Experience with Hovercraft?
I've been looking at buying a hovercraft for the last couple of years. I've narrowed it down to 7-8' wide by 16-20' long. Going to start working with USHovercraft down in Anchorage to spec one out.
Wanting one for hunting up rivers in the interior and hunting and fishing down in the Sound. Way more fuel efficient than an air boat which is nice in todays prices. More versitile than a jet boat.
Anyone have any experience with them and know some plusses and minuses? I think it will work pretty well for what I am looking for but just looking for other's experiences.
They run one up on the Slope, to take crews and small stuff out to North Star Island. When the waves get much over 2-3ft, they can't run. The skirts can't hold the air, and the craft goes into displacement mode. It is good for broken ice, if there's a decent route. Ice calms the seas down considerably.
My hunting partner has built a couple. They are very impressive. They will go most anywhere an airboat will go, the fuel economy is incredible (up to 20 mpg) and not real loud. They are somewhat restricted on load and if the wind is over 10 mph it might be best to stay home. Learning to drive one is a real experience.....kinda like herding ducks.
We have a couple at work we use for rescue work made by Hovertrek. The model name is Neoteric. They have an important purpose, but they are very fragile and a maintenance headache. Sure, they are fun but I would not want to depend on one to travel very far unless other support boats are in the area. They are hard to steer on flat water. I wonder how they would handle in a current, such as a river?
I have great memories of my grandpa's 4 seater 'Tiger Shark' he got in the early 80's. It had a Volkswagon engine, cover and heater for winter use and was used year around. That thing went everywhere ! I remember the problem was, it was run with one motor; the same for lift and forward propulsion. If you had a heavy load, it was hard to maneuver and at high speeds, the skirt was pushed in and lost its air cushion. I understand the newer hovercrafts are quite a bit advanced than that 80's model. Chuck Manley in Anchorage was doing something with selling and making them a few years ago; maybe he still is ?
There is some newer technology I guess you could say on the ones I am looking at. Thinking of getting a 2 or 3 engine (2 props) so that I can carry the heavier loads and have more control. I figure with a separate engine for the lift it shouldn't have as much of a challenge in the grass or with getting up on step.
As far as the steering goes, the new ones have air ports on the front that you can let air out of the main skirt increasing drag in the front. This gives you the ability to brake without having to decrease throttle or spin a 180, and also make tighter turns.
Anyone know of any owners in the Interior that I can talk to?
Ben at Silver Streak boats has one and it is for sale I don't know if he sold it yet.
I got to fly one last year and there is a learning curve, powering up in deep water who knew.
You can get dumped out if you don't react.
Lots of fun I want one.
US Hovercraft - Chuck Manley
Locally speaking he is "the man" he will be honest with you about whether one will meet your needs or not. I considered one a few years ago looking for the "all purpose" vessel from swamps to salt water. I took a test drive down at Ship Creek with Chuck. I ultimately decided not to get one because unless you get a really big one, they are not well suited for big open water due to wave action. It is not likely that you can use one for trolling in Resurrection Bay. Driving a hovercraft, is as Ben at Silver Streak told me, "like flying an airplane 2 feet above the ground"..............this means you can dump pretty hard into the ground or water when you are going 30 to 50 mph. The noses are sloped up so you can plow in the water, but it would still be quite an impact, on land you basically can "crash............Since I have small children I decided they were simply too dangerous for my needs given the time it would take me to become a proficient "pilot". They are however, very cool and a lot of fun and get incredible mileage. Not be cheap to buy however, The US Hovercraft 3 engine (25 HP Koehlers) with 2000lb capacity was over $40k new 2 years ago. You can buy a kick ass used boat for $40k with way more amenities & loaded with electronics. Anway, call Chuck and arrange for a test ride, he is very honest and knows his stuff. I ended up buying a used 20ft Wooldridge Sport outboard jet boat that I had retrofitted with 14" bow rails, salt water claw anchor/mount and kicker as my attempt at the "all purpose" rig.
I Hope your a good swimmer
I cant remember If I posted a rescue I did this past moose season. I rescued A friend of mine and his cousin in not 1 but two broke down hovercrafts. Before I get into it I have to say;
1) There cooler than the law allows
2) Thell go just about anywhere you can think to go within the laws of physics.
They dont like unlevel. If you get them on a trail that isnt level thell slide off and put you in the trees. They love water or water like conditions. ie level.
BIG THING TO REMEMBER!!!!!!!
Dont go anywhere where you cant get rescued by conventional means.
My buddy took two up the Little Delta Creek and broke down 7 miles up the creek and across the Tanana from the launch. One ripped its skirt off, so it had no lift but had thrust. The other lost controll and slit into some alders and broke the drive prop, so no drive but had lift. They also had a 54" moose down. I nearly lost a new 4 wheeler in the braids of the little delta getting them out. I had to run it from shaw creek up to the delta in my river boat.
The week before that same buddy and I got stranded in the dang thing on the far end of shaw creek flats. It was my first time out in one and I was in love. We ran across mudd and water that would bogg down the best track rig. It was so neat. Nothing slowed this thing up. We were making much better time than the airboats running the flats. UNTILL
The drive shaft powering the lift fan twisted off. Try fixing that in the middle of the mud flats without another hovercraft to run you parts. We were lucky in that it was just above freezing and we only had to walk out 4 hours in up to chest deep water,in the dark before the airboats by the grace of god picked us up. We signaled them with a flashlight. it took them another 1/2 hour to get us back to our trucks.
FYI the first craft is a 18' military version with a subaru engine, the other was a 17' vangard powered by a 20 hp briggs vangard for both lift and thrust.
If you decide to get one of these things make sure somebody you know has one as well. And , NEVER,NEVER!!!!!!!! take them both.
Keep one on standby with a buddy that can come get your broke arse. Thats the best advice I can give you. There way cool but they will definatly get you to where nobody can get you out of. Unless its a helicopter.
Call Dale Erickson, Tanana Commercial Co. He owns the store and Tanakon fuel. Great guy. He had a 2-person and has a 4-person in FAI. He used to have a video and plans on a SEV (Surface Effect Vehicle) built by some guy. Seemed pretty cool to me.