I have done this, but I did it for different reasons, still it should work for you.
I mostly sail alone, and descending into a Swanson 42 while under way is a pretty unpleasant process. It's something like a 7 foot drop, in two stages, so if you miss your footing, it is nasty.
Anyway, that means that when I go down to make a cup of tea, or set the oven
for lunch, I have to keep clambering up and down the side of a mountain to deal with my somewhat irrational fear that despite the fact that I am moving at five or six knots, and there was nothing in site when I went down to light the oven
, something may have mysteriously emerged from the ocean directly in front of me in the ten seconds I was down below (a sub maybe, we do some sub maintenance
here in Adelaide) and I am about to crash into it and sink.
Like I said, irrational.
Anyway, the solution was staring me in the face, as I look forward from the galley
at the bulkhead there is a great big LCD TV sitting there, never used (who wants to watch TV when you can watch dolphins
, or subs...). So I wired a weather
proof camera at the bow to the RCA input on the side, and now I watch the "Nothing in front of me" channel when under way and making the tea.
But this is all irrelevant anyway, as the tricky part, the relevant bit of this rambling post, is that you have to work out the best angle of view to suit your needs. The weather-proof 12V cameras are a dime a dozen, and very compact, and the wiring
, though a little tedious, is in my experience of things electronic, worth the effort (After 20 odd years of IT I really avoid wireless when I can), but each camera comes with a different field of view. The reversing cameras (which are brilliant and very, very cheap) have a field of view (120 to 170 degrees) too wide for your application, I believe. Anything further away than about 8 feet is too far to give a perception of distance with these cameras, some are no good for things further than half that. I use a relatively narrow 62 degree field of view for my bow camera, which I derived by swapping the interchangeable lenses on a crap security camera I had in a box. But this may be a bit too narrow for your needs as it is to suit a boat under way with a pretty large TV screen, not for manoeuvring in a tight space.
I suggest you play around at the bow with a conventional camera first to figure out what angle of view you need, then I do really recommend wiring
the camera in to avoid all the hassles of lag, dropout etc with wireless. Most 12V cameras incorporate the power supply and the single
cable in one reasonably thin cable, so running the line is not too bad in the average boat.
The idea of mounting the camera on the mast does appeal to me for docking
... though like the idea of reversing cameras on cars, I find it hard to imagine how well the concept
would work in a pen. I found the car cameras brilliant once I tried one, and have retro fitted them to both our cars and our bus, but cars are absolute in their movement, no slip, drift, yaw etc, boats as we all know, have no park brake. I am not sure there is enough time to consider and convert what you would see on the screen to meaningful wheel/throttle movements... but then our boat is not particularly nimble, yours is likely to be a lot more responsive and therefore the camera may be helpful.