Yes, you can still get a hovercraft! That is if you want to sail between Southsea and Ryde. Hovertravel offer regular sailings – use the search below to find great Hovertravel fares and book securely online.
Hovercraft travel was begun by Sir Christopher Cockerell who made a vehicle that would move over water on a layer of air. Fans draw in the air around the craft, increase the air pressure and pump it down beneath the hull. Trapped between the craft and the water, air pressure pushes on the underside of the hovercraft. As the air pressure pushing down increases, it reaches a percentage greater than the weight of the craft. The air cushion lifts the hull above the water’s surface. The air “skirt” surrounding the hovercraft prevents the pressurized air from escaping. Motors propel the craft across the water providing a smoother ride especially over large waves encountered when travelling stormy waters.
It takes great skill to manoevre a hovercraft precisely. Four main controls provide the captain’s speed, height, and control of the craft. Steering is controlled by rudders located in the slipstream behind each propeller; these can also change the craft’s direction.
Hovertravel started in 1965 and has served more than 26 million passengers since then. The low tides at Ryde take the water out quite a distance beyond the town’s esplanade. This made it impossible for any ship to dock near roads or bus routes. Until 1965, passenger ferries disembarked only at certain times and places where the tides allowed at the end of the pier, 1/3 of a mile long pier. Then passengers had the long walk to further transport. The Hovertravel craft can ride extremely low tides and onto land, so their passengers embark and disembark without the necessity of a long walk.
Since hovercraft are amphibious, they don’t need a deep harbour. They can sail from almost any beach with just a concrete landing pad and ramp. Passenger terminals can be a distance from the sea. Hovertravel has its Ryde Termainal more than ¼ mile away from the water at low tide. Departures and arrivals are very smooth. The craft can be driven onto the landing pad allowing passengers to disembark as soon as the craft is stationary. Shortly after, the craft is ready to take on new passengers and depart for its next crossing. It lifts off the pad, slides from land into sea and heads out for its destination.
Hovertravel is the only passenger hovercraft service in Europe. It is also the world’s longest running. Hovertravel provides the fastest crossing of the Solent between Southsea, Portsmouth and Ryde, Isle of Wight. Two hovercraft operate frequently, with additional service during times of commuter traffic. Travel time is a little less than 10 minutes.
Hovertravel is proud that it has been able to provide customers with its unique, quality, fast service for more than 45 years. Their hovercraft carry commuters and school groups between Ryde and Southsea. Service also enables residents on the Isle of Wight to shop in Portsmouth, access medical facilities or travel to London. They also carry tourists to the Isle of Wight and concert goers to the Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival.
Hovertravel’s “Hoverbus” connects the Hovercraft at Southsea with the Hard, Portsmouth and Southsea Train Stations. Large car parks are located at the terminal nearby the National Express and Greyhound coach stations opposite. Hovercraft arrival at Ryde lands passengers on splendid beaches, near boutique shops, and travel links to towns throughout the Island. All-inclusive holiday trips include attraction tickets, the island’s busses and train travel. Historic manors, steam trains, animal and adventure parks, along with other excellent attractions are available to travellers on the Isle of Wight.
Those who use Hovertravel’s craft regularly may purchase multiple ride passes ranging from 20-250 rides. These are sold at greatly discounted rates.