Drones on Boats

First published in Deckee.com

Jack and Jude
Deckee Pro  Posted May 17 2017

I’ll admit to being smitten by our newest addition on board Banyandah. Jude’s may be our resident photographer, snapping upwards of seven thousand each year, plus hours of video, but they’re all at ground level! 

We tried an experiment three years ago, tying our GoPro to a kite then flew it above an isolated sand island alive with thousands of sea birds. Although the stills are spectacular, the video made us seasick. Later that year I watched a man in Albany WA fly his drone so high it was lost to sight, and then persuaded him to show us the footage. Well, amazed we were! 

Finding the coin to finance our new love took until last winter, when we took the plunge, investing around $1800 on a Phantom 3 Advance, spare battery, iPad mini, and case. Our first flights had us trembling thinking our very expensive camera would crash or fly out of sight. This must have appealed to our lust for adventure because in no time at all we were driving to the most beautiful, isolated locations to fly our drone. Then we took it sailing.

There are several important  points to remember when flying off a ship. The “Return to Home” facility is your enemy, not your friend. Boats move – GPS home positions do not. Taking off, and landing in a confined space filled with rigging is also a tad bit difficult but we have found a good place to launch, and hand retrieve. A smidgen dangerous that, but isn’t all life afloat a bit that way. Lastly, these highly technical drones do not like metal as it upset their inbuilt compass – our take off site is atop our solar panels on the aft tower.

We are real nature lovers – can’t get enough of the great outdoors, and now with the drone we’re keenly looking for truly beautiful sites to fly – tis fortunate we’re presently down here in Tasmania.

In fact, we’ve just used the drone for our reconnaissance and search of a very isolated area. The farm in Farm Cove began in 1825, growing mainly potatoes and pigs for the Sarah Island Penal Colony until it closed. The farm was abandoned by 1832, when it was described as ‘fast relapsing into its original state of wild luxuriance.’

This state of wild luxuriance prevailed until the fires of 2016

After those fires were extinguished, each time we’d sail past those burnt hills we wondered what historical treasures might be revealed. A few other members of the Friends of Macquarie Harbour held a similar view and together we mounted an expedition to look for the farm last in use nearly 200 years ago. 

Here’s the aerial footage on Vimeo

If you want to view the whole adventure, go here to see the complete video and read the history of this amazing place.

I’m still a P-plate flyer and am sure my grandkids could make it do loops – and here’s an example of what can be done when proficient. Search for Lost Track. Compare that with my best so far – Kelly Basin .

You can see that drones are a powerful tool, great for enhancing story telling, and perfect to capture views otherwise not available to us mere mortals.

If we can be of any help, keeping in mind I’m a P-plate flyer, just drop us a line at capjack2j@gmail.com

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