Thursday, 29 January 2009

Hoverneighbour

Woke up this morning in a (thankfully warmer) St Katherine's to find a hovercraft moored nearby - cue a mass of conversations on the dock because it really is so different to anything else moored here.

On the English east coast the water can be very shallow (you can stand waist deep in water, out of sight of land) and these hovercrafts are used as workboats to get to the places a floating hull simply can't reach. Hovercrafts were very much "of their time" and almost all the short ferry services have ceased now, they were just a bit too thirsty and quite hard to control in rough weather. You can hire this one, I'll add the website when i find it...

It is a nice illustration of how hard people find it to "think afresh" (cue debate about education): when Sir Christopher Cockerell invented the hovercraft he showed it to the armed services. Famously the Admiralty said it was a plane not a boat; the RAF said it was a boat not a plane; and the Army were "plain not interested"! Today they are used by the military more than anyone else... but it took a long time.

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