Authors Posts by Jade Curtis

Jade Curtis


Drone Fishing

an image of a Drone Fishing over the water

Drone Fishing

Drone fishing gives new meaning to finding fish and delivering bait

If you have fished offshore for tuna or any other large pelagic species, you may have lofted your bait far from the boat using a balloon rather than dropping the bait and motoring some distance away. Now there is another way. You can use a drone to precisely drop your bait where you want it, in some cases up to half a mile from the boat,
provided your line is long enough to not disturb feeding fish.

Get a Drone

The first step is to get a drone. Many drones are sophisticated enough that you can avoid crashes into the sea, primarily caused by pilot error. I suggest that you avoid buying a drone for less than $500 unless it is used. Most drones under $500 do not have the lifting capability or a long battery life.

A drone that costs between $500 and $1,500 will give you the best choices, according to experienced drone operators. Battery life is a primary consideration, especially if you want to place several baits far from the boat. Batteries have improved over the last few years and can last up to 30 minutes which allows time to go a long distance and get back. Keep
spare batteries on board along with a charger to enable you to keep flying all day if you want.

I suggest a minimum of two spare batteries; it can take up to two hours for a charge. The an image of a man drone fishingtypical price is between $60 and $140 per battery depending on the drone. Another important consideration is range; you don’t want to fly the drone beyond its limit and lose connection; you may lose the drone.

There are different configurations that allow the fishing line to connect to the drone. Drones with long landing legs give you plenty of room to secure your outrigger clip. Ideally, you should balance the bait line directly below the middle of the drone. You can make a simple harness from leg to leg (using lightweight fishing line) to suspend the downrigger clip from the center point. There are also bait release systems that mount to drones and are operated through the controller.

The drone should also have a return-to-home function. It’s important to make sure the function is set to return to the controller and not the takeoff point; boats move. Drones
with this function automatically return when the battery is low or the connection is lost. You can also engage it if you lose its location.

Practice Makes Perfect

The second step is to learn how to fly the drone. Take it to an open area, such as a ball field, and practice using it. There are a number of YouTube videos that can get you started with the basics. Today’s drones are so smart that it should only take a couple of hours to become fairly proficient. Learn how to take off and land. Practice catching it in the air.

When you feel that you have become competent at flying your drone, rig it to carry a downrigger clip and polish your “fishing” skills before you do it from the boat to get a feel for the clip’s tension and how far the line can be flown before its weight causes the clip to release. Make adjustments until you’re confident the drone can take the line the distance you want it to go. An average fishing reel can hold around a thousand feet
of line, so that should be plenty.

Scouting with your drone Before you load up your drone with bait, you can use it to
scout potential fish locations. The drone should include a 4K camera to allow you to find fish. What the camera captures in flight is exactly what you see on your monitor, tablet or smartphone. You will also be able to spot potential obstructions and tidelines where fish might gather. Provided the water is clear enough, the drone can see to a good depth,
but, by FAA rule, you can’t exceed 400 feet. Some drones will automatically stop at that height.

You should be able to notice baitfish along weed lines, rocks and shoals and if larger fish are feeding on them. This prevents spooking the fish with your boat, but keep the drone about 30 feet off the water to prevent fish from feeling any vibration from the noise or the propellers. If the drone is loaded with bait and you spot a fish, you can drop the bait ahead of it. If the bait doesn’t release, fly the drone back to the boat to check for problems. Don’t try to reel the drone in hoping that it will release the bait.

Flying and Landing

You can fly in winds up to 20 mph with the latest drones, but it cuts down on battery life as the drone tries to stay in one position and is buffeted by the breeze. In general, the lower the wind, the longer your battery will last. Keep in mind that recording video also quickly takes away battery life.

An advantage of longer landing legs is it makes it easier to catch the drone when brought back to the boat. It can be difficult to land on the deck, so hover the drone within reach
and grab it by the legs only. Wear gloves in case you fumble the drone. The propellers nick the hands—it hurts and will cut you. The avoidance sensors will react to a hand reaching up to grab the drone, but it can be done and is safer than trying to land it on a moving boat. Some drones have the capability to disengage the sensors. Once the drone is captured, shut it down immediately.

Which Drone is Right for Me?

There are a number of drones capable of fishing, including 3DR Solo, Autel Robotics, DJI, UPair, and Yuneec. I’ve included the ones I’ve had experience with and are on the upper end of the price range, but with a little research, there are drones that can do the job for less than $1,000.

Waterproof drones are available, and they work well without the fear of soaking precious electronics. The SwellPro SplashDrone 3+ can land in the ocean and take off again and
drop multiple baits at once. The fishing edition has a 2.2-pound payload capacity, .8-mile casting range and 18 minutes flight time. The base price is $1,348. The PL3 payload release and camera is $329.

The not-so-waterproof drones include DJI and Yuneec. The DJI Phantom series is a popular choice among pilots, but the latest Phantom 4 is no longer in production (the Phantom 5 is expected this year); however, you can still purchase new (and used) units at retailers. The landing skids allow room to secure an outrigger clip and has a 4K camera with 3-axis gimbal. Flight time averages around 28 minutes with a one-mile range. Prices vary for the Phantom 4 series starting around $1,000.

an image of the DJII Phantom 4 Pro
DJII Phantom 4 Pro

DJI’s Mavic 2 has short landing legs, but Gannet has bait release systems made specifically for Phantom and Mavic drones. Flight time for the Mavic 2
Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom is up to 31 minutes. The Pro has 4K video resolution Hasselblad camera and the Zoom has a 24-48 optical zoom lens built-in and is currently priced at $1,499 and $1,299, respectively.

Yuneec has a few drones in its collection that make the grade for fishing. The Typhoon H Pro RealSense (six-rotor drone) has a flight time of 25 minutes with a range of 1.2 miles. A three-axis, anti-vibration gimbal rotates 360 degrees for the camera to capture 12-megapixel stills and 4K video. MSRP: $1,499.99.

AeroKontiki is a longline fishing drone built in New Zealand. Primarily for beach fishing, the carbon fiber drone can carry 8.8 pounds and fly in 18-knot winds. It doesn’t have
a camera but can take around 25 baits with 24-ounce sinkers more than a half-mile out. The AeroKontiki Evolution III basic package is $4,387;

Rules and Regulations

  • Do not fly above 400 feet and keep the drone within sight of the operator.
  • If your drone weighs 55 pounds or more, you will need a pilot’s license.
  • Register your drone with the  FAA. You can do this online.
  • Do not fly within five miles of an airport. Most of the latest drones have geofencing software that automatically stops the drone from flying in restricted areas.
  • The registration number must be displayed on the drone’s exterior.
  • Check state and local ordinances before you fly. Some states do not allow drones to scout or catch fish.

By Roger Marshall, Southern Boating June 2019

Yamaha 425-hp XTO

Yamaha 425-hp XTO

Yamaha 425-hp XTO

Yamaha’s 425-hp XTO ushers in a new era of power for outboards.

More than a dozen years ago, when two-stroke 150-hp and 250-hp outboards were kings, the large center console boats of that era—with lengths measuring in the mid-30-foot  range—had room for two, maybe even three high-output engines on the transom. Owners
who prized speed over economy were more than happy with the results, even then suspecting that the engine companies were on the cusp of introducing larger, and more fuel-efficient, four-strokes for the transoms of their next boats. The Yamaha’s 425-hp XTO would have been a figment of their imagination.

Fast forward to 2019. Boat and engine manufacturers answer the call from owners who make outboards that are larger and heavier than ever before their power of choice. Introduced at boat shows around the nation in the fall of 2018, Yamaha’s XTO Offshore blends new thinking and innovative technologies in a direct-injected, naturally aspirated
V8 powerhouse that was designed from scratch with fresh ideas about the outboard and its related systems to suit every owner’s need for performance and reliability.

The Yamaha 425-hp XTO

an image of Yamaha’s XTO Offshore 425
Yamaha’s XTO Offshore 425

“The V8 XTO Offshore provides extreme performance for the heaviest offshore boats and yachts,” says Ben Speciale, Yamaha Marine Group president. “This is an integrated
outboard system with 5.6 liters of displacement producing 425 horsepower and tremendous thrust. Combine it with the latest generation of Yamaha’s trademark Helm Master and CL7 Display, and you have benefits offered nowhere else.”

Extreme performance starts under the cowling with the innovative use of direct injection into each of the V8 cylinders, a first for a four-stroke outboard. Compared to spraying fuel into a common rack feeding the intake valves, direct injection into the combustion chamber allows a precisely measured and timed delivery that atomizes and burns more completely for optimal efficiency and power across a wide performance band.

Every engine must breathe freely, but high-output engines demand precise air supply delivery, especially at high RPM. The XTO Offshore features intake tracks on both sides of the powerhead for optimal airflow that allow more space for routing exhaust gasses to the lower unit where it will normally flow out through the propeller hub. But a remarkably
ingenious bypass lets exhaust gasses exit through vents above the cavitation plate at engine speeds less than 2,500 rpm, which means the prop blades will turn in undisturbed water for better grip in backing down or docking situations.

Getting it Right

Fuel travels through a no-float vapor separator tank that features an integral fuel cooler to prevent vapor lock on even the hottest days. The XTO Offshore is equipped with five fuel pumps. They run by engine control unit (ECU) which monitors RPM and load and produces up to 2,900 PSI—a unique system for precise fuel flow and atomization.

To ensure that the XTO Offshore gets the timing right, there are dual overhead camshafts on each cylinder bank driven by an oil-bath immersed, self-tensioning chain for long life and accurate timing of each cylinder’s four valves. Carbon-coated and shimless, bucket-type valve lifters minimize friction and increase durability for the valve train.

Cylinder walls are finished using the plasma fusion process to create a wall surface that is lighter, harder for reduced friction and much thinner than using conventional steel liners. From a design and engineering standpoint, displacement is optimized without the liners as well which contributes to increased power and fuel economy.

Yamaha’s engineers gave the XTO Offshore a two-stage water pump with a steel impeller and a massive rubber impeller to ensure proper cooling water pressure flow all across the RPM band. A side benefit is if there is ever a problem with the rubber impeller, the steel impeller will be constantly online to protect against engine damage. A dual-chamber oil pump provides consistent lubricity at any given speed. Engine and oil temperatures are regulated by two thermostats in each cylinder bank.

Efficient Machine

The Yamaha 425-hp XTO is highly efficient. She sports a 12.2:1 compression ratio, the highest found in any production outboard. Iridium-tipped spark plugs complete combustion and adds power and throttle response, and lengthens service life. During recent testing at a Yamaha-sponsored event on Chesapeake Bay waters, a Pursuit S408 Sport with triple XTO Offshore outboards leaped onto plane in less than five seconds, achieved 30 mph in just over 10 seconds and topped out at 6,100 rpm and 54.6 mph at 0.5 mpg.

With the throttles pulled back to 3,500 rpm, this yacht and its motors achieved its best efficiency turning 3,500 rpms at 27.5 mph and 0.84 mpg. Those are impressive numbers for a boat that weighs 22,685 pounds dry, plus a full load of fuel and a few marine journalists on board.

Handling was a breeze at any speed thanks to Yamaha’s integrated electric steering system, another industry first in outboard motors. There are no hydraulics of any kind—
no lines or reservoir to worry about. The mechanism, contained in a leak-free cylinder beneath the front of the engine cowling, is an innovative piece of equipment. Engines swing 31 degrees from center in either direction and swing precisely with input from the electronic steering mechanism at the helm or independently from Yamaha’s Helm Master joystick for easier
low-speed maneuvering.

Part of the integrated functionality includes upgrades to the Helm Master and the CL7  engine display that add convenience. The new SetPoint suite of functions lets the owner direct the engine operation to automatically adjust the boat and motors for set and drift or to hold position. Continuing the theme of convenience, Yamaha has incorporated an in-water gear lube service system to drain and replace lower unit lubricant while the boat is
in the water and avoid expensive haulouts.

Show Stopper

Yamaha’s engineers have also given the XTO Offshore two methods for flushing the outboard when putting the boat to bed and numerous other important features that make the new XTO Offshore a force not to ignore.

Available in the company’s traditional gray or white coatings or unpainted for custom paint-matching applications, the Yamaha XTO Offshore comes in 25-inch, 30-inch and 35-inch shaft lengths with right- or left-hand rotation. They sport specifically designed three-blade stainless steel props ranging from 16-inch to 17 1/8-inch in diameter with a variety of pitch measurements that are oversized to extract maximum thrust. The new XTO  Offshore may be just the solution for your next boat.

By John Wooldridge, Southern Boating July 2019

Regulator 26XO

Regulator 26XO

Regulator 26XO

Crossover. That’s how Regulator Marine describes its new Regulator 26XO.

She goes from lakes to skinny coastal waters to offshore fishing grounds.

The 26XO honors Regulator’s commitment to fishing but is focused on family time and bringing new people into boating. The 26XO has more than 122 square feet of deck space, plenty of seating and a good amount of stowage space. The compact 26XO is a comprehensive package right out the door. A single Yamaha 300 outboard, one Garmin 16 MFD, a 280-quart fishbox, a hardtop with a wraparound windshield, and a tackle center are standard.

Options include a factory-installed, 10-foot PowerPole for shallow water anchoring, a removable watersports tow bar and a Minn Kota trolling motor on the bow. Add built-in coolers, a stand-up head, and a swim platform with a retractable ladder to play all day. And with a 14-inch draft (with the engine up) there are few places this little gem can’t go.

26′ 9″ LOA, 9′ 3″ beam

Return to the Center Console Roundup

Mai Tai

an imag eof the classic mai tai

Mai Tai

Make the storied Mai Tai and tell the tale to those on board!

The Mai Tai started as a rum cocktail so popular it supposedly depleted world rum supplies in the 1940s and ’50s. In 1944, when the cocktail was invented by Victor J. Bergeron — better known as Trader Vic — it wasn’t a sugar bomb.

It was a simple drink created to showcase the pungent flavor of a 17-year-old J. Wray and Nephew Jamaican rum: Bergeron highlighted the golden, medium-bodied rum with just a touch of lime, orgeat, orange curaçao, and simple syrup.

According to legend, after shaking the concoction with ice and presenting the cocktail to some of his visiting Tahitian friends, they ended up liking it so much one of them exclaimed, “Maita’i roa a’e,” which translates to “out of this world! The best!” Bergeron christened his new cocktail “Mai Tai,” as in “the best.”

2 cups white rum
2 cups Triple Sec
2 cups orange juice
1 cups lime juice
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
4 orange slices, halved

Place first 4 ingredients into an ice-filled shaker.

Add water and sugar to separate plates/shallow bowls. Dip rims of 8 glasses in water, then sugar. Shake ingredients and pour evenly into glasses.

Garnish with half an orange slice.

By Lori Ross, Southern Boating July 2019

Still Hungry? Try these Haiwiian Treats!

Chicken Salad Bites

Polynesian Shrimp

Tiki Noodles

Polynesian Meatballs

Hawaiian Salsa

Hawaiian Salsa

Hawaiian Salsa

Hawaiian Salsa

Take your tastebuds on a trip to the islands with this tangy Hawaiian Salsa.

Sweet and savory, this tangy twist on salsa will have everyone on board saying Aloha! 

14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes, drained
½ orange bell pepper, diced
½ purple onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
½ bunch cilantro, minced
½ Tbsp. garlic, minced
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 cup mango, diced
1 cup pineapple, diced
Tortilla chips

Mix first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in mango and pineapple.

Chill and serve this salsa with tortilla chips.

By Lori Ross, Southern Boating July 2019

Still Hungry? Try these Haiwiian Treats!

Chicken Salad Bites

Polynesian Shrimp

Tiki Noodles

Polynesian Meatballs

Mai Tai




Top 15 Tenders and RIBS

Tiara 34LX

Horizon PC65

Annual Haul Out Guide