Hardening Targets

We were savoring a meal of fresh mahi-mahi with new friends and soaking up the quirky backpacker atmosphere of the Caribbean beach town we planned to explore the following morning. Winterlude, our Passport 37, was anchored less than 100 yards away, just out of view. After lingering over one last rum punch, we dinghied back out to our boat in time to catch the last rays of the setting sun
Author:
Updated:
Original:
irons1

We were savoring a meal of fresh mahi-mahi with new friends and soaking up the quirky backpacker atmosphere of the Caribbean beach town we planned to explore the following morning. Winterlude, our Passport 37, was anchored less than 100 yards away, just out of view. After lingering over one last rum punch, we dinghied back out to our boat in time to catch the last rays of the setting sun over the picture-perfect anchorage.

After tying off our dinghy astern, I boarded the boat and started down the companionway hatch. Then I stopped and stared at the empty navigation desk where our laptop had been. The list of missing items grew as we went through the boat. Finally we came upon the screen that was dangling from the hatch over the Pullman berth. We knew immediately that we’d allowed ourselves to become victims of petty thieves.

Fortunately, most thefts from boats, wherever they occur, are perpetrated by random opportunists. You can tilt the odds in your favor by securing access points to your boat’s interior and changing your habits to make it much harder for others to remove gear from your boat.

If you want to keep it, put it away or lock it up. Go over all items on deck, and store below or in a secure locker anything that could be removed quickly by a thief. Those things you should keep on deck, like containers of gas for the dinghy, should be locked to a strong point on the boat.

Get local knowledge. Local VHF or SSB radio nets can provide information about safety issues and places to avoid. Even if there is no formal net, there may be a VHF frequency (other than channel 16) that is being used by cruisers.

Don’t discuss your plans on VHF. Avoid broadcasting information you don’t want to make public, such as when you’ll be going ashore, because it lets any listener know when your boat will be unattanded. Always assume your cruising friends aren’t the only ones listening.

gas

Lock when you leave. Lock all hatches and the companionway. And check the companionway hatch: Is it sturdy enough to resist a hard kick? Could your lock be cut with a pair of common cable cutters? If so, correct the situation.

Hide your valuables. We remove all our electronics from their usual locations before we go ashore. My laptop is hidden in a drybag, and I store our camera, cellphone, camcorder, iPod, and cash out of sight. I store the same gear in the same place every time to make sure I can find it.

Leave a light on. Lights make it appear that the boat is occupied. Leaving a radio on helps, too. In locations where opportunity thefts are likely, the more questions you raise in a prospective thief’s mind, the less chance there is that your boat will become a target.

Leave the anchor light on. Some cruisers I know have installed a motion-detector alarm in the cockpit; others have mounted a flashing red light by the companionway. The light isn’t connected to anything, but a would-be thief won’t know that. We have a Mega Light utility light (davisnet.com) in the cockpit, and we often leave it on. Alarms are available that turn on lights, make a noise, or both.

Related

IMG_7556

The Great Divide: Foiling vs Floating

I well remember the first time I ever saw a flying sailboat. I was on Narragansett Bay several years ago, test-sailing one of those old-fashioned boats—the ones with hulls that float in the water 100 percent of the time—when we spotted a foiling Moth speeding out of Newport like ...read more

04-Tamure,-pictured-during-a-Bermuda-One-Two-Race-some-years-ago.-300-dpi

Experience: Storms and Pirates

Most people have no idea what it’s like to be out on the ocean away from their comfortable lifestyle here in the United States. Back in the early 1970s, though, my wife, Kitty, and I spent four years circumnavigating the globe on our 30ft Allied Seawind ketch, Bebinka. Before ...read more

80_for OCC - 3

Racing: Ocean Cruising Club and Figure 8

The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) has awarded its Barton Cup, the club’s highest award, to U.S. sailor Randall Reeves. The award comes in recognition of Reeves’ Figure 8 Voyage, in which he circumnavigated not just Antarctica but also North and South America, all in a single year. ...read more

IMG_6855

Charter: Florida's Gulf Coast

Last summer, I was delighted to be invited to join two of my girlfriends on a sailing trip—my third, no less! This trip would surely herald my promotion from nautical novice to savvy seafaring expert. I was to join them on a charter in Southwest Florida and sail along the ...read more

SF3300-Jean-Marie_LIOT

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300

Though best known for its cruising boats, Jeanneau has long kept a hand in competitive racing with its Sun Fast line. The newest of these French-built speedsters is the Sun Fast 3300, which takes the place of the long-lived 3200. Design & Construction A collaboration between ...read more

03-200123_PM_MIAMI_31326_3065

U.S. Team Strikes Miami Gold

If there was ever a time for the U.S. Sailing Team, which has been experiencing a serious medal drought of late, to start peaking it would be now, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics set to begin in July. Luckily, it appears the team, which has won only three Olympic medals since 2004, ...read more

shutterstock_1466239997

Charter: the Greek Isles

If there’s one charter destination that’s impossible to tire of, it’s Greece. This Mediterranean jewel is simply so large, so varied and so special it’s impossible to relegate it to just a single checkbox on a list. This past year a group of friends and I chartered from Navigare ...read more

IDECsport_180919_106-2048

IDEC Tri Breaks Tea Route Record

Francis Joyon and his crew aboard the maxi-tri IDEC Sport have set a new record for the “tea route” from Hong Kong to London of just 31 days, 23 hours, 36 minutes. In doing so they bested the previous record set by Italian skipper, Giovanni Soldini aboard the trimaran Maserati ...read more