Communicate with nearby boats. If you’re going ashore, go to your nearest neighbors and tell them in person when you’ll be returning. This can be very important if you plan to be off the boat for a few hours or more.
Lock your dinghy. If you leave your dinghy at a dock, bring the ignition cord with you. Bring a handheld with you in the dinghy. Also bring a small flashlight; you may be gone longer than you had anticipated. Lock your gas can in the dinghy, and don’t run the cable or chain through anything that can be easily cut or smashed.
Our boat doesn’t have davits, so at night we hang our dinghy on the main halyard on a three-point bridle. Once the dinghy is hoisted clear of the water, we lock it to the boat. Some cruisers take their outboard off every night and lock it onto the rail; we leave ours on the dinghy, secured with a Master Bar lock. We hoist the dinghy high enough that anyone coming alongside in a small boat cannot reach it.
Don’t describe your boat. When you’re ashore, don’t give strangers (or anyone else) specific details about your vessel. You never know who might be standing next to you and listening.
Dress conservatively. This is a good rule anywhere; leave the fancy clothes, flashy jewelry, and large amounts of cash safely on the boat.
Use one credit card. We use one card exclusively when we’re cruising. If the card is lost or stolen, the notification process is relatively simple and isn’t related to any other aspect of our finances. We always take the card with us when we go ashore; we believe it’s safer than leaving it on the boat.
Internet cafs. When you go online at an Internet caf, always finish up your session by accessing the history or preference component on the computer’s browser; the location will vary depending on the browser, but it’s generally listed somewhere on top. Delete all the URLs you have used. Finally, close the browser.
Lock the companionway at night. The lock on the inside of our companionway is relatively light (our choice), so we also place a wooden dowel in the companionway hatch track. It’s similar to putting a stick in a track to make sure a sliding glass door stays in place.
Bars for hatches. We thought long and hard before we put bars on our hatches. We were reluctant to do so at first because of the danger it posed in case of fire. After our break-in, however, we had stainless-steel bars fabricated for all the hatches and designed them so we could remove them quickly from inside the boat in case of a fire.
All these precautions are easy to implement, and most are just plain common sense. Implementing them in an organized way will make it much harder for an opportunist to come by and steal important and/or valuable gear from your boat.