I purchased my Morgan Out Island 41 after becoming a widower. I had intended to sail solo most of the time and had a wonderful pilot in the form of my RayMarine AutoPilot. But I knew I could not stay in the cockpit forever. Being down below with a boat on AutoPilot can and should be a little nerve racking. I could see what was to either side of Annabelle looking out the ports. But I could not see what was in front of me. My solution was to mount a small waterproof, low light level, B&W camera to the top of my main mast looking forward. There is a 4" diagonal LCD monitor mounted above the navigation station displaying the view from the camera. The view covers from about 50 feet ahead of Annabelle to the horizon. This wide angle view allows me to see most all potential hazards in front of Annabelle while I am out of the cockpit.
The original mounting was a piece of 1" Plexiglas which was screwed to the wedge on the mast head. The ball and socket mount that came with the camera was mounted into the Plexiglas. A set screw held the ball in place - for a while that is. After about a year, the set screw would not hold the ball in place, so the camera kept moving around. My solution was to use a couple of hardened steel screws with flattened heads. I took these to a machine shop to have a 1/4" clearance hole put into the flats. The Plexiglas block broke into while trying to remove the old mount, so I tapped a new 1/4-20 hole on one side and mounted the camera from there. A nut holds the screw that goes into the Plexiglas to keep that screw from turning. Another screw and nit bolt the two flat screws together. And finally, another nut keeps the camera from turning on its screw. I have had no problems with losing alignment this year. While I used hardened steel, I can see from the pictures that rust is going to be a problem in the future!
The camera was about $100 and the display was about $80. A 3 conductor wire runs up the mast to provide 12vdc and ground to the camera and a signal wire back to the display. I used a twisted pair with a braided shield (shield is ground). I have never seen any electrical interference on the display. When out sailing, you have the illusion of being in a low, slow flying helicopter traveling over the water. While not a necessity, it is a feature that provides a level of comfort while being down below.
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