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How to Land a Drone on a Boat (5 Steps to Prevent a Crash)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
fly a drone from a boat

From experienced pilots to novices, flying a drone from a moving boat is challenging. Without proper consideration of the conditions and preparation, you could seriously damage your drone.

There are four crucial steps to land your drone on a boat safely: 

  1. Disable Obstacle Avoidance System
  2. Set home point to dynamic
  3. Make your landing approach from the side to avoid obstacles
  4. Ensure you have enough landing space

You can also land the drone on your hand if it’s challenging to land it on a moving boat. You can learn more about flying your drone safely over the water here.

Landing Your Drone on a Boat - 5 Steps to Prevent a Crash

  1. Set Home Point to Dynamic

Always set your Home point to Dynamic when flying over water

Your boat’s changing position means that the drone would return to takeoff point coordinates and be stranded in the water otherwise.

  1. Disable Obstacle Avoidance Systems

Most drones have proximity sensors that guide them through obstacles. While these are great at preventing collisions, these sensors can be overwhelmed by objects on the deck and cause the drone to behave erratically.

Therefore, it is best to disable them during landing.

  1. Land in an Open Area

Try to maneuver your drone into an open area while landing. Most ships have a relatively open stern, making them suitable for landing drones. 

Keep all equipment safely stowed away to prevent accidents at the time of landing.

  1. Approach from the Side

When bringing your drone in for the landing, approach the boat from the side. 

There are fewer obstacles to mess with the sensors that way, and this method allows you to keep an eye on the relative speeds of the drone and the boat.

It also lowers the chances of wind affecting your drone’s landing and aerodynamics.

  1. Don’t Rush

The biggest mistake novices make is trying to rush the landing. 

If conditions are unsuitable, you should never try to force a landing. Instead, keep your drone at a distance and circle back again for another try.

Can You Fly a Drone From a Boat?

Having concerns about landing your drone on a boat is pretty common. It’s best to know everything beforehand, especially when you’re considering taking your drone along on your next boating trip.

You can fly your drone from a boat and land on it safely as long as you have a large enough area for the drone. You also need to consider that the drone’s stabilization can get disoriented by the strong winds and movement of the boat.  

While flying a drone from a boat is possible, we recommend honing your skills on the ground before you attempt to fly it from a boat. 

How to Land a Drone Safely on a Boat

The only thing more complex than taking off your drone from a boat is landing a drone on one. After all, most drones need a solid surface to land on. So, unless your drone is waterproof, you’ll need more practice and skill to avoid damage.

Keeping the boat steady, lowering the speed of your drone, creating landing space, and disabling the obstacle avoidance settings will help in landing your drone safely on a boat. Having a landing plan also increases the chances of a safe landing.

Moreover, if your vessel does not have adequate space for the drone to land, grabbing your drone mid-air is a great alternative. 

Using a quadcopter with handle-like landing gear like the Phantom Series can help a lot with safety, otherwise, try to at least wear some protective gloves.

You can also use a floating drone or get floating landing gear to land your drone on the water’s surface and bring it back to minimize the risk of a crash landing on the moving boat. 

Is Landing Your Drone on a Yacht the Same?

Landing a drone on a yacht is no different from landing on any other boat if the yacht is large enough. However, ensure that you disable the obstacle-avoidance systems before landing since these can readjust the drone’s course and potentially make it crash in the water.

Fortunately enough, yachts come with superior stability and considerably more space for a hassle-free landing, as long as you’re not distracted by the girlfriends of your millionaire buddies.


A suggested practice is always to approach the yacht sideways to minimize collision and make the landing easier.

Is Landing Your Drone on a Sailing Boat Different?

Most common drones are perfectly capable of landing on small vessels and sailboats. All you have to do is make sure they stay away from sails enough to prevent a downdraft. 

When landing a drone on a sailboat you have to make sure that it stays away from obstacles on deck, including the veil, and the obstacle avoidance setting is disabled for an easier landing. 

With sailboats, you have to keep in mind the aerodynamics as well. Massive sails can impact a drone’s ability to circulate air. This can cause erratic behavior while landing.

How to Land a Drone on a Moving Boat?

Landing on a moving boat brings a unique set of challenges, but you can take care of those easily with proper preparation.

When landing a drone on a moving boat, make sure you have more than 50% battery for multiple landing attempts. Then, set your home point to dynamic and disable the obstacle avoidance systems to help the drone orient itself on a deck. Finally, approach the boat's side to decrease the chances of collisions and try to land on the stern as it has the most space.

Following all these steps would prevent damage to your drone and ensure that the experience is safe and fun.

Final Thoughts 

Taking off and landing from boats can be a bit complex. However, with a little practice, you can get the hang of it pretty soon. 

Don’t let the challenging nature of the task prevent you from having fun. Just keep the advice in mind and never panic.

Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

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paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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