musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Southsea

Hovercraft. Wow!

Ok, I admit it. Up till April I had never seen a hovercraft up close and personal. And you can bet I have been hoping one would pop up in my viewfinder sooner or later.
My introduction to hovercraft happened up in Southsea when I got a chance to see the ferry that operates between Southsea and Ryde. This is operated by hovercraft and was definitely one of those unforgettable moments. I was photographing the Portsmouth Naval Memorial when I spotted this moving mass of spray approaching at a rate of knots. 


We were not too far from the terminal and I waddled across as fast as I could without breaking into a heart attack creating run. I was just in time to catch her as she approached the ramp/landing field.


By the time I arrived she was already deflated and unloaded and was waiting to pick up her next load of passengers for the trip to Ryde. 

She was not a very impressive vessel in this mode, and if anything looked ungainly and wounded. I changed my camera over to video mode and positioned myself at the edge of the ramp and waited for her to leave, which she did almost immediately. I eagerly followed her entrance into the water and was drenched by the spray from her props. The short video I made of it was cropped to not show the laughter or the wet jeans as I walked back to the pavement. I wanted to do that again if possible. 

Wind forward a bit, and my meanderings uncovered the Griffon Hoverworks which I spotted from the Itchen Bridge. Unfortunately none of the hovercraft they were working on ventured into my viewfinder, but I do know that they were running trials up in the Solent with one of them.

Every time I go up or down that bridge I check to see if any of the hovercraft have popped out for a quick spin, but have not been successful yet. I did have a bit of luck on 15 August when one of the hovercraft was deflated on the slipway next to the Itchen Bridge. I did spot one more higher up on the skipway, and there were two others in the area where I had first spotted them. This particular one belongs to the Indian Coast Guard. The other hovercraft on that slip I spotted in Southampton Water on the 31st of August.

Military hovercraft running trials in Southampton Water.

Military hovercraft running trials in Southampton Water.

However, recently I was once again stationed on the bridge waiting for a ship to transit when I heard an odd growling noise and this small hovercraft runabout hurtled down the slipway, made a skidding turn and headed off at a rate of knots. It happened so fast I did not even get a chance to grab a decent pic. 

Things were looking up!
On the 7th of August we went down to Southsea and once again I was photographing the Naval Memorial, and I was only able to catch a brief glimpse of her as she passed

Once I finished my pics I headed across to wait for the hovercraft. The moving spray heralded the arrival of Freedom 90 as it approached us from Ryde. The difference was that this time I shot video of her approach, and then I moved across to watch her leave; staying well clear of the spray from those props. She did not disappoint! 
Shooting video does mean that you don’t get to shoot stills, but I did manage a few pics of her as she belted off into the distance.

Bucket List! she is definitely going onto my bucket list, assuming I still have a bucket with a bit of money in it.
Interestingly enough, if you cross over to Hythe, very close to the pier is a monument to Sir Christopher Cockrell (1910-1999), considered to be the father of hovercraft.

The withdrawal of the mighty cross channel hovercraft did leave somewhat of a void in unique transportation circles. But from what I hear there are at least 3 hovercraft plying their trade in this area, and I am hoping that one day I will get to travel on at least one of them. 


I never did get to ride the Hovercraft, but I did manage to catch them in action when I was on board Shieldhall going to Ryde and our bows were crossed by these speed machines.

© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 10/04/2016

Updated: 07/04/2018 — 10:05

Popping into Portsmouth

On the afternoon of 19 April I made a half day trip to Portsmouth with my landlord. It was a spur of the moment thing so there was no real itinerary or end destination. I did however want to at least see HMS Warrior and HMS Victory if possible. Anything else would be a bonus. The weather was sunny, but extremely windy in Porstmouth, so much so that some of my images were at crazy angles as I tried to take pics. 
First vessel on view as HMS Warrior, and she is magnificent. We did not have the time to go on board any of the attractions, but some quick pics will do for this post. She is much bigger than I expected and is really a unique vessel in so many ways. 


Dominating the skyline of Portsmouth is the Spinnaker Tower and of course the buildings that form the Historic Naval Dockyard predate it by many years. There are quite a lot of really beautiful old buildings in the city, but time was not on my hands to explore any of them.

 At the Historic Dockyard is the long lived HMS Victory, much to my dismay her upper masts and spars had been removed. This venerable old lady is really worth seeing because she is a unique vessel, and in a class all of her own. Over 250 years old, she still looks as good as when she was built. The removal of the yards and spars have to do with her ongoing restoration, and hopefully in a few years she will get them back. 


Close to the Victory is the Monitor M33, a 1915 vintage vessel that is neither glamorous, or as famous as the wooden wall close by.  (At the time of writing this post she was not open to the public, but she has since been undergoing preservation so that she can finally be opened).


Behind her lay modern warships of the Royal Navy, and I had to wonder what it must have been like here during the World Wars. The drydocks and inner basins would have been occupied that’s for certain.


There was a lot of ferry traffic about too, with vessels destined for the Isle of Wight, the continent, and other ports close by. Strangely enough there were none to Southampton.

We then headed to Southsea to have a look at the hovercraft that goes across to Ryde. It was not in yet so I took a look at the surging waves and the shingle beach. The wind was still blowing a gale and it was decided unpleasant.

While we waited a cross channel ferry came past and we decided to go take a closer look at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. How many ships have passed down this channel? If only the sea could talk.
The Memorial is a magnificent structure, but again it is just so difficult to photograph because of its sheer sze and the number of plaques on its walls with 24600 identified casualties listed there. I would like to revisit the Memorial and rephotograph it.

By this time the hovercraft had made an appearance and I headed towards its “landing pad” as it beached itself.


By the time I got to the pad it was almost ready to leave, and inflating its skirts it turned and charged down the beach, hitting the water in a burst of spray, which was then flung straight at me as it headed off once again. I was drenched, but it was worth it!

Then it was time to go home again, we wanted to head out and have a look at the forts on a hill protecting Portsmouth so headed out there. The view was spectacular, but the glare did make it difficult to take photographs. These images are all 1500 pixels wide


Then we headed off for home. The weather was starting to get odd, and the artillery museum at Fort Nelson was closing so there was no real need to stay any longer. Portsmouth is on my list for a day trip, but first I must get to Isle of Wight. But even before that, we had to get home.

© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 01/04/2016

Updated: 28/12/2017 — 07:51
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