Last weekend we took a short trip to the Isle of wight by hovercraft – from Southsea to Ryde and back – almost exactly 50 years since the first operational hovercraft crossed the Channel on the 25th July 1959.
When I was a kid hovercraft fascinated me, and I particularly remember many channel crossings on the huge SRN4 hovercraft in the 70s. In more recent years it is probably true that for many applications the fuel hungry hovercraft is outdated. But for Southsea to Ryde it is ideal for three reasons:
- Its speed – 10 minutes hoverport to hoverport
- It can land on the beach in Southsea – avoiding the congestion of Portsmouth’s harbour mouth
- It can land on Ryde beach, which is shallow and sandy, whereas ferries have to use Ryde Pier
The ride across is, lets say, lively, which has always been a feature of hovercraft. The ride is rough and bouncy unlike the feeling of being on a ferry in a heavy sea which is smoother but probably more likely to make you feel seasick.
Hovertravel offers a good service at a reasonable price, and it is possible to buy various combined tickets including rail or attractions on the Island.
The day on the Isle of Wight was great – blue skies, blue sea, good food. Who needs the Med?!