Yacht Security Tips
Thinking about getting a yacht, but scared stiff of all the stories you might have heard about modern day pirates or yacht-invasions? Don’t worry, these situations are very uncommon…but remember that you are your own little country sometimes in the middle of often “nowhere”. Here are some yacht security tips which might make sense (and indeed involves a lot of common sense).
Yacht Security should foremost make your yacht’s possessions not easy to steal!
Indeed, the most common yacht security issue is the possibility of getting your stuff ripped off. You should remember that most idyllic cruising grounds are way off the beaten path…and populated by few people who don’t have local stores to run down to. In my longtime cruising experiences, I find that islanders in general are extremely honest and hospitable. But, like anywhere in the world, there are some bad apples in the bunch. You show up with your fancy yacht and the guy who hasn’t had any income in a month starts looking at your stuff with envy. However, you (the yacht owner) have something in your favor – being islands are very small communities and stolen goods are not so easy to conceal as well as the folks know each other quite well.
With this said, making it difficult or at least not easy prey for local bad apples to steal boat gear is to make it less appealing to take the risk. Here are some common sense tips for yacht security in regards to theft:
Tenders are the most likely target for many yacht thefts. Along with ideas such as making your engine not so new looking by simply replacing the cowling with an older one, consider taking a used tender which has lost some luster (but still runs good). Since many yachters in the Bahamas tow a center console tender (which makes a lot of sense for getting around and water sports), leave the new RIB tender on the deck when not using it.
Many insurance companies insist on placing a small beacon hidden on board expensive tenders. One such as made by SPOT is easy to install and can allow tracking of the vessel anywhere globally if stolen.
Electronics such as plotters should be protected from being easily removed by several methods including making the rear access difficult to get to or by installing a simple home security system with a motion detector (and obnoxious siren) behind the unit…once removed and the alarm goes off, it will likely be abandoned in a hurry. If you use a home system for yacht security, put a visible label onboard to warn intruders…and let the local dockmaster or cruising mate know how to either get a hold of you or be able to disable the siren.
Don’t leave your boat open while gone…tuck keys in a well-hidden area or put in a lockbox. Ditto goes for leaving valuable stuff lying around…even while sleeping.
Yacht Security also means taking measures to keep the yacht from being stolen when not aboard
As mentioned above, a home security or more dedicated yacht security system might be installed. Dedicated yacht security systems might include hidden deck, window, door and hatch sensors along with motion detectors which can be hooked to a noisy siren, floodlight switches and even be rigged to alert you by mobile device when tripped. Once again, ensure that you have the ability to disable the noise directly or by assistance…not a good way to make friends in marinas if an alarm cannot be disabled!
A simple way to prevent the yacht from being started up by a would-be thief is to install some hidden ignition cut-out switches which are hard to find. One of my customers had a large cruiser stolen simply because the thief stepped aboard, found the keys, started the boat and took off. You can bet that the owner remedied this quickly and installed these hidden switches.
Also, treat your yacht as your sanctuary and don’t allow unknown locals aboard…until you have some assurance by others (whether dockmaster, fellow cruisers, etc) that they are honest and reliable. Often it becomes necessary and very practical to engage one or so of the locals to look after your boat and help with chores. This can be used to your advantage – remember that most islands and small towns are very tight…which also means that a dependable local can assist with keeping away the undersirables. Spread some wealth appropriately…but use caution!
Yacht Security for would be Pirates
Piracy is uncommon in the western hemisphere and when it does occur, it is likely in a very remote area. When cruising and anchoring in very remote and third world areas, common sense ideas might include finding a fellow cruiser with a similar itinerary, or introducing yourself for like-minded cruisers in the same area and keeping an eye on each other. The best advice is to know about potentially problematic areas by keeping in touch with the ‘cruising net’, government agencies and staying away.
A few words about firearms. Most island and third world countries don’t like firearms to be carried aboard – especially handguns and assault style weapons – simply because they don’t want them to be stolen only to end up in the hands of local bad guys. The most likely permissible and useful weapons are ordinary shotguns (not fancy ones – which may be desired to your detriment by the local authorities). You are required to declare weapons when you clear any customs, so ask if it is okay to keep your firearms in a locked and concealed cabinet. Note that some cruisers believe that not declaring arms is okay…but if you do not declare, you may find yourself in very hot water indeed as it is highly illegal globally! So you better make sure that your firearms are not easily found or accessed…which really might not do you so much good when you need them. And don’t underestimate the value of good and well-placed flare guns…these are little shotguns in essence and will certainly add value to ‘illuminating’ the situation when used. Last I heard, a lit flare is very hard to put out once it enters a body cavity. Just be careful not to place flare-guns where they can be used against you! Don’t scrimp on spare and good quality flares!
A number of yacht security companies are available (especially here in South Florida) to train you and crew members how to deal with yacht security issues, how to react to threatening situations and firearms training. A recent article in Yachting magazine includes more perspective into this. One idea in this article included the idea of a ‘quick cash stash’ which can be pulled out to defuse a situation before it gets worse (which hopefully never come to this).
Personally, I think that a few strategically placed DSC VHF handheld radios within easy reach are a great idea for yacht security. Did you know that the distress button when activated will alert all commercial and rescue traffic in your VHF (line of sight) range if coupled with an MMSI number and will provide your exact coordinates? Just be aware that if you engage the distress button; essentially you are declaring a “Mayday” situation which means that you are sinking – so use it wisely!
Yacht Security should be considered with all other aspects of yacht safety
Once you are aboard your fine yacht, you are essentially your own little island, not to mention a part of the country where your boat is registered. If trouble finds you, the ‘flag’ country in addition to your citizenship will afford some degree of shielding – BUT you should use common sense and prudence to keep trouble away from you, your cruising mates and your yacht.
When at anchor, common sense dictates an anchor watch which should be doubled as a security watch. If your electronics offer the capability, set your radar perimeter alarm to a few hundred yards with an alarm. Ensure that your spotlight (and have a few handheld spotlights aboard), is ready to go in order to spot approaching watercraft and otherwise dangerous situations. Make sure that your watch standers know where the right switches are and the protocol for making a vhf call. Keep your doors locked and security system on. Know where the flood and decklights switches are. Think clearly about your location and think yacht security!
Please feel free to contact Andy Kniffin CPYB (certified professional yacht broker) at (954) 292-0629 , email@example.com with any questions, comments or otherwise! Thanks for visiting our site – we are looking forward to making your yachting choices the most remarkable ones of your life!