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Safe & Secure Page 2

Safe & Secure continued - Boat Security
Safe & Secure
Part 2

By Capt. Ken Kreisler — December 2000
   
 
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But there's more to worry about than taking on water at the dock. Reports of violence against cruising boaters, mostly abroad, continue to make headlines. The Web site MarineSecurity.com, publisher of the "Worldwide Maritime Piracy Report," filed this horrific record of events:

Date of Report: 07 June 2000
Vessel Name: Sea Lion
Official Number: 593849
Hailing Port: Norristown, PA
Type: 36' Islander
Flag: U.S.
Incident Type: Hostile boarding/armed attack (murder)
Location: Rio Dulce, Guatemala, South America
Incident Date: 03 June 2000
Details: Steven M. Gartman, owner of Sea Lion, was found dead onboard. The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds. The vessel was at anchor approximately 100 yards from Mario's Marina on the Rio Dulce River in Guatemala. The local authorities are reportedly conducting a "lackluster" investigation. The vessel was ransacked. No determination has been made as to whether Gartman was attacked while aboard or if he surprised the thieves when he returned to his boat.

While this is an extreme--albeit not isolated--case, it should not belie the need for vigilance and security aboard. Whether you are visiting foreign waters, going on an extended cruise stateside, or leaving your vessel unattended in a marina, a boat's visibility makes it a prime target for thieves. One of the ways to protect yourself is to install security equipment to deter nefarious activity.

Most of the information here is based on installations on megayachts. However, the same high-tech equipment can be scaled down for use on smaller vessels where the same degree of safety is desired.

To supplement their regular security procedures, crews of larger boats usually utilize a system of closed-circuit television cameras to oversee the dock, decks, and other exterior areas where an intruder might gain access. Viewing monitors can also be installed on the bridge; in the captain's, engineer's, crew's, and owner's quarters; in the engine room; or in the galley to monitor activity in places that are often out of sight.

When you're looking for a camera, Martland suggests opting for high-end brands, such as Pro-Video, Sony, and Panasonic. Choose a camera that will operate well and have good resolution even in low light. As heat and moisture can compromise camera operation, external cameras should be encased in a protective housing. For a 50-foot boat, a one-camera, one-monitor security system should cost about $300.

Motion detectors are also crucial security items, and there are some important things to know about them. Used in tandem, a passive infrared detector, which will sense temperature variances, and a microwave system, which can detect disturbances through glass and Plexiglas, work qute efficiently. If they're used independently, a falling book or the wandering family pet could easily trigger a false alarm. A basic tandem-monitor system for a 50-footer typically comes in at about $500.

Deck sensors are also being used more frequently. Once armed, they can detect someone stepping aboard. Each sensor can cover a six-foot-diameter area, and a pair usually sells for $300.

And to make things really tight, Steve Calabrese of Rapid Wireless can customize your present security system. After he's finished, you and your crew can receive alarm notifications via an installed repeater on your vessel, even when you're ashore. This unit will broadcast a 20-second voice transmission over a receiver/sender unit no bigger than a handheld VHF.

Capt. Carl Sputh of the 140-foot charter yacht Alteza advised me of one final security device: a visible crew. "We're always visible, patrolling the decks as we check dock lines, fenders, or our anchor," he explains. "In high-volume areas, a 24-hour passarelle watch must be maintained. And never stop your boat unless it's at the request of an official government vessel." As far as crew training is concerned, Sputh recommends one of the many security courses available. MarineSecurity.com has a full complement, including versions on CD and hands-on and custom classes for special needs. The CD costs $75; visit the company's Web site for the cost of classes and other services.

In today's world, taking precautions comes with the territory. Whether that means safeguarding your vessel against mechanical troubles or protecting your property and family, having the right technology can give you the upper hand and ensure that you don't get one of those ominous calls from a guy at the marina.

Flagship Marine Phone: (800) 316-6426 or (561) 283-1609. Fax: (561) 283-4611. www.flagshipsentry.com.

Newport Marine Systems Phone: (631) 689-7275. Fax: (631) 689-2127. www.newportsystems.com.

Rapid Wireless Phone: (800) 940-4991. Fax: (954) 968-2107.

Satellite Security Corp. Phone: (954) 522-0809 or (954) 931-3222. Fax: (954) 765-1355. www.boatstation.com.

Previous page > Safe & Secure, Part 1 > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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