The hovercraft that ply the route between Ryde on the Isle of Wight and Southsea on the mainland have made a few previous appearances in this blog. I knew that the old hovercraft were due for replacement and that the new craft were coming in to service and figured that I wouldn’t be back before the changeover took place. However, the transition has not been smooth and there have been a number of technical issues with the new craft. Consequently, they have brought the old craft back in to regular use until things are finally fixed.
When I visited the Island recently, none of them were running! A large storm system was sweeping across the country and the high winds had brought a halt to hovercraft operations. This was pretty disappointing to me. However, it did have one unusual effect and that was that all four of the fleet were parked up on the slipway at Ryde during the day. Over the years the slipway has been expanded and improved from its original configuration, but it is still a tight fit for four craft. It would have been pretty interesting to see them all being fitted into place. Maybe this will be my last time seeing the old AP1-88s?
Another Isle of Wight development is the hovercraft. Much early development of the concept was done on the Island and many were produced in East Cowes. Hovertravel still provide a frequent service between Ryde on the Island and Southsea on the mainland. I got a couple of opportunities to shoot these hovercraft while visiting. On the day Pete and I went flying, we arrived over Ryde just as one of the hovercraft was coming in. Another was parked on the slipway at the time.
When we left the island, I headed up on the upper deck of the ferry to see what was going on and had two over the hovercraft come by in opposite directions. It was rather windy up on deck but I was able to get some usable shots of the two of them individually and as they crossed. Apparently, Hovertravel are in the process of acquiring new craft to replace the current AP1-88s that are in service. Given that they were built in the late 1980s, they have provided good service. It will be interesting to see what replaces them. I wonder whether the new vehicles will arrive before I next get back.