to the Holy Loch – about 18 miles into Clyde estuary. Stopped at Ardentinny beach on return.

Osprey5 and Scout cruising by the entrance to Loch Goil

Surveyor passing the old torpedo testing station (torpedoes were fired down Loch Long to test motors and guidance during WWII)

The photo platform!

Thursday May 31st

Did some scrutineering and training with Tony Shepherd.  He said that none of the Sev craft would pass due to a variety of reasons.  Guards too close to prop tips,  no rear handling points, seats not fixed, etc.

Craft noise tests carried out under Keith’s “hoop” – had to hold hoop up as Prospector was too tall to fit under it!

Two Flying fish craft with Surveyor cruising by.

A stop on Ardentinny beach

Parked on slip at Holy Loch

The gang (apart from the Photographer - me!)

 

Friday June 1st

Cruise to Lochgoilhead (without me!).  I collected my UH18 from home - got back around 3pm just as cruisers returned.  Made several high speed runs in UH18 down loch (about 63mph).  Noise tests repeated under “hoop”

Steve Holland arrived with his new Vanguard. He hadn't driven a hovercraft before so with a bit of last minute encouragement and advice we lined him up down the beach and off he went.  Ten minutes later he was back - absolutely amazed!  His craft ran for the remaining days at every opportunity - he is completely hooked!

Vanguard maiden voyage 

Blue UH18 GPS track overlaid onto Google Earth map - guess where the launch site was!  The UH18 showed 130miles total distance - the Prospector GPS 280miles.

Saturday June 2nd

Weather was very changeable so individual hovering done locally. F/fish trailered ready to return in morning. 

Did my driving test with Tony Shepherd - lucky I passed as I've only got about 600 hours driving experience!!  Gave Tony and Jackie (his wife) a ride in the Prospector.  Jackie was amazed at how comfortable and stable the craft was - she is used to getting soaked in their BBV3.  Tony was very enthusiastic about the Sev design - he fully intends to build one as soon as possible!  He realised that the non-fixed seats where comfortable and perfectly safe due to the plough in resistance and general easy handling of the craft.

Gave ride to next-door site owner and friends - so we will be allowed to come back again!

Scout, Vanguard and Prospector with owners!

Sunday June 3rd

Absolutely peed down with rain all day – did a little hovering (and Trevor and Matt some fishing) but not that much. Trevor left for home in evening.

Monday June 4th

Cruised down the Ardentinny beach then up to Lochgoilhead with UH18, Vanguard and Prospector.  Fair chop around mouth of Loch Goil (about 2.5ft waves).  We were stopped by the police launch that patrols the are near to the armaments depot on the way down Loch Long.  They hadn't seen hovercraft before and were confused by the "boats" coming down the Loch making no wake!  They also told us there was a 12mph speed limit on Loch Long as it was part of the Clyde estuary and a Queens Harbour area!  They weren't too worried once they had spoken to us so we carried on (not at 12mph!) 

Trailered Prospector and Scout and left for home at same time as Steve - around 5pm.

Tuesday June 5th

Returned to site to collect UH18 and clear up. Couldn’t resist a little 10mile solo cruise – weather conditions were perfect!!

 

15/7/07

The weather has been appalling for the last month (rain every day, high winds - a typical Scottish summer!).  Made a trip down to the coast with Prospector.  travelled up river about ten miles or so. 

Wind was quite high - about 20-25mph.  On the return trip downriver the tide was coming in and the wind was blowing directly upriver - there were two foot waves moving upriver - and this was more than 5 miles inland!  Short clip HERE

 

22/7/07

Weather looked promising for the afternoon so I arranged to meet with Trev at Fisherrow (a slip onto a beach on the Forth we have used before.  I got a call when almost there from Trev to say that the council had installed a locked barrier on the slip!!  After a bit of searching around we had to use the beach (rocky and dirty gravel) at Port Seton next to the power station.  We launched the three craft and set off up the coast.

 

Sea was very calm - only a small swell in places - with 3-5mph winds - perfect!.

Scout and Osprey5 with the Fife coast in the background.

After a short stop on Portobello beach to take a closer look at a slipway we stopped off on a beach on Cramond Island for  a bit of exploration.

 

We then travelled up to South Queensferry under the Forth rail bridge.

After a short stop we then tried to stop on Inchcolm island - however, the warden was not very welcoming - he complained that we were disturbing the sea birds (It isn't the nesting season and there were only a few birds in the bay on the island). We set off again across toward Edinburgh (about six miles).  I drove around a large offshore support ship anchored in the middle of the estuary in deep water.  We traveled back across about five miles of open water and then down the south coast stopping off at the hovercraft ferry ramp at Seafield - handy for smaller hovercraft too!

We were asked by a lot of people how much we charged for rides!  Could have made a fortune if only we could get insurance!  Beach was very quiet for a sunny Sunday.

We then carried on down the coast passing our launch point and headed towards Aberlady bay near Gullane.  The bay has very shallow sands and the tide was coming in fast (about two feet every minute across the sand!).

We parked about 15 feet from the edge of the inlet only ten minutes ago!

We stopped to watch a large group of seals (about 20 or so) making their way up an inlet into the bay (the rising tide was obviously allowing them to swim up the inlet).

Finally headed back to the launch site and packed up for home (past 8pm by now!).  My GPS switched itself off part way through the day but I reckon we must have traveled at least 60 miles.  No craft problems or any other issues at all - another successful hovercraft outing!  See Video page for some clips.

 

8/8/07

It was a beautiful summers day - warm and sunny (makes a change as the weather this year has been terrible!!).  Took Scout and Prospector to Berwick to check new Scout prop drive setup (new belt, pulley ratio and prop pitch) and new Prospector partition skirt trim..  We launched from the beach ramp as usual and proceeded up river for around 14 miles.  The Scout is very fast at accelerating - the top speed now shows as 37.4MPH (no wind and flat water) on the GPS.  The Prospector trim seems better - much less side spray and generally easier to handle.  I lengthened the partition skirt by around 1/4" or so (it was about 3/4" from the ground at trim height).

After returning to the coast we traveled on the sea for a bit.  The water was quite rough - 3ft waves on the beach and a 2-3ft chop over a swell further out.  See videos.

18/8/07

Took Scout and boat to Ardfern on the West coast of Scotland for a weeks holiday.  Weather forecast wasn't good (gales and rain) which is why I took my boat instead of the Prospector!  In reality the weather was excellent, several days of almost zero wind.  Ardfern is located at the inner end of a 5 mile long sea Loch (Loch Craignish) with about 6 islands and opens out onto the Sound of Jura (the inner Hebrides). 

The hand points the way to Ardfern!

We unloaded the Scout from the car roof (the air drive is trailered inside the boat cabin) and assembled it.  After a short ten minute run the engine cut out then wouldn't run at all.  The problem turned out to be a shorted fuel cutoff solenoid on the bottom of the carb (rust again).  The solenoid was not repairable and I couldn't get one locally (or nationally for that matter!).  I bit of a bummer as I'd just trailered the Scout for 220 miles on terrible roads and wasn't going to be able to use it :-((.  See Scout Maintenance for how I eventually fixed it!

Out in the Sound of Jura

One of the really calm days on Loch Craignish.

The only other maintenance problem I had with the Scout in over 120 miles of cruising was that the drive belt went slack.  One of the idler bracket mount holes had split allowing the idler to move sideways - easily fixed!

Trip videos are HERE

Just opposite the end of Loch Craignish (about 5 miles across the sea) is the Gulf of Corryvrecken between the islands of Jura and Scarba.  The worlds 3rd largest whirlpool appears in this gulf twice daily as the tide changes.  The whirlpool is created by the tidal flow between the islands passing around an undersea pillar or spike and actually rises about 2 metres in the centre (rather then the downward suck of a normal whirlpool).  Needless to say, we kept well clear of this area!!

2/9/07

Took a trip to the river Tay estuary in Fife.  Met up with Trev and Steve and we launched on the south bank of the estuary at Newburgh.  It was pretty windy (about 15-20mph with fair chop) so we decided to travel upriver through Perth as it should be more sheltered.  The guy who allowed us to use the launch site (David Clark of Tay Salmon Fisheries) had arranged for a local paper interview (the Dundee Courier).  After all the photo shoot stuff was done we set off upriver.

We had a short stop for some essential "maintenance" on a gravel bank before continuing on.

 

Traveling through the centre of Perth.

Another "rest" stop!  What is it about traveling on water (and I'm not the only one who suffers from this)??

We made out way upriver past Stanley where there was a big mill on the rivers edge.  

This mill had a water mill that diverted water across a river loop to generate power.  The large weir upstream had three small breaks in it - the water flow rate and level drop was pretty impressive through these gaps!  All the craft passed through the weirs with ease.  The river has wide, smooth stretches as well as rocky rapids and fast narrow sections - a very interesting and challenging environment for any type of craft (not surprisingly, the only other craft we saw were canoes).

There are some very nice properties on the river edge - varying from "classical" large houses to ultra modern steel/glass types.  The house above had a large deck built overhanging the river on the crumbly sandstone cliff.  They had an almost vertical stair (on the left) from the rivers edge up to the top.

Parked on a sandbank near Scone Palace.  The river has silica sand banks (sea sand) way upstream - they must have been deposits from eons ago as they can't have been created by river action.

An Osprey being harassed by a sparrow hawk (or maybe a Falcon?).

Rounding the corner at Perth Harbour.

We covered around 50miles or so in 5 hours.

Trip video compilation is HERE

16/9/07

We attended a local vintage car show and ran craft around trailer park.  Gave a few "unofficial" rides and created quite a bit of interest

5/10/07

Traveled 350miles south to the HCGB Severn Treasure Hunt event.   The Severn estuary has one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world - 44 feet!  The estuary virtually empties when the tide goes out - leaving huge mud and sand banks and a BIG climb up the banks onto the shore.

We arrived on the Friday and did a few hours cruising during the afternoon - it was a beautiful day - sunny and warm.

6/10/07

On Saturday, the main Treasure hunt event took place.  Around 30 hovercraft took part with all sorts of designs and sizes.  Each team (one or two craft) had to collect a code letter from 9 different points.  You were given a map to each point and had to return with the code letter before getting the next point map.  A little twist was that there was a minimum time to collect each point - if you did it too quickly then you lost bonus points (the time was also a secret!).  Great fun if a little busy on the single entry/exit ramp!

I carried three kids on the treasure hunt - their job was to clamber up the lethally muddy banks to fetch the code letter.  I though this was a good plan to avoid me getting mucky - WRONG!!  One of the kids fell into the mud (the only clean bit on him was his right shoulder!) and his brother slipped in while helping him out.  The inside of my craft was a mud bath after that little event!  The mud on the Severn varies from bottomless sludgy stuff to a coating of wet slime over a hard surface.  There was no way to walk over the stuff on the banks at low tide - you sunk up above your knees!  The steep rock covered banks were also coated with sloppy mud at low tide.  The actual water had suspended mud in it (visibility was less than 3 inches) which dried out on any sprayed areas on the craft - it gradually accumulated until everything was brown coloured!  Operating in close proximity to ducted fan craft (with high speed air stream) made sure everything got well covered in cut grass and mud/water!

 

The endangered diving hovercraft mud monster was here (i.e. someone slipped on the bank!).  In a few thousand years, some archeologist will ponder over the type of creature that made this footprint.

Ian and Nathan out collecting the treasure hunt signs after the event

7/10/07

After a late start we travelled west down to the Severn bridge - I managed to miss the photo shoot due to a cranky engine and talking to too many spectators!

 

After the trip to the bridge we meandered our way up river. 

This boat was marooned up on the bank and someone was living in it!

 

We stopped at a weir near Maisemore - about 30 miles up river from the launch site.  The Severn is much more river like at this point with small(ish) banks rather then enormous tidal walls!   As the light was starting to fade we set off  on the return trip.  After a few miles we rounded a corner and came across Wouter stranded on the bank (with Ian brooks also in attendance).  Wouter had ripped a large section of his front skirt away from the inner attach point and his craft was disabled.  Luckily this had happened right next to one of only two or three ramps in 20 miles of river)!  Wouters passenger, Hans, was given a ride back to the launch site to fetch his trailer.  The sun had gone down during the return trip and the sunset was amazing.  My first 100mile+ trip!

 

The trip was a great success.  I got to meet almost everyone involved in the hovercraft scene in the UK and also enjoyed some excellent cruising in an interesting environment.

The only problem I had with the craft was engine related.  The Prospector would not start on the Sunday morning - no spark.  The cause turned out to be a football sized lump of salt-water soaked grass sitting around the distributor.  The grass (from the recently cut parking field) had been sucked up under the engine cover and gradually gotten wet.  The only other difficulty I had was negotiating the two flood defence earth walls between the hover park field and the the launch bank.  the ramps up to the top of the walls were very narrow (ten foot) making it very tricky to get a 10 foot hover up them without falling over the edges!  Judging from some of the other pics I've seen I wasn't the only one having problems!  The Scout reached a new GPS verified top speed of 38.4mph on smooth water with less than 5mph wind.

 

Youtube videos can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZJRVJhnAxg

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbo8NDQ6CQk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a49cvSo0ot0

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow3Fd7EVSNw

More pics on this site under Photo Gallery->2007->Severn Treasure Hunt

http://www.hovercraftvideo.co.uk/

http://www.flickr.com/gp/8543551@N04/9824je

 

My trip video compilation is HERE

15/11/07

Took a trip up the river from the estuary to try out the new Prospector skirt.  The skirt was fine, in fact it seems to have stopped the odd spot of water that was coming over the front - the screen was still completely dry after about 12 miles of cruising!

Looking north east toward Norham bridge - about 13 miles upriver.

There was still a little colour on the trees to make things interesting.  There was also a lot of bird life in the lower parts of the river - i assume they are migratory birds stopping off for feeding?  The craft was cruising along really nicely at low power (no real wind today).  I could just idle along at around 2300rpm and 15-16mph or 25mph at 2600rpm (see pic below of GPS and tacho)

I tried a short run out to sea but it was tricky getting on and off the beach as the waves were around 4ft!  Around 100m offshore there was a huge swell which was obviously responsible for the big waves.

Additional information