I had cause to nip over the Ryde on the Isle of Wight recently and without thinking I booked passage aboard the Wight Link Fast Catamaran which takes about 20 minutes to cross the eastern Solent from Portsmouth.
It was only when I got to Ryde that I realised I'd missed the opportunity to take the hovercraft which runs a service between Southsea and Ryde.
Ryde is surrounded by shallow sand banks which stretch right out into the Solent and dry during low water spring tides, but that's of no consequence for an air cushion vehicle, the hovercraft rides smoothly over the sand and up onto a purpose built ramp just off the esplanade.
Hovercraft have a long association with the Solent, invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell in 1956 much of the development for the later commercial models was carried out in the area. Today only the Southsea - Ryde service remains, but many examples of these fascinating craft are on display at the Hovercraft Museum at Lee on Solent
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