7 Useful Tips to Keep Your Boat Safe
Across NZ, as recreational boating continues to gain popularity, more and more boats, trailers, equipment, electronics and personal items are stolen each year. Most of these crimes are committed by amateurs who, when tempted with an easy opportunity, can't resist the temptation. Remember the old adage that locks are just a means of keeping honest people honest. This certainly applies to boating.
What can you do to make sure that your boat stays in your possession?
Permanently mark or engrave your boat, your trailer, all your equipment, electronics and personal items which you use regularly on your boat with your driver's license number. Permanently mark your driver's license number in a location that is not readily accessible or noticeable. The same should apply to the trailer. As for your equipment, electronics and other items, use some method of permanently marking them as well.
Make a complete inventory of your boat, trailer and equipment. List all electronic gear, binoculars, outboard motors, PFDs, fishing equipment etc. by brand, model, and serial numbers if available. Also record your boat by make, model, registration number. Be sure to record the license number of your trailer.
Keep this master inventory list at home and keep a copy for reference in a hidden place on your boat in case you find something missing.
PHOTOGRAPH OR FILM IT:
Take pictures or videotape your boat, trailer and equipment from all angles. Keep copies at home in a safe place. Perhaps alongside your insurance papers.
Boats should be covered and secured as completely as possible. Ignition switches should be locked and additional steps such as installing a hidden "kill switch," hidden fuel shut off or removing motor parts such as the coil wire should be considered.
Boats on trailers are easy crime targets if thieves can just hitch up and drive away. Here are several ways that you can help prevent that:
- If possible, store the boat and trailer in a locked garage, secured boat storage facility or mini-storage warehouse.
- Keep the boat well inside your yard, preferably out of sight.
- If possible, turn the trailer around so the it is "nose" in rather than out.
- In a carport or driveway, park a vehicle in front of the trailer, blocking easy removal.
- For any type of outside storage,ensure you use Coupling lock and wheel clamp.
- Use a high-security Wheel clamp or chain and quality lock to secure the boat and trailer to a fixed object such as a tree or post or ground anchor.
- No matter how you store your trailer, get a trailer coupling lock and wheel clamp.
Obviously your best bet is to remove all equipment from your boat and store it in the garage or other secure area. Make sure you lock hatches and opening ports. If your boat doesn't have them, or they are broken, you can purchase hatch locks at any marine store. When possible, valuable and easily removed items should be secured below deck in a locked compartment. Lockers should be equipped with non-removable hasps and hinges and secured with padlocks. Lock outboard motors and fuel tanks to the boat. When your boat is left unattended, close the window curtains if you have them so people can not "window shop."
If your boat is kept in the water at a dock, consider chaining it to the dock. Also, get to know your marina neighbors and form a marina watch group.
Insurance is an important part of any theft protection plan. Unfortunately, it's sometimes seen as a substitute for security precautions. True, insurance may replace stolen property and repair damage but there is usually a deductible that must be met and there are intangibles that insurance doesn't cover. Down time, inconvenience and aggravation normally aren't compensated. Finally, insurance companies don't like losses. Just one claim can result in increased rates and a loss history will probably result in cancellation or higher fess. Even when no claims have been filed, using a facility with a poor crime history can result in prohibitively high premiums or denial of coverage.
What should you do if you are a victim of marine theft? Immediately report your loss to Police, your insurance company and the marina or storage facility manager. When a loss occurs, the ability to positively identify property is crucial to its recovery and the the prosecution of thieves and dealers in stolen goods.
By following the above suggestions you can reduce the risk of loss of your boat, trailer or equipment by theft.
You should also exercise caution when buying a boat or run across a "good deal". If it sounds to good to be to be true - there may be a reason for this .............?