Monday, 8 November 2010

November Rain and Hovercraft Reminiscences

Hi Orage and others (vie email), thanks for your comments as regards hovercraft routes. Gibraltar to Tangier? could be a little rough, that one!

Here in the UK there used to be a Hover ferry running between Pegwell Bay (Just outside Ramsgate on the Southeast Kent coast) and Calais, France. Big buggers they were, with four fans or propellers - one at each corner. The could carry cars, coaches and the like. I went on one as part of a school trip to Belgium, along with the coach we were traveling on - it was that sort of scale.

That was back in 1970 and the hovercraft was a SRN4 (SRN = Saunders-Roe Nautical 4). The old Isle of Wight passenger craft (when I went on one as a kid) were single fan driven SRN6s. It is interesting to note that the modern incarnation utilizes a pair of ducted fans as do the military versions.

The SRN4 cross-Chanel Hover ferries, though, were a sight to behold - the shear scale of the things! I traveled across to France on them on several occasions when I lived in Ramsgate and later Broadstairs. Yes they were quick - but they sure weren't for the faint of heart! On a calm day they were amazingly quick and equally smooth. Provide a change of tide, a little wind and a bit of a swell and... Let's just say that if you like roller coasters and similar fairground thrills you'd love it! It is telling that a sick-bag was provided, tucked within easy reach in a pouch in the back of the seat in front. At times a crossing could be likened to being a little like sitting in with a particularly deluded would-be rally driver on a switchback dirt track - and pissed. The thing would be surging along, then suddenly come to a near dead stop before then surging ahead with prodigious acceleration - pressing the passenger back in his or her seat - before again treating the unwary and unintentional thrill-seeker to a nauseatingly rapid deceleration that threatened to throw one's stomach contents all over the chap (or chap-ess) in front. I kid you not; I have a good set of 'sea legs' and once owned (late 1970s) a two-seater deep-V hulled boat capable of a solid 80 MPH on aa calm day at sea (don't know - nor care what that is in KPH; I'm in that sort of belligerent mood) but I reached for that paper haven more than once on one trip. Actually, that recollection brings to mind a good analogy - it was like being in a powerboat... with brakes!

By the way – it is absolutely peeing down here in London; currently at Highbury Corner in Weatherspoons pub (The White Swan – sounds picturesque, but isn't) where there is a beer festival ongoing (up until this coming weekend)and which had resigned myself to missing. hope to be getting on with a little writing shortly and have just bought a new tele' in a moment of madness.

Sorry to hear that some of you are having problems reading the Blushes reader's letters scans I recently posted. It is possible (likely even) that I over-did the resizing process I put them through in order to save web hosting space and upload time. Let me know if the problems are insurmountable and I'll repost as necessary - Ta!

1 comment:

Orage said...

Well, Garth, it seems you haven't read my last comment!
The problem is not insurmountable as I explained and it works perfectly well.

Thanks a lot for your descriptions of hovercraft crossings in bad weather, very graphic and absolutely true!

Why miss the beer festival? Influenced by the Bible slapper?