Mike Fuller, ex. Crew Chief of HoverLloyd from 1969 to 1980 writes about the SRN6 and sent me these pictures of his times with Hoverlloyd at Ramsgate in 1967 during operational and maintenance times.
"We used to do four round trips a day plus ten minute jollies to and fro Ramsgate/Broadstairs. On a good day the N6 could do Ramsgate harbour to Calais in 40 minutes but on a marginal day the agony would last 90 minutes or more.
We took 36 passengers at a time and no refreshments of course, but generally most folk were happy. We did the maintenance at night and in the summer we got used to having holiday makers watching us over the wall. Everyone wanted to see underneath, such were the mysteries of the craft.
On Thursdays we used to take one craft to Southend with two drivers and an engineer, usually me, to operate jollies up and down the mud flats, the tide was always out! The craft and bystanders used to get covered in the black mud and on the return journey I used to get the crew to do a full power hover on the sea to clean it up a bit.
One day I remember arriving for the night shift at 8pm to find that Swift had broken down (single engine!) in mid channel and had managed to get onto the Goodwin Sands. Sure had gone out to pick up the passengers and was just arriving back. They reckoned that a pipe had burst and the oil from the main gearbox had gone. So I went back out on Sure with a collection of hoses, clips and a drum of oil. The two crew on Swift had dug the anchor in well and Sure decided to leave me out there with the two crew. The diagnosis of no oil was correct but the box had run dry and was useless, there was evidence of bearing failure and it sounded horrible when I turned the prop.
The only thing to do was to wait for the tide, cut the anchor and drift out into what is called the Kellet Gut Channel and pick up a large fishing boat, which we had on call, to tow us in. Sure came back out with some hot soup and sandwiches around midnight and at 4am we cut the rope as the boat, Sea Symphony, had arrived. The plan worked and we drifted as scheduled straight upto the boat. A floating hovercraft has a lot of captive water in the skirt and the boat could only manage about 2 knots and we finally arrived back at Ramsgate at 2pm, so it was a long shift. The two captains were Tom Wilson and Ted Ruckert." - [M. Fuller, 2004]
Page updated: Saturday, September 13, 2014