Update March 5: Video from El Archo 

After having hiked out to the edge of Lands End and trying to fly around the last big cliff there,  taking pictures and video of the famous El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, we decided that we should really charter a boat and fly from it. 

I was fascinated by that idea since there are a few challenges associated with this - challenges that you don't have when flying from shore. Interestingly enough, the things I thought would be more challenging turned out to be less of an issue but other problems started to emerge and become challenges. 
Picture
Heading out to the tip of Lands End
We had seen the sunrise at Lands End so we decided to go midday and see what the colors looked like then. I usually don't fly during the day, as the GoPro and the Vision cameras don't always seem to capture the light that great. There can be a lot of washout especially around the bright areas and the Sun. So flying around noon was something different already. Even in France we mostly flew sunrise and sunsets and at home in San Jose we make it a point to get up early and head out for that magic hour. 
So the three amigos (Randy, Mark and I), with a cooler full of water and beer, found ourselves a Captain with a boat. That was a very easy task as there are so many boats in the harbor, and at noon not too many tourists are trying to go out fishing, whale watching or visiting Lovers Beach. 

The boat we got was a simple one, with a canapé spread across the top. This provided us with welcomed shade, but also meant less room for taking off and landing. Plus, it turns out, it also obstructed our visual views of the flying machines a little. But since we were prepared to fly FPV via monitor and goggles, this wasn't a big issue. Except when coming back and landing...  
Picture
Our captain taking a look at the Vision inflight.
It did not take long to get out there and get into position for our first flight. I got my Vision up first, Randy hand launching it for me as there was no big flat surface on the boat and the boat was rocking back and forth. Once in the air it almost felt like flying on land; except of that rocking boat. The advantage of flying the Vision is that you usually fly it by looking at your smart phone screen or iPad and that, at least in my case, helped me not getting motion sick; our boat sometimes really rocked hard. 

The biggest challenge; after 20 minutes of being in the air, our little boat drifted pretty far away from the location I took off from. However, the telemetry data doesn't know that and shows you the home location where the quadcopter took off from. Coming back to that location revealed no boat being there! Or a different boat having taking our previous spot. So that made it very interesting. Luckily I had planned enough time and power for landing and so it took some time to locate us and then come in for a landing. Which was another challenge altogether. 

Since the boat is moving and there is not a lot of space to land, Randy volunteered to be the catcher. I decided to land coming into the wind. That made it easier for me as I actually had to push the controls to make it come towards Randy and if something happened, I could just let go of the sticks and it would not smash right into him - the wind would not push it into our good helper. 
Picture
Including our captain in the experience. Seeing the P2 view through the Zeiss goggles.
Next up was Mark with his Phantom 2, the GoPro Hero3+ with the RageCams lens on it. He set it up to fly with the Zeiss HD goggles, which are truly such a joy to fly. The picture is so sharp, they fit well and you completely forget everything around you. 

Mark did a fantastic video flight and when following the Diamond (the Diamond on the screen shows you where the system saved the launch location and is a very helpful orientation tool) on the screen to come home, he also learned that our boat had left "home". 
Picture
Single image through the RageCams lens on the GoPro Hero3+.
The next flight we changed the Phantom 2 GoPro camera settings to taking a picture every 2 seconds. I wanted to take some panoramas with the RageCams lens on it - as there is almost no distortion in the pictures, making it much easier to create stunning panoramas. 

It was fun flying it that way and I have gotten used to the "black" screen every two seconds when it takes a picture. I start to blink to the rhythm of that shutter occurrence and it becomes less noticeable. However, what becomes more noticeable are the waves and the rocking of the boat: motion sickness... flying with the goggles on a boat really gets to me! 
Picture
Flying the Vision with the iPhone screen did not get me sick...
After this flight we signaled our captain to change location to the other side of the arch. Mark was ready for flying through it. 

I did a quick test flight to see how the signal would hold up on the other side of the arch and then it was Mark's turn to fly straight through it. 

Mark decided to fly visually and let me use the goggles for navigation and feedback. He is really good at using geometry as his guide. And sure enough, the Phantom 2 was heading towards the arch, 3 meters (9 feet) of the water. The arch was approaching quickly and I could see all the boats on the other side through the goggles. Also on the other side was a large rock formation pointing out and Mark managed to fly very close by it, pulling up and gaining altitude so the video signal would not get interrupted by the entire rock formation. 

He parked the Phantom in the sky, handed me the controls, grabbed a beer and said "My job here is done! You bring her home!". 
Picture
Mark is approaching the arch, 3 meters over the water line.
Flying off a boat certainly requires more focus and a lot more "thinking ahead". But it is a very fun and memorable experience - especially when it doesn't go into the drink! 

Update: Here is a short video of our adventure at the arch! 
 


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