by Robert Fox
Take a second and think how much money you have invested in your boat that is either sitting outside, in the garage, or in the marina.
And don't just consider the boat itself. You also need to take into consideration your fishing gear and equipment, skis, life-jackets, electronic devices, navigation devices, outboard motor, and the list goes on…
Of course the biggest concern being yourself and your family, if you have a boat large enough that you will be sleeping in it. So it's not just avoiding various types of theft, it's avoiding break-ins as well.
In any case, you've poured a lot of your hard-earned money into a beautiful vessel. It is your pride and joy. You want to show it off to everybody who passes on the docks, everyone you effortlessly glide past on the ocean.
Given that your boat is often left unattended and can be packed with expensive equipment; it's hardly surprising that it makes a tempting target for thieves. Black market boat sales make it very convenient for thieves to quickly turn your boat and expensive equipment into quick cash.
In this article we look at what boat security measures you can implement to better protect your boat (and yourself).
NiDAR is a long range surveillance system created by the company MARSS, used for protecting marine and land-based property. It integrates sensors, CCTV and multiple data feeds to monitor a 360° 'shield' around the high-value property.
Who is MARSS? They are boat security experts, who, on their website, state: "MARSS develops innovative marine and land-based systems for asset protection and life-saving." This includes not only NiDAR, but also CLiMBERguard, RADiRguard, and MOBtronic. They also state: "Our technology leadership is founded on over 10 years of research and development collaboration with the European Union, defence agencies, NATO, academia and industry." This is serious stuff.
It should be duly noted, that getting yourself set up with the NiDAR system is not going to be inexpensive, as you will see, but it is worth checking out just because it's so amazing - go here for specs: https://marss.com/assets/img/sectors/MARSS_NiDAR-Navy-Spec_PDF.pdf
The system uses specially developed smart software algorithms that analyze data to identify potential threats to your boat from the air, surface or underwater.
By integrating high-tech security radars, advanced thermal cameras and searchlights, NiDAR is capable of presenting a real time awareness picture to operators via an intuitive touch screen interface.
Here is a clip of what the NiDAR system looks like in action:
We recommend visiting their website and sending them an email to get info on integration of any of their systems.
While getting the kind of high tech protection that would suite a super yacht might be ideal, let's talk about something that is less high tech and more tangible - locks, and good ones.
Sturdy locks, bolts, chains, and catches, if used correctly, are usually enough to deter opportunistic thieves and vandals.
Like the deadbolts we've recommended time and again that are specifically for residences and / or businesses, you can't go wrong with something heavy duty, especially for a boat.
With boats, there are a few different types of locks that serve specific anti-theft purposes. For instance, boat trailer locks prevent thieves from detaching your boat from your vehicle, attaching it to theirs, and driving away.
Naturally, the beefier the lock, the less likely a thief is going to try to steal your boat. It's hard to imagine a thief having the guts to steal a boat, but it has been known to happen, and to prevent it, make sure your trailer lock is thick and heavy duty.
If the lock has any components that could be considered a weak point, a boat thief will definitely exploit those weaknesses. We can't say it enough times - use a strong lock. Here are some favorites.
When it comes to the boat itself, and thieves breaking in, of course doors are the most common point of entry and security can be significantly improved by replacing unreliable spring latch locks with mortise or deadbolt locks. Again, heavy duty is the name of the game.
In fact, make sure that all the door, hatch and window locks on your boat are in good working order and don't forget to lock-up every time you decide to leave your boat and head ashore.
Here's a great video talking about boat locks that we recommend:
Even a basic vessel can carry upwards of £1,000 worth of fuel. This can be an easy target for thieves looking to make a quick buck.
With fuel being such an important component, and prices being as high as they are, the last thing you want is your diesel or petrol being stolen from your boat.
Unfortunately, thieves can empty your boat's tank in minutes with a short length of hose and an electric pump.
By using fuel anti-theft devices such as locking fuel caps, inserts and anti-siphon devices you can prevent thieves form stealing fuel from your boat.
Basic fuel anti-theft devices are surprisingly cheap and can be purchased online.
The outboard motor is possibly the most expensive piece of marine equipment you own - and it's also one of the easiest to steal. That's why it is crucial to protect it.
The best way to protect your outboard motor is to install an outboard motor lock. One of the best locks available on the market is the Fulton Outboard Motor Lock.
It boasts key locking mechanisms, foam filler to reduce noise and vibration and can be easily mounted on most outboard motors. Well worth the low cost for the peace of mind it brings.
Here you can watch a short video review of this amazing lock:
Another way to keep thieves away from your outboard motor is to remove the hood of the motor when you are not using your boat.
This will make the outboard much more difficult for thieves to sell and you can protect the outboard from the elements with a PVC outboard cover.
These are simple but effective devices with a range of excellent security features that keep your precious property safe from thieves.
If you get a good quality product the steel cables are sturdy and ultra-tough and the pin impossible to pull out. Any attempts at tampering will trigger a shrill, ear-piercing 120 decibel siren to scare away would-be thieves.
Costing as little as $20 this is a great low-budget security option for protecting your boat. Wire and cable connectors are also compact, easy to store, and simple to use.
They are suitable for all weather conditions and can stand the frost, snow, rain and blistering sunlight, using only a single high-quality 9v battery. Now that's a bargain!
People always tend to use immobilizers for their cars, but why not for their boats?
Boat engine immobilizers work by locking and unlocking the engine using a concealed or remote button which can help to prevent thieves from being able to start the engine even if they have the keys.
Just like cars, some boat engines come with a preinstalled immobilizer, but if yours doesn't, it's worth getting one installed.
Yamaha have some excellent boat security devices but one of their best is the Yamaha Customer Outboard Protection (known as the Y-COP).
With a simple push of a button, the Y-COP can be locked and unlocked for ease and maximum security. When unlocked, the boat engine functions normally, but once locked the motor will not even start.
Immune to 'hot-wiring', the system is almost impossible to override or break into, making your boat a significantly harder target for thieves.
Typically the average boat is extremely vulnerable to theft not only because of the limited identification offered but also due to the fact that boats are very easy to move whilst on trailers.
Obviously, preventing your boat from being stolen at all is the aim, but what happens if your vessel does get stolen? All boats have a hull or engine number to identify them, but it is very easier for thieves to remove this and once they have, your boat will need be identified.
So why not get a Datatag? A Datatag is a sequence of transponders, dots and labels which uniquely identify your boat.
So not only could your vessel be retrieved if it is stolen, but with the warning decals that accompany a Datatag, any would-be thieves could be deterred entirely. Win-win.
Other boat owners are your closest allies in the world of boat security. So why not join a BoatWatch group and help protect each other's property?
A BoatWatch group operates almost in the same way as your Neighborhood Watch group. It is run by the community, for the community, and is supported by a number of agencies such as the police, fire service and local councils.
Many BoatWatches have dedicated community co-coordinators which have a direct link to a local policing team. This allows us to share information about criminal, anti-social and suspicious behavior in your area BoatWatch area.
Many regions throughout the UK and the US have pro-active watch schemes offering water and mooring site patrols, frequent boat safety checks, and discounts on security systems.
C-pod is one of the greatest inventions in the realms of boat security. Sporting a map showing your boat's location at all times, it also feeds you data about your on-board gear.
Battery voltage, speed, bearing, any malfunctions or warnings. It even lets you know if flooding occurs - all from the comfort of your own home.
And that's not all - it doesn't just show you information about your boat, it also lets you control and manage your boat systems remotely from your phone. In the event of an emergency, it will even send alerts to ten chosen recipients.
With online access via your very own personal web portal, your friends and family can track your progress if you are out cruising.
C-pod base package is easily installed and has a wide range of optional plug-n-play accessories. Well worth the money!
Most thieves are just opportunists, and they probably never set out to target your boat specifically. But when wandering the marina looking for an easy buck you can bet they'll be scouting for the boats with few security measures.
A simple sticker, flashing LED, or fake camera on show could be enough to deter thieves entirely.
While it might not be the most effective way to protect your boat, posting a boat security sign is better than taking no security measures at all.
There are also many way you can make it look like you are around your boat even when you are not. You can buy cheap smart outlets or LED lights that can be operated remotely via phone and set them to turn on automatically when you are not around.
We hope these boat security tips were helpful. Is there anything you think maybe we missed? Leave a comment below, and let us know your thoughts! Happy boating!
About Robert Fox
Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.