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Old 09-11-2021, 08:34   #1
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Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

Just bought a Mavic Pro drone from a friend, it's in great condition, got a really good deal with lots of extras. I'm looking for pointers and recommendations for flying the drone off my 47ft monohull. Obviously I'm going to learn to fly it on land first, but any suggestions for flying the drone off my boat would be most welcome. Are there any must-have accessories that make it easier to launch and recover the drone at sea?

Thanks,
David
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Old 09-11-2021, 08:49   #2
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

I’m also looking to buy a drone at some point for our boat. So no personal experience yet (except flying off the swim platform of a big charter boat). But Sailing Uma had a video about this recently:

https://youtu.be/nJwLixXS0Bo
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Old 10-11-2021, 14:01   #3
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

Friend told me a cautionary tale about drones from boats. While flying from a boat on a lake, the drone ran low on batteries. It was programmed to return to "home' - it's origin point - when the batteries got low. They had started it from the boat, near, but not at the dock. When they realized the what was happening they raced back towards the dock... and missed being in the right spot by about 40'. Does yours float?
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Old 10-11-2021, 14:32   #4
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

One suggestion that I would like to give you is practice a LOT off the boat first.

I have a GoPro karma (discontinued now) that needs to be “landed” rather than “caught”, landing a drone on the boat is almost impossible so I taught myself how to bring and fly it close to me so I can catch it, Mavics are easier to “catch” than Karma.

I have seen a couple of people land in the water trying to catch their drones and even though it was hilarious to watch it was unfortunate, so let the drone come to you rather than you hanging over the lifelines trying to get it.

Initially I would fly it off the foredeck and take one of the Genoa sheets off to have a clear field but I have learned to fly and catch of from the cockpit (I don’t have a Bimini), stay away from the shrouds.

Watch the battery.

We are very close to an airport so I don’t fly it in my home waters, obviously follow local rules.

I have heard unconfirmed rumors that gun owners have used drones as target practice, so again watch where you fly.

Oh, and register it on FAA (if you are in the US).
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Old 10-11-2021, 16:58   #5
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

Flying it off is easy, put it on the stern and lift off, boat will sail clear. Landing is much more challenging. Best solution is to mount a handle on it to catch it. Once you catch it a quick flick of the wrist to turn it upside down which will kill the props. Gets tons of practice before you try with the boat underway.
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Old 10-11-2021, 17:51   #6
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

I found mine easy enough to launch but hellish to retrieve again. We were sailing slowly at the time and it was difficult to match the boat speed to bring the drone in. The low battery alarms started going off along with the proximity alarms which added greatly to the excitement. In the end I managed to snatch it out of the air. In hindsight maybe I could have turned the boat into the wind to reduce speed but there wasn’t really time or free hands for that.

We often tow our dinghy and I thought about putting a piece of plywood or something in the dinghy as a landing platform but even that looked quite difficult while moving at two or three knots.


I got just two photos. Not sure I’ll try it again soon!

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Old 10-11-2021, 18:04   #7
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

I've been flying a DJI Mini-Mavic this past Summer off my boat. It's under 250g, so no need to register with the FAA. That's a big plus, considering new rules that will soon go into effect. In the USA, a Mavic Pro will need to be registered with the FAA.

I started by practicing on land. After that, I practiced launching and recovering off the boat, while at dock. If I couldn't land on the boat, then there were options other than the water. The landing zone is the v-berth hatch that is set level and a nonskid mat is used to ensure it doesn't slide off. The jib sheets are slacked to keep them out of the flight path. The camera will tilt 90 deg down. The screen can be configured with a centering dot and cross-hairs. To land, the camera is set pointing straight down and I align the cross-hairs over the forward portion of the landing zone. This is because the camera is on the front, so by biasing the cross-hairs towards the front, the center of the drone lands on the center of the mat. I only fly in light air.

We were able to get many amazing pictures while on the hook.
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Old 11-11-2021, 03:50   #8
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oeanda View Post

We often tow our dinghy and I thought about putting a piece of plywood or something in the dinghy as a landing platform but even that looked quite difficult while moving at two or three knots.

Don’t try to land the drone while moving. When close to the ground, drone tries to hover using gps and your landing spot will move away. You either have to stop motion of the boat or catch the drone. Catching a Mavic without a handle is hard and puts fingers at risk.
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Old 11-11-2021, 06:16   #9
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

Like others have said, just practice on land quite a few times first. Landing on a moving vessel is most challenging and we just avoid that unless conditions are dead calm. We have the Mavic 2 Zoom and could not be more pleased with the purchase!

Here are some of our pics from the drone:
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Old 11-11-2021, 06:34   #10
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

...launching in Mid-Atlantic was easy...
upon recovery it missed the "catcher", went through the spokes of the (big!) steering wheel (being turned by the windvane), through all the stern paraphernalia, lifelines, the windvane's steering-lines & past the windvane - into the drink. Very experienced (on land...!) operator...
our mouths sure hung open, "flabbergasted" was a gross understatement...
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Old 11-11-2021, 18:08   #11
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

Recovery is easy, do what the professionals do...

Look at the video, these guys fly mostly in bad weather, not sure what kind of drone this is but it does whitstand the high winds.

Check the launch at :59 and how they catch it at 2:52. Impressive.

https://youtu.be/Hsi_PGW6CZg
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Old 11-11-2021, 20:05   #12
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

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Originally Posted by SVTatia View Post
Recovery is easy, do what the professionals do...

Look at the video, these guys fly mostly in bad weather, not sure what kind of drone this is but it does whitstand the high winds.

Check the launch at :59 and how they catch it at 2:52. Impressive.

https://youtu.be/Hsi_PGW6CZg
Its a Mavic but can't tell if it is Pro, 2 or 3.

I think in anything but very settled conditions a catching net of some sort is required. Its also a two person operation.
I have yet to summon up the courage to launch my Pro from the boat , even at anchor.

Small point, if it decides to bring itself home there is the option to cancel 'return to home' displayed on the left of the screen. I use it a fair bit - if I have launched from the tray of my truck I'll often choose to land on the grass.

Further point... when about 1 metre above ground mine will say to itself 'close enough is good enough' and just drop even if I ( think I ) have control.... not a good look if you are on a moving platform.
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Old 11-11-2021, 22:43   #13
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

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Originally Posted by AllenRbrts View Post
Don’t try to land the drone while moving. When close to the ground, drone tries to hover using gps and your landing spot will move away. You either have to stop motion of the boat or catch the drone. Catching a Mavic without a handle is hard and puts fingers at risk.
We wanted to get pictures while under sail so hence the forward motion. The main lesson I learned was never to trust the level indicator on my battery which said it was charged, then later decided that it wasn’t actually as charged as it first thought it was. I did manage to catch the drone and I think with practice it would all be quite doable.
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Old 11-11-2021, 23:38   #14
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Re: Mavic Pro drone - how to fly off a boat?

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Originally Posted by Oeanda View Post
We wanted to get pictures while under sail so hence the forward motion. The main lesson I learned was never to trust the level indicator on my battery which said it was charged, then later decided that it wasn’t actually as charged as it first thought it was. I did manage to catch the drone and I think with practice it would all be quite doable.
This is my under sailing around 8 knots. almost lose drone because drone freeze high wind. i must put sail down and return on engine +- 1nm to pick up drone.
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