In March 2014, we were lucky enough to enjoy our very first cruise in the Caribbean, aboard P&O Azura. A Caribbean cruise had been our dream for many years, and we were not disappointed. We did feel, however, that some of the shore excursions did not represent good value for money and you didn’t necessarily get what you paid for.
Upon our return to the UK, the thought dawned on us that we could provide a fun-filled value for money shore excursion ourselves, in the Caribbean. But we needed an activity that wasn’t already out there. One day, by chance, we were searching the Net when we found a video presenting people ‘flying’ Hovercrafts. It was a real lightening moment for us – and we knew we’d found that excursion!
More in depth research led us to believe we needed a British manufacturer to produce our Hovercraft – so we were delighted when we found the British Hovercraft Company in Kent, UK. We visited their factory, saw how their Hovercraft were built and observed their enthusiasm and passion for the wonderful craft they create. We quickly realized this family enterprise were world-leaders in the design and manufacture of Hovercraft – and we wanted to be part of this exciting environment.
We then snatched the opportunity to ‘fly’ these amazing machines for ourselves, on land and in the water. Wow! What a thrilling, exhilarating, fantastic, fun and fabulous experience this was. We’d never travelled in this way before – and couldn’t wait to do it all again! But how…? We sold our home and spent three years living on a wide beam barge at the side of a canal in Hertfordshire, where we worked, to minimize our outgoings and save the money we needed to purchase a fleet of Hovercraft.
As part of our extensive research, we returned to Jamaica, Cozumel and Belize, looking for land and islands where cruise ship passengers visited regularly. Belize was our favourite destination, meeting our criteria in full; and whilst there, we met many wonderful people who were willing to work with us to make our business dreams a reality.
As we travelled the Hummingbird Highway in Belize, we remembered the beautiful Hummingbirds which hovered above our private garden pool in Cozumel. The thought occurred to us that Hummingbirds actually ‘hover’ due to the rapid beating of their delicate wings, creating a down-draft which sustains the bird’s elevated position in the air. Likewise, a hovercraft takes part of its propulsion and redirects this to the underside of the craft, causing the pockets of its skirt to inflate, lifting the craft about twelve inches from the floor, with the skirt itself being approximately one inch off the ground as it ‘hovers’ across the terrane. The words Hummingbird and Hovers seemed to hold a special meaning for us … so the name of our company was born – Hummingbird Hovers. We registered our company in Belize and returned home, confident we had laid the foundations of our new business venture.
But life has a way of introducing the unexpected when it’s absolutely not expected – and within a few short weeks of returning home from Belize, our plans were put on hold as we dealt with a family member’s diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. We knew, without a shadow of a doubt, we needed the support of the NHS more than ever – but we also knew it wouldn’t be available to us in Belize. Our original business plan was built around the revenue we would receive from cruise ship passengers wishing to join our excursion; but this wouldn’t be possible in the UK. And in the background, our fleet of Hovercraft were almost ready. But first and foremost, we needed to ensure the health of our family member and secure their well-being as far as possible.
Almost a year has passed since that precarious circumstance. Our family member’s health is now stable and we have worked to consider how best to bring our business venture to the UK market. Our research showed a healthy stream of annual visitors to the Isle of Wight. Having visited the Island previously, we knew how special this location was and we all felt positive about locating to this UK treasure. So we sold our boat, paid for our Hovercraft and moved our family to this Island of British beauty.