Make Your Boat Less Of A Target To Potential Thieves

Make Your Boat Less Of A Target To Potential ThievesYou would be surprised by how many people don’t follow the simplest of rules. Don’t leave valuable stuff like dive equipment on deck in plain view of every passing fishing boat.

Don’t leave yourself out on a limb. A robber will feel far more confident of boarding a boat that is anchored away from the other boats in the harbor. Anchor within view of the other boats at anchor.

Most robberys occur after dark and therefor a dark boat with no lights on is a much more attractive proposition to a would be thief than the boat that’s well lit up. A few years ago this was heavy on the battery banks but with the availability of LED technology this is no longer a problem. You can make them yourself for just pennys or buy them from the marine stores.

Whilst we are talking about lights, your spotlight or”Q beam” is valuable deterrent. If you see something suspicious in the harbor, light it up. If you are about to be boarded shining a 1,000,000 candle power light in their faces can scare them away and certainly ruin their night vision giving you more time to control the situation.

Dinghy engines are always a target so lift your dinghy at night and lock it with a chain or cable and a padlock to the boat. It is advisable to lock your dinghy to the boat when it is sitting in the water behind the boat and always lock it to the dock when you go ashore. 99% of all dinghys and outboards that are stolen have been left in the water and not locked.


Ok, so the worst case scenario happens, it’s the middle of the night and some low life’s have boarded your boat and are on deck. Do you want them to come down the companionway into the cabin? Much better to scare them away before this happens. Imagine as they were coming down into your boat a loud car alarm sounds, your spreader lights come on lighting the boat up like a x mas tree, a strobe light flashes in their eyes and a dog starts growling and barking at them. they would have to be very determined to carry on any further and they would be more likely to jump overboard and get away from you as fast as they could.
You can make this happen for less than $20 and a few hours work.

Every boat is different, on most mono hull boats the most likely entry point for a potential thief is the companion way hatch. On my Sailboat and several others I have fitted alarm systems to, a simple car door (interior light) switch fitted to the back of cabin top, so when the hatch is closed it opens the circuit. On other boats and in particular catamarans, magnetic door switches work best and can usually be purchased from places like Radio shack. Sirens are almost always available from car accessory shops the same as 12 volt strobe lights.

For the spreader/deck lights and the stereo run the 12 volt feed to the back of the switch panel and connect to the side of the switch that activates the lights and the stereo.
Where do the barking dogs come in I hear you ask. A quick Google search and you can find the sounds you want and download them. Burn them to disc. Leave the disc in the machine and set the volume. Turn the stereo off at the switch panel. When the alarm is set and the hatch is opened the stereo should turn on and automatically start playing the disc of the dog barking.

The only problem with the above installation is if you set the alarm when you are not on the boat there is no auto timer to turn it off, so if you have a false alarm whilst you are in town shopping, you will have some very angry and pissed off neighbors. The above installation is best when you are on the boat at night. If you want to go all the way and have all of the above while you are off the boat then you are better off buying a car alarm. You can still run all the items above from the 12 volt out of the alarm. You will have a remote control to turn it on and off from the V berth or when you are approaching the boat by dinghy. (it’s very cool as the spreader lights will light up the boat for you as you turn it off). Make sure however, that you buy an alarm where you can disable the automatic voltage drop sensor (if it has one) otherwise the alarm will go off when the bilge pump starts. The same for the motion sensor, for all the obvious reasons.

Infrared and motion sensor alarms tend not to work so well on boats as moving lines and flags can set them off so easily.

One friend of mine used a variation of Joshua Slocum’s tacks. He would string treble fishhooks on mono filament line around the perimeter of his vessel, trusting he would hear the results if someone was climbing aboard in the evening.

Another cruising couple I know electrified their companionway steps by running two uninsulated wires connected to a 110 volt inverter across them. very effective on bear wet feet. They did away with this idea after they came back late from happy hour and electrocuted themselves for the 3rd time!

Finally, on the subject of alarms, nearly everywhere in the world you would have an alarm on your house and your car, yet the vast majority of cruisers don’t have an alarm on their boat. Think about what you have on board and what you have to lose. NOW think about protecting it!

For more information on boat accessories visit red the 10 Things You Must Have On Your Boat article.

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