course not, so let’s apply common sense!”
All the cruisers we spoke to have developed robust systems to secure their dinghy and outboard. “When ashore we always lock the dinghy with an 8mm stainless steel chain with a big lock welded to it, and the other end secured to a hard point in the dinghy. We had a dinghy stolen in St Martin. It was locked with a cable, they just cut the cable!” comments Bones.
Tereysa Vanderloo has been cruising the Caribbean and blogging on their Southerly 38 Ruby Rose (yachtrubyrose.com). She says: “Dinghy theft is unfortunately relatively common in some parts of the Caribbean. We work on the premise that thieves will target the dinghy that looks easiest to steal; therefore, we endeavour to make sure ours looks more difficult to steal than others in the vicinity.”
Carmody says: “Our yacht insurance requires the outboard to be attached to the dinghy with a specific outboard lock in order to be covered by the policy. The locks of course are very expensive and do not preclude the dinghy as well as the outboard being stolen!
“Paddles also go missing and I’ve seen holes drilled in the blades so that they too can be secured with wire rope.”
She adds: “The bane of our lives has been our bicycles. In the last three years both bikes have been stolen as well as various parts. It always happens when we leave them ashore locked up on the dock or close by, so it’s a landbased issue.”
Keeping intruders out
The tender can often be used to make your yacht less accessible – to both humans and wildlife. David Batten, who sailed his 56ft custom cruiser Alcedo of Ryme from the Caribbean to New Zealand, says: “Every night we put the dinghy away. This has the double advantage that if we have to move in the night there is no dinghy to complicate things and While caution is wise, many sailors we spoke to felt that making yourself known to locals and fishermen can make you less of a target.
Suzy Carmody says: “Indonesia has a bad reputation for piracy but we spent four months cruising through the entire archipelago and only met friendly locals and curious fishermen. Usually we give them a fishing lure or a couple of cigarettes to keep good relations with the neighbours.”
Bones Black adds: “Some of the local boat boys can be pushy and quite intimidating. I make sure they come alongside forward of the cockpit so they cannot case the joint. I also strike up a bit of rapport with them: ‘What’s your name? I like your boat, my name is Bones etc.’
“If it’s just the two of us I may well go to the companionway and shout down “John, Sally, Dave, Harry, do you want any fruit or veg?” just to make them think there are more people on board.” whilst in the Galapagos we were not invaded by the sea lions!”
Bones Black adds: “Most boardings occur at night via the boarding ladder or over the sugar scoop at the transom. Catamarans can be more vulnerable. A monohull can pull the dinghy up on davits to block the transom making it almost impossible to get aboard that way.
“We always pull the boarding ladder up and hoist the dinghy but we have quite a high freeboard so it is very hard to get aboard from the water, but not impossible for the persistent.”
Options to deter intruders include security grilles and motion-sensor alarms. Stuart
Letton on Time Bandit uses both. “Maybe to some eyes [I’m] a bit paranoid but then I do get good quality sleep. On retiring we always lock ourselves in with our stainless steel barred gate. This gate is one of the most useful things we’ve bought allowing us to leave the boat locked and ventilated 24/7.
“In some areas, Caribbean anchorages for example, I will mount our £20 B&Q infra-red alarm. This shrieks when a body comes in range. I have two.
“One is mounted in a poly bag in the cockpit, which would hopefully pick up movement before anyone gets aboard. The second is in the cabin looking out into the cockpit. I will often use this when leaving the boat for a few minutes rather than putting the hatch in. It’s a shame a marine electronics company doesn’t sell a marinised version at a reasonable price.”
Other simple precautions include leaving the stereo on, together with LED lights in the cockpit and saloon if the yacht is unattended.
One cruiser adds: “We also have a hidden safe disguised as a standard pantry item (complete with authentic label) that holds our credit cards. We also have a false bottom in one of our lockers under which is a second locker, where we keep important documents.”
Yachts with a high freeboard, such as this Bowman 57, can be relatively challenging to board from the water when swim ladders are lifted and the dinghy is up on davits
Bicycle theft on shore is fairly common, but rarer from on board. The Carmodys lock their bicycles to the aft deck when not on passage