High flying

After a few more days in Porto Heli I sailed alone the 30 miles to Poros which took 7 hours. There were very high and confused seas to begin with and I thought of turning back but on the other hand there was only a little wind so the situation was not dangerous. Then the sea flattened out to small ripples and the breeze became a flat calm so I used the engine most of the way. Strong winds and gusts came for last few miles so I did actually sail for a couple of hours. At Poros I managed to grab a mooring buoy on the second try which I was very proud of. The water at the edge of the channel here is very shallow so there's not much room for mistakes.

"Aquarella" (upper right) at the mooring buoy at Poros 

Some days later I decided to try the drone again. I wanted to have some footage from the air of myself painting on the beach. This is to be used in a coming art education video as a follow up for the ones I have produced for Pulsar Productions in Australia. 
The first scene is a general, arial view of the area, this I could do myself although it wasn't easy. After taking the drone up to quite a high altitude and turning left and right I wanted to take it back but it had other plans. It carried on going over the sea. On and on.
I panicked! 
I tried back and down on the remote.
Nothing happened
I tried turning left
It carried on sideways, but still over the sea. 
Then as a last resort I switched off the remote to automatically put it in GPS homing mode.
It obediently turned around and flew back to me, slowly descended and landed at my feet. 
Sigh of relief, good dog!
Me flying the Dji Phantom 2 drone with GoPro hero 3 camera at Poros                                  photo: Sam Butt

The next day I got my good friends Mike and Sam to help me with the scenes at the beach. The place I had found as subject matter for my painting was ideal with multicoloured stones at the water's edge. 
It was far from ideal for flying the drone. 
There, hanging right above the spot where I sat, were the main electricity cables from the mainland to Poros. Apart from that it was only a couple of yards from the road with heavy traffic! Then there was of course the water to avoid landing in. So the drone had to be flown and landed with utmost precision. Mike hadn't either tried a drone before but he quickly got the hang of it and manoeuvred it like an ace pilot with no mishaps at all.
After editing the sequences and encoding the video I had to go ashore to a cafe, with a good internet connection, to upload it to YouTube. After an hour YouTube informed me that I had 2456 minutes remaining. It was a nice cafe but I didn't want to stay there for 40 hours! I gave up, dinghied back to the boat and re-encoded the video in a smaller resolution.  
So here it is, the first short trial video. It's far from perfect but however it has given me a small impression of how I can make use of the drone and gopro camera's great potential.
Best seen at HD resolution 720p

And. we. have. lift off!

Aquarella at Porto Heli

The small town of Porto Heli lies in one corner of a large and almost landlocked bay.
It's an ideal spot to anchor or take a mooring en route to the islands of the Saronic gulf.
After using a few days here for boat maintenance and painting a watercolour while in calm waters, I decided it was time to try a bit of fun.
I let go of the mooring I had hired and motored across the bay near a secluded beach where I could try out my latest acquisition: a drone. 
After setting the anchor at a depth of 3 meters I put my new drone into a sail bag, loaded it in the dinghy and went ashore. I chose a small beach between some bushes where I could secretly launch the drone safely without being seen. I had read that dignitaries such as President Putin, Ex King Constantine and Sean Connery have property right here so I considered the danger of my drone being shot down by security guards.
I had practised using it before in my garden in Sweden. The first time it landed in the flower bed and beheaded of all my tulips, but after a few trial runs I felt I had mastered the noble art of drone manoeuvring. I still didn't feel confident enough to launch it from the boat though as the landing space is too small and the boat moves even at anchor.
Hiding behind a bush to send the drone up.

 After calibrating the drone's GPS by walking with it around in circles, I started the camera and powered it up. And up it went! It was my idea to fly it over the boat to get some lovely footage from the air of Aquarella in the sunset. However I was apprehensive about taking it over the water in case I lost control. I just took it up high enough to get an overall view of the bay. Using the remote to turn it around I did actually loose control in that it went into a crazy spin. I got it down OK though without crashing and with a great relief switched the dam thing off. Just as I did that,  I heard a voice behind me saying "Kali Spera!" ( good evening)  
I nearly wet my pants! The old Greek gentleman looked at me as if I was mad. 
I probably am.
PS. The footage didn't turn out so good because a wire to the gimbal, which should have held the camera horizontal, had loosened. But I'm sure I'll get it to work next time.
Still image from a very dizzy Gopro 

Rome wasn't built in a day.

to be continued...