Monday Minute - Drones Go Cruising

It was inevitable, as technology and electronics continue to merge applications and industries across all aspects of our world. Wi-fi hotspots in the family car, refrigerator monitoring systems, streaming video and TV on a person’s various mobile devices. It reaches all of us.


I have several friends who own drones. Even our yacht club has one. Originally viewed as a cool toy, the utility of the drone has grown quite a bit over very few years. Drones come in many forms. Whether fixed wing, which are capable of hours of flight time, or the quadcopter, hexacopter, or octocopter rotary machines we generally think of, these machines are pretty entertaining and useful tools that continue to find new applications. It won’t be long before a drone video of a real estate listing is considered a requirement. And our military has been refining the unmanned aerial vehicle for quite some time now. For many hostile environments, sending in an armed drone is much preferred over a piloted ground support aircraft.

And every vlogging couple out cruising the world, paying for their gypsy lifestyle through donations by patrons via, has a drone to enhance the impact of their video experience. It has become a requirement for YouTube, offering more substance than the clickbait attraction of a young woman in a bikini.

The current drone of choice for many is the DJI Mavic Pro. So it was no surprise when Raymarine announced earlier this year their engineers are working on a future release of software for its Axiom line of chartplotters that will integrate with the popular DJI Mavic Pro drone. The new Axiom UAV app links Raymarine’s multifunction capabilities with the aerial imaging of a drone.


The UAV app controls common drone functions, including launching and retrieving of the Mavic Pro, as well as its aerial imaging. Just think of the possibilities.

Fitted with its optional polarizing filter, the 4K camera can record and send back to the mothership aerial video of underwater reefs and sandbars, search for sandy bottoms for anchoring, even spot fish. And with this imaging displayed on a 12-inch display instead of a smartphone’s small screen in sunlight, viewing the 4K video will be much better.

There is a UAV GOTO function that allows one to send the drone to a precise location, such as a wreck noted on the chart. The drone will fly out to that precise location and hover until further instruction. One controls the drone’s flight using virtual controls on the plotter or the normal DJI joystick controller.

And from what I understand, Raymarine engineers knew they needed a two-way data link to tell the drone where the boat is when it is time to return to the boat, rather than simply returning to the point of launch, which could be miles away.

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All of this is just the first step in what will no doubt be a new aspect of modern cruising. Once just a fun toy to shoot selfies of your boat, and to fly overhead to capture a cruisers’ beach party, drones (and the technologies that embrace them) will continue to evolve. They will become important tools beyond just entertainment. They will become part of the modern cruiser’s toolbox.

For more, visit Raymarine and check out the Axiom UAV app that comes with the LightHouse 3.6 update for the Axiom, Axiom Pro, and Axiom XL MFDs. There is already a 3.7 release with even more features, further proof that modern technology isn’t running out of opportunity anytime soon.

Have a great week.