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Old 19-09-2020, 22:02   #1
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Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

I'm looking for a solid drone so that I may fly and record and film while sailing or on anchor.

I don't want anything less than $1,000 USD since they mostly suck.

I'm looking at the different DJI models but don't know which one to choose.

I'd like to spend at most $2,000 USD but willing to go higher if the benefits are worth it.

I'll be sailing solo or on anchor solo, which means I need to catch it by myself or it needs to land on the foredeck of my 40 foot monohull.

I had an old DJI Phantom 4 (the original one) and it was great... I actually landed on the boat while on anchor and the boat was moving... granted, I never caught it solo mid-flight.

I lost it and now I need a replacement. Should I stick with Phantom 4 Pro or a DJI Mavic or something else?

Thank you!!!
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Old 19-09-2020, 22:26   #2
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

My drone buddies say the Mavic is the best.
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Old 19-09-2020, 22:51   #3
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

I always catch the P4 myself, and if I have to I can attach prop guards in more challenging conditions (drag/safety tradeoff).

I cannot imagine doing that on a legless Mavic underway. Great when hiking though.
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Old 20-09-2020, 00:31   #4
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

Mavic Air 1 with a large zip tie facing down.


Alternatively one of the waterproof Swellpro drones which float and in doubt can be landed beside the boat and be picked up by boat hook (zip tie facing up) or dinghy.
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Old 20-09-2020, 08:51   #5
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

We are on our second Phantom 3. They are cheap, still great quality and easy to catch in flight. I'm not single handed, but always control and catch my own drone. I would hesitate with a Mavic, though it's the future as the Phantom line was cancelled....
I like the Phantom 3 price point because it's just a matter of time before they end up in the water. I think the Phantom 4 is a good option, but I struggle paying the premium when I know the Mavic is now a better drone... YMMV.

Have fun!
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Old 20-09-2020, 09:25   #6
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

Drones for sailing photography and video recording - Gear Anarchy - Sailing Anarchy Forums

There is the discussion on other forum.
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Old 20-09-2020, 10:50   #7
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

I have had several Mavics and catch them in the air with no problem.
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Old 20-09-2020, 11:40   #8
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

I use a Mavic pro with the extension legs (easier to catch). I'm an absolute amateur, but very pleased with the results, including nighttime

Ghost by Night - https://www.facebook.com/1120900038/...cIDNBCUZDNImJq

Anegada Salt Ponds - https://www.facebook.com/1120900038/...MPF4MxmYVufBVf

The first couple retrieves while underway were "eventful" Truthfully, I'm surprised I haven't sent it to Davy Jones locker.
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Old 20-09-2020, 14:32   #9
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

Nice guy, actually doing it :-)

https://youtu.be/8NEFMdEERFU

Go to about 11:30.... he is fair enough to say it was a rather tricky landing.
Still, super boat, nice shots and a great guy.
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Old 20-09-2020, 16:15   #10
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

I have a DJI Mavic Air 2 and love it. The 48mp camera does a great job with video and stills, and the gymble holds it super smooth and steady. The HDR video is great for areas with both glare and shadow, such as over water and around islands/hills. Recommend getting the Combo kit which comes with extra batteries and some ND filters which are great for water glare, sunrise and set over water etc. I found a waterproof case (Pelican knock-off) for about AU$60 which was already set up for this drone and its accessories, so its perfect for safe storage on a boat.
I haven't tried to hand-catch it yet, but have found even a complete newbie like me can land it accurately because it handles wind very well (tested to about 15kn)
If you buy the insurance, you can get a replacement within the first 12 months - but you need a dead body to send back, so find a way to make it float if it goes in the water.
Good luck.
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Old 20-09-2020, 23:11   #11
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

https://www.yachtingworld.com/yachts...g-yacht-120985
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Old 20-09-2020, 23:19   #12
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

From what I've read, people on board VO60's and Imocas like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro very much partly due to the legs which are good for catching it when landing. There are also some cool features which may also be part of the Mavic.
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Old 21-09-2020, 05:54   #13
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

I have the Mavic 2 Zoom and it is incredible. The ability to fold it and the controller up into a tiny package and throw in the backpack means I actually take it with us on excursions and hikes vs. my 5 year old Phantom 3 (which was also great but very glitchy).

I also purchased the integrated controller and would highly suggest this vs. hooking up to your phone. Here a couple of shots from last years sailing trips. The high resolution with the full size file is incredible, I have them blown up and printed on canvas, it is super cool because you can actually pic my wife and I and our dingy out from a mile away in the picture in Bora Bora. Once this covid stuff is over, I don't think there will be much wall space left in our home from all of our adventures!
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Old 21-09-2020, 06:25   #14
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

Here is another take on this.

The more you pay, the more you loose.

The Mavic Air 1 does fabulous pictures and video in 4k.
It's still available for a reasonable price 600 approx including several batteries. Used ones are cheaper. Add a thick zip tie in the middle pointing down and you can catch it easily.

It's not so much a question if you loose it but more when you loose it.

So, I'd suggest a 600 which can take awesome pictures over an 1800 drone with pictures and video slightly better.

You loose the Mavic Air 1 you can buy 2 replacements until you have spent the same amount as on a Mavic Pro 2.

The only alternative are the waterproof drones by Swellpro or Gannett which still need thorough rinsing once they fell into the drink.
The Gannett is not focused on imaging though.
A waterproof drone might warrant its higher price, because you can recover it unharmed once it dropped into the drink.
If you want to fly also when sailing, the waterproof drone makes flying less stressful, because you are not getting into panic mode once the battery is low and you had several aborted landing attempts.
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Old 21-09-2020, 06:41   #15
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Re: Best drone for sailboats? (solo sailing and under $2k budget)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
Here is another take on this.

The more you pay, the more you loose.
Professionally I have flown numerous drones up to 45 pound octocopters with scientific payloads. I have never let my wife fly my drones due to some bad experiences trying to teach her to fly RC aircraft. However this past year I bought her a Mavic Mini with the idea it was inexpensive enough it wouldn't be a huge deal if she crashed it.

After flying that for a season I can say your idea that sub $1k drones "mostly suck" is outdated. The flying performance of this little drone it terrific. Buy a more expensive drone if you are after the better camera it may carry but if you don't need 4K video (the mini does 2.7K at 30FPS) then the Mini will suffice.

Even if you do get a higher end drone I'd get a Mini also as sometimes
  • you want a shot but don't want to risk $$$ to get it
  • you don't know if you'll want a drone along but carrying something this small is easy so you take it anyway.

I have literally spent many tens of thousands of dollars (other people's money) on drone equipment and the Mavic Mini is the best $400 spent out of all of it.
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