Safety and Security

john martin <symoondog@...>

In regard to recent emails about yacht security, it is inconceivable to me that a person who would not dare go to sleep in his own house in the US or UK with the front door open would venture to a third world country and go to bed with hatches and doors wide open. I personally could never sleep. For thirty years on board our previous boat a 38 Soverel sloop, my wife and I have sailed safely to distant places around the world and stayed in hundreds of remote anchorages. Our success is simply security: we installed bars on all the hatches and had a drop in flat bar screen in the main hatch. These allow hatches to be left open for ventilation but prevent intruders from getting in. (The one and only time we were boarded in the middle of the night was one evening in Turkey when we forgot to put the drop screen in.) On our Super Maramu I installed similar systems of two stainless steel bars (powdercoat painted white) into all our deck hatches. These can also be easily made of aluminum bar and painted. (In the bow and stern cabins, you do need to have a screwdriver stored near by to remove them in case of fire in the main cabin) For the main companionway I built a 2 piece slide-in screen of flat aluminum bars about 3/8 thick. The two pieces slide in the hatch door groove and a barrel bolt secures the horizontal hatch top closed, keeping the screen pieces from coming out and preventing burglars from getting in. You have to build it in 2 pieces to be able to slide them up and out (if in one piece it is too tall and will hit the hard dodger before coming completely out). You could also attach insect screen to these pieces if you wish. Another benefit besides sleeping securely at night with hatches open is the ability to leave the boat during the day without locking the entire boat up. Photos of these are on the Moon Dog album on the Amel group Yahoo site.

On the issue of stolen dinghies and outboards, it never ceases to amaze me that a cruiser who is going on his life long dream of sailing the world seeing places and smelling the flowers would want a 15 to 30 horsepower motor so they can speed through the anchorages and villages. That said, I was in the Caribbean a couple years ago and was appalled at seeing 32 dinghies at one dinghy dock in Martinique. All but one had outboards on them that looked like they just came out of the box. First of all, these outboards represent a years salary for most third world people. Second, they are big and can be well used by the fishermen. The dinghies that are stolen are primarily stolen for the outboards. No native Ive ever seen has a rubber dinghy for fishing. And Ive never been greeted in the islands by a native in a rubber dinghy. If only your dinghy is stolen, then no doubt it was stolen by a fellow yachtie. I use a 3 hp and a 7 hp outboard. No self respecting fisherman would be caught dead with a 3 hp. The first thing I do with a new outboard is take a heat gun or hair dryer and remove the brand name decal from it. Then I sand the engine cowl down and repaint it, putting my yacht name and some artwork on it. Once I painted an engine cowl with 7 different colors or paint, it was truly ugly. No one was going to steal that engine. I do the same with my dinghy, personalized with boat name and some artwork.

As for firearms, I carry a single barrel sawed off shotgun painted international orange. It will shoot flares and I dont hide it. In port, I keep a 12 gauge shotgun shell in it with the shot cut out of shell. When you need to scare someone on deck just aim it at him and fire. Lots of noise, smoke and flames but nobody gets killed over stealing something.

I also keep a 12 guage Mossberg stainless steel pump shotgun for the open ocean (I do keep it hidden). If Im attacked at sea I will bide my time with the gun hidden from sight until Im boarded. With hands on the railing trying to come aboard, and your boat in a rolling sea, the intruder will easily be eliminated and his fellow pirates sitting ducks. Surprise is the answer to pirates, cunning is the answer to thieves.


John Martin
SM #248 Moon Dog

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