December 2016
Queensland Sporting Hovercraft Club
A branch of the AUSTRALIAN HOVERCRAFT FEDERATION Inc (Vic)

Dear Air Cushion Vehicle enthusiast,
As usual there was no planning meeting in December, but cruise dates for December and January had been planned at the November meeting.

Cruise report - Muriel St, Redland Bay - Sunday 18th December 2016.

The December cruise was also the Christmas barbeque breakup and was held on Sunday 18th December 2016 at 96 Muriel Street, Redland Bay courtesy of Peter and Elaine Venn.
Those attending the cruise with craft were:-

Peter Venn Turbo TP6
Angus Kerr Viper 4 Cruiser
Les Taylor Turbo 235 Superwedge - Phoenix.
Michael Stephenson Turbo Wedge 240 - Baffle.
Ben Woodhead Turbo Vortex
Larry Franks UH18-SPW - The Norm.
Dieter Renisch Turbo Wedge 225

Hi everyone, our last cruise for 2016 was held at Peter and Elaine's place with a good attendance and reasonable weather despite the forecast. Dieter took his new Turbo craft out for its maiden run after buying it from Joe Smeets, (one of the SMBI ferry skippers, who bought it from Des Goss's estate). It looked good with the new paint job.

Peter's TP6, Angus with his Viper, Les and "Phoenix", Michael with "Baffle" Larry's "Norm", along with Ben with his old craft (and drooling over his new Turbo which Peter has now assembled from the moulds in his shed), Kim, Phil and Kerry, Neil, Steve and Steve, Rob and Sue from 'Rampager', and Tim and family from Macleay Island also made for a busy day.

Elaine put on a great Christmas lunch, assisted by Peter at the barbeque. A thoroughly enjoyable day!

News from the Publicity Officer:-
I received a response from the department yesterday. Sybil explained that her previous e-mail was just a confirmation of the discussions which took place at the Weinam Creek demo, not the department's official response to our "Hovercraft Draft Code of Practise", which is yet to be formulated. I have replied with the following which I have only just sent, and am looking forward to more timely and constructive results in the future:

Hi Sybil,

Your previous e-mail broadly confirmed our mutual views and possible path forward to simpilfying the treatment of recreational hovercraft usage within Qld Marine National Parks. Your department's suggestion of adjusting the P.L. insurance to a club based policy (with a more reasonable $5M maximum requirement), instead of individual policies, was a surprising but interesting option. We are persueing equal access to the parks zones with non-discriminatory insurance requirements, so we are still aiming to have the P.L.I. requirement totally removed as it is statistically unjustified.

Your second point regarding access other than via established boat ramps can be easily removed without fear of unreasonable environmental harm, simply because hovercraft need smooth, unvegetated areas of sand, mud, or water to access the park boundaries. (Any vegetation which is higher than mown grass is unsuitable as the lift-air escapes. Bitumen, concrete, and gravel surfaces cause extremely rapid wear on the soft fabric skirts, and therefore are avoided as far as possible.) This means recreational hovercraft are naturally restricted to exactly the same areas used to launch small tinnies, canoes, and kayaks, (which are dragged across the same surfaces, along with lots of footprints disturbing everything below, and are unrestricted by your department.)

Our members are increasingly aware of the importance of the need for seagrass protection. Although there have been rare occurances to the contrary, our members are mindful of the necessity to avoid traversing exposed seagrass beds. Although seagrass occurances and development are very dynamic, they generally occur in the warm, shallow inter-tidal zones but are sporadic and seasonal by nature, so a common sense approach to avoidance, (rather than a departmental "blanket" ruling), is far more appropriate.
Arbitrary zoning is administratively cumbersome and the intended outcome is primitive at best. Simple phrases like "Exposed seagrass areas are important habitats which must not be unecessarily disturbed." would be far simpler and more effective.
When seagrass is covered with any more than a few cm of water, it is well protected from any imaginable "harm" by recreational hovercraft, simply because the soft fabric skirts are the only part which contacts the water surface, (Nothing protrudes below), and the very low-pressure air is far less than the weight of the water during each tidal cycle. This is a total contrast with small tinnies whose propellors and keels constantly disturb these areas while transiting, cruising, fishing, and setting crab pots on the seagrass areas.

Your department has historically invented such an excessive variety of permits that it can not administer them in an efficient or timely manner. Especially in the more recent budgetry landscape of cost and "red-tape" reduction. But the recreational hovercraft permits may still have some merit for administration and environmental protection purposes if they were grossly simplified. This is why their abolishment is not at the top of our priorities. (Our craft are registered as normal trailer boats, not as hovercraft. We hold a standard power boat license and pay normal boat registration and licensing fees.) If ACV permits are considered necessary, then they could be as simple as filling in an on-line form on your web site. It could consist of owner and craft details, along with only a page or 2 of relevant information (including the updated "Recreational Hovercraft Draft Code of Practise", which needs to be acknowledged with an "I Agree" button. You then have access to our information, and we have been made aware of your aims of protecting our cruising grounds. No ongoing administrative burden or reams of contradictory phrases to be referred to. (Similar on-line permitting schemes would probably bring your department's manning requirements and workload back to an acceptable level.)

As I see it personally, the biggest risk with recreational hovercraft use within Qld Marine National Parks is disturbance to migratory wading birds. This is because we both prefer the same environment at low tides. Again, their protection can be assured by the use of simple phrases (as referred to above), and awareness and common sense by the ACV user, rather than by pedantic, voluminous regulations which can't effectively take "real-world" seasonal, tidal, and migratory path variations into account. Dugong, turtles, dolphins etc are virtually immune to any possibility of hull-strike from ACV simply because of ground clearance, hull shape, and our unique amphibious construction. (Our craft can easily traverse across crab-pot type floats in the water without disturbing them.)

As you may appreciate from the above, the whole concept of "Managed Vessels" is irrelevant when applied to small (less than 5 seats) recreational hovercraft. Therefore the whole Public Liability Insurance, permits, and a lot of the regulations, rules, and Acts can also be recognised as unnecessary for the effective protection of our environment. We look forward to a more rapid satisfactory conclusion to our "Recreational Hovercraft Draft Code of Practise" submission, and all the material submitted since then. I ask that you circulate it as necessary for any further comments. Thanks for your and the other staff's time and consideration. Particularly for the Weinam Creek demonstration, even though it was somewhat limited.

Have a good Christmas and a productive 2017.
Steve.

Australian National Rally:
The next Australian National Rally will be held from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th July 2017 at Lake Coolmunda near Inglewood in southeast Queensland. This rally is being organised by the Queensland Sporting Hovercraft Club on behalf of the Australian Hovercraft Federation.
Check the rally site for details - rally.qhover.com

Next club cruise:-
The next club cruise will be held on Sunday 15th January 2017 at Muriel St, Redland Bay.
Meet at 9:00 am at 96 Muriel St, Redland Bay for a launch into the Redland Bay Channel.

UBD Reference - Map 267 B9.
Contact for the event is Steven Odgaard on 0400 798 404.

Next Queensland branch meeting:
The next club meeting will be held on Tuesday 17th January 2017 at 7:30pm.
It will be held in the Coopers Plains Library at 107 Orange Grove Road, Coopers Plains.
There is plenty of parking at the rear of the library building via Bosworth Street off Orange Grove Road.

UBD Reference - Map 200 D-13.

Anyone with an interest in air cushion vehicles is welcome to attend.
We discuss technical topics and plan cruises.

Regards
Steven Odgaard
QSH secretary