North West Highland Hovercraft Cruise
The North West Highland Hovercraft Cruise took place from the 23rd to the 30th July.
This was the first time this event had ever took place. Three hovercraft attended the event this year. There was a Sevtec Surveyor owned and built by myself and local to Lochcarron. A Sevtec Prospector owned and built by John Robertson from
. The other craft was a Sevtec Vanguard owned and built by Steve Holland from Melrose . There was also an enthusiast that drove up from Aberdeen on the first Saturday of the event for a few hours. He came out for a fly in my hovercraft for a couple of hours before returning home. All three hovercraft are of a GRP foam core construction and are built from plans available from Amphibious Marine in the Perth . USA
All the hovercraft owners adhere to a cruising code of conduct set out by the Hoverclub. More details can be found on the Hoverclub website at www.hoverclub.org.uk
Hovercraft are probably the most environmentally friendly power craft that can be used on water. They float on a cushion of air, so there is no rotating propeller in the water, which means that they do not create a wake in the water disturbing the sea bed or damaging the wild life. There is no fuel or oil coming into contact with the water so they do not polute the water. The biggest concern with hovercraft is noise, which is being addressed and modern hovercraft are much quieter than they were twenty years ago. Hovercraft are unique in that they are able to reach places no other type of vehicle can.
A question always asked wherever we go is, “Do hovercraft float if the engine stops?” The answer is “yes” they do as they have ample buoyancy built in. I regularly use mine as a fishing platform as it is very stable when floating.
The weather for most of the week was blue skies and sunshine, the only downside for some of the days being the strong gusty northerly winds. The hovercraft were out exploring every day. On Saturday 23rd July was only a short trip to the bottom of Loch Carron, as it was late afternoon before the first of the visiting hovercraft arrived. On Sunday the three craft went out of Loch Carron and around the corner to Reraig and Loch Kishorn then flew around the point to Kyle and over to Loch Na Beiste on the Isle of Skye. The wind was very strong and gusting to over 30mph; at one point we encountered waves of five foot plus high which all the hovercraft managed to negotiate safely.
On Monday the winds were still quite strong, John and Steve flew to Plockton. On Tuesday we started off by trying to sort my craft out as it was not hovering as well as it should. We discovered the problem, so I spent the day sorting out my craft while Steve and John went exploring the area around Loch Kishorn.
On Wednesday the gusting wind had abated so we set off to explore Loch Alsh and Loch Long. John and Steve flew their hovercraft around to Kyle of Lochalsh, but I decided to trailer mine to Kyle after the fright I had on the Sunday with the big waves going around the point. This time I took my son with me while Steve and John took Dawn and Anne. We flew to
then under the bridge into Loch Long. The route up through Loch Long is stunning. We stopped on the Nonach salt marsh at the top of Eilean Donan Castle Loch long for our lunch. From there we headed back to Loch Alsh and out to Glas Eilean. Brandon & I decide to head back to Kyle, while the others flew on to Glenelg bay.
On Thursday it was overcast and the northerly wind had picked up again. Anne & Dawn wanted to visit the West Highland Dairy shop at Achmore. We landed on the beach below Achmore while Anne & Dawn walked to the dairy shop. On their return we started to fly around to a quiet bay behind Plockton. I turned back just before going around the point as the sea waves were getting beyond my comfort zone again. The others continued on into the bay.
On Friday the weather started off overcast, but very light winds. Today was to be a hundred mile sea trip for John and Steve as they flew their hovercraft from Lochcarron around the coast to Loch Torridon. I decided I was not experienced enough to undertake the whole trip in my craft all the way around the exposed west coast to Torridon. We landed on a small island above the
and to the west of Toscaig. We parted company here and John and Steve headed north to Loch Torridon while I followed the coastline back to Lochcarron. I still managed a respectful 46 mile cruise along the rugged but beautiful coastline. Crowlin Islands
All in all it was a successful week and a good time was had by all. We were made to feel welcome pretty much everywhere we went, although a gentleman in Lochcarron had a moan at Steve, which I felt was disrespectful and uncalled for! I am hoping to host the event again next year where it is hoped more hovercraft will attend.
Photos and videos of the week can be seen on my website, as can other information regarding hovercraft at www.highlandhovercraft.co.uk
Alan Wilkins (Lochcarron)