Visit your keel – and stay dry!

Here’s a quick tip for satisfying your boating curiosity and, if necessary, shedding light on a problem you may, one day, encounter underway (such has hitting a dead-head with a prop, fouling an anchor line, or worse!).

It has to do with observing the underside, or keel, of your boat, and doing so while (1) remaining perfectly dry and (2) not having to haul your boat out to a trailer or dry-dock.

This past Seafair Sunday I decided to experiment with a GoPro HERO3 HD camera by attaching it to a utility pole and submersing it at the stern of the MV LAIKA. What I received was a pleasant surprise and, for me, a rare glimpse into observing our two Mercury I/O drives in action.

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If you’ve watched any extreme sports these past few years (skiing, motocross, base jumping, etc.) or broadcast TV personalities reporting from inside a car, you’ve likely experienced footage from the amazing GoPRO (or similar) camera. This class of small digital cameras are fitted with incredibly wide angle, relatively fast, fixed-focus lenses. They deliver stunning HD quality video.

While floating 200 feet above the bottom of Lake Washington, just North of the I90 bridge, I decided to attach my HERO3 camera to a utility pole and submerse it under water. The brief video below demonstrates the clarity and quality of the captured footage. You’ll see our port-side engine, swim deck and one of the trim tabs. The starboard engine can be seen briefly.

If you’re familiar with the MV LAIKA you’ll know it’s outfitted with Mercury’s Axius computerized drive system. That’s why the props were occasionally spinning. The GPS-controlled “Skyhook” electronic anchoring system was running and the boat was attempting to keep its position. Note – it’s incredibly dangerous to be anywhere near the engines when this system is running and we would never allow anyone to enter the water while it’s on. Actually, as policy goes aboard our boat – no one gets into the water or near the swim deck when the engines are on and the keys are even physically connected to the console.

To date I’ve used ¬†GoPro cameras to capture bike riding adventures, skiing and, now, the keel of our boat. They’re fun to use and you’ll find numerous uses for them – some entertaining and some very practical.

GoPro cameras start at $199 (you can pick them up online or at Best Buy) and current models use micro SD cards for storage. A 32GB class 10 card runs around $24 and can store hours and hours of 1080p HD footage.