Simone Annunziata gets a bird’s eye view using modern tech and an old broom

On my 31ft cruiser-racer, I regularly carry out a rig check in order to prevent breakdowns during racing or cruising, writes Simone Annunziata.

To check on deck is really easy, only a bit of free time is required to see, touch, inspect, clean and lubricate.

But to check higher parts of the sail boat rig is a different story: at least two people are necessary on board, one of which must be able to climb the mast in the security of a bosun’s chair.

In my case, ‘booking’ the attendance of a skilled friend on the weekend is not an easy task.

Recently, I had to check electrical connections and the VHF antenna bracket on the masthead when I had an idea.

I connected a GoPro camera to the top of the saloon broom… yes, the broom I use to sweep out the boat!

I did it with the camera mount made for fixing the camera to the handlebar of a bicycle – these are usually included in action cam accessories.

A diagram showing how to set up a action cam on a broom to perform a rig check on the boat

Diagram showing how it’s done

Then the mainsail halyard (red one in the diagram, above) must be tied in the middle of the broom handle with a robust clove hitch.

Then a long retrieval line (blue one in diagram) should be tied to the halyard and handle.

With remote wifi connection established between the camera and an app on smartphone or tablet (Quik app for GoPro), raise the mainsail halyard and broom up to the top of the mast.

Continues below…

Due to the light weight of the camera, the broom will stay upright with the camera on top; the handle length means the camera will go over the top of the mast.

The camera should be tilted 30°-60° downwards in order to get a good view directly down on to the top of the mast..

From the comfort of the deck and the smartphone display, you can now get a good look at the top of the mast.

Fine tuning your view is possible by balancing halyard and retriever lengths.

An action cam secured to a handlebar mount

Camera attached to broom handle with bike handlebar mount. Credit: Simone Annunziata

The same idea can be used to check the spreaders by linking the broom to the cap shroud with a long bowline.

For best results, I suggest waiting for light winds and good visibility.

As an alternative to a broom, a light pole could be used (eg Optimist boom or GRP batten) but ballast should then be added on the bottom.

For rig checks it’s ideal – though you’ll still have to go up the mast if it shows up any maintenance issues.

Enjoyed reading How to do a rig check with an action cam?

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