How to use a drone on a sailboat

Published on June 11th, 2020

by Ronnie Simpson, Cruising World
In the past decade, drones have completely revolutionized how we see sailing. Just a handful of years ago, capturing airborne images of a sailing yacht, a regatta or a harbor was exclusively the domain of professional photographers or well-heeled amateurs who could afford a helicopter and were equipped with a pricey long-lens camera to capture the moment.

Now, literally millions of people around the world carry a small, unmanned drone that can be easily launched into the sky and commanded to take photos and video; some even have the ability to distribute these images live onto social media. Due to the nature of sailing and the constantly changing seascape in which it takes place, being able to achieve this aerial perspective is invaluable to telling the story of a cruise or racing yacht and its crew, and the places and conditions in which it travels.

With the recent proliferation of drones, most sailors have undoubtedly seen or heard a drone buzzing around their boat or marina at some point. And many of us probably have a friend who owns a drone and has a good crash story. As an experienced, commercially licensed drone pilot and drone enthusiast, time and again I’ve heard a variation of this tale: “I got a drone once, and I wrecked it the first day. I decided that drones are not for me.”

To which I say: Imagine if you went for a sail once, with no experience and no proper instruction, and had a mishap while docking and decided that sailing just wasn’t for you. Don’t sell yourself short. Owning and operating a drone is far easier and more practical than many sailors think. Full report.

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