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Old 09-01-2010, 20:23   #1
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Security While Away from Your Boat

My wife and I are in the process of getting ready to live aboard full time. One of our issues revolves around our ability to leave the boat, head home to see family and friends once or twice a year. Also there are just those times when you might want to get away and go ashore for extended periods. I searched the forum and didn't find much on this so I thought I would post. What do you do with important documents, computers, valuables, etc... when you have to take a trip away from the boat? What do you suggest, what do you do, who do you trust, how much does it cost. Any info would be great! Oh and we'll mostly be sailing the East Coast for the first few years.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-01-2010, 20:38   #2
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We're living aboard currently although we're cruising and have no home marina. It amplifies the issue a little because we know much less about the surroundings when we leave the boat.

Having just done it for 2 separate weeks (Thanksgiving and Christmas), the things that went through my mind were:

- All laptops came with us. For us, it isn't the hardware - it's what's on them that are hard to replace. Plus, we'd use them while away from the boat.

- We only stayed at high quality marinas with other liveaboards around. We made a point of getting to know those around us so they'd watch out while we were gone.

- We left keys with the marina and let them know we were going along with contact info to reach us.

- We took anything really valuable with us.

In both cases, there was no problem at all. I think a really good plan is to know the people around you for times like this. It's probably a good idea on so many levels.

The experience made me realize that the really valuable things aren't those that cost a lot of money. They're more the things that are special to us. The more we live aboard, the more I want to get rid of valuable "assets".
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Old 09-01-2010, 21:42   #3
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Thanks, We plan on moving up and down the Eastern Seaboard throughout the seasons and won't have a home marina etc... and not sure I would want to spend so much a day on a transient slip at a marina. That would make trips pretty expensive. Do you normally stay on the hook or is marina life in your budget? Maybe during these times it's the best idea to park the boat/house in a marina for safe keeping. What did you pay to have the marina watch your boat while away?
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Old 09-01-2010, 22:37   #4
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BACKUP

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Originally Posted by ActiveCaptain View Post
....

- All laptops came with us. For us, it isn't the hardware - it's what's on them that are hard to replace. Plus, we'd use them while away from the boat.

Please keep in mind that if the value of the item is the data that you should be making BACKUPS.. A DVD copy of important data ( or 2 copies) sent occasionally to some safe place....

As more often then not.. a computer WILL break down... and then it is worse then being stolen, as it silently stares at your panicked face... and refuses to share your most valuable data.....

Backups are important, and must be done regularly.. (As often as when you do not want to loose what you have on the computer...)

Best...
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Old 09-01-2010, 23:10   #5
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When we are off the boat, we lock it up. In our eleven year circumnavigation, we never had anything taken off the yacht that we know about.

Most of the boats that I know that have had things taken, the robbery happened when people were off their boats for just a few hours. Some people don't lock things up and leave hatches and ports cracked for ventilation.
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Old 09-01-2010, 23:21   #6
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other way around while on the boat someone keeps stealing my lawn mowers.now people with mowers that look like the ones i owned cut my grass. As long as my children don't resemble the lawn boy its okay.
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:30   #7
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Do you normally stay on the hook or is marina life in your budget?
We only use marinas when we need them - fuel, water, heat, shopping. To leave the boat overnight unoccupied, I'd want it in a marina - but that just might be me.

In the last 4+ months, we've stopped at marinas in three places. To be fair, we've stayed at the one we're at now for over a month because of the holidays and because it has been too cold to leave (we're wimps). We should be able to leave on Tuesday and don't have marina plans again until a rendezvous in April.

Currently in Charleston trying to get to much warmer locations...
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:57   #8
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Leaving the boat on a mooring ball at an established marina is also an option, and cheaper. But do follow Jeff and Dave's advice: Try to get to know your neighbors before you leave, take the laptops with, and lock the boat, always. We know cruisers that leave their boats at anchor, but almost always arrange to have someone, another cruiser, keep an eye on it.
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:35   #9
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In many ways your property on the boat is safer than that in your house. There is much exposure for a thief to cross the water or walk the dock with stolen goods. Most items stolen from boaters are bicycles, dinghys, outboards, surfboards, etc.,- items that are ashore or on deck. We cable lock these types of items and we have quick release connectors for our GPS so we remove it from our binnacle while at the dock. We cruise the east US coast from Maine to the Bahamas and have lived aboard since 1972. One of our defenses, while leaving our boat for day trips, is our dog that barks at any approach while we are at anchor. You mentioned a concern for important documents. We keep copies of critical documents with relatives ashore. When we leave our boat for longer periods of time, more than a couple of days, we do keep it at a marina. Certainly some marinas are more secure than others; however, we never pay an additional fee for "watching" our boat. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:52   #10
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We have found it varies a little, inevitably. On ordinary cruising days whether at anchor or in a relatively secure marina we would hoist the dinghy (if we're aboard overnight), we don't lock, or even shut most hatches if we're aboard asleep. If we go ashore from an anchorage we tend to lock the outboard to the dinghy and leave the main hatches closed down or locked ajar, unless we're very confident of the surroundings, that it's not going to rain and it's hot enough for breeze, when we might leave them open.

If we're away overnight we would almost always be in a marina or a dock (eg a fishing dock, rather than a dedicated leisure marina) or a buoy of known strength. Most places we are happy with the locks on the hatches and the v strong osprey lock on our companionway.

If in a less secure place we string short chains/bicycle locks from the hatch handles to secure points in the cabin and padlock, to hold the hatches down and make it impossible to get in. We are not prepared to live with these all the time so these are only if we're away. (If we were somewhere so unsafe we felt we needed them all the time, we'd leave!). Overwinter, on board or not and afloat or ashore, we tend to lock the outboard on the transom, lock stern anchors and liferaft in place, remove anchor from bow roller, and lock it on deck. If we're aboard, the dinghy is locked securely somewhere (davits or ashore) and if we're not aboard, we lock it on deck.

We take laptops as we use them (and we do fairly regular backups). Passports, licenses etc because we need them. All GPS etc stay on board. The key is making the boat as secure as possible.

A note on the osprey hatch-latch - see 'Hatch-Latch' Security & safety system for yachts We have this installed on 14mm clear companionway hatches, and it's very secure and strong. It was on the boat, but unfitted when we bought her and we love it. Particularly that the padlock is too short to be cut open.

Having said all that, we have never had anything stolen from the boat that we know of.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:11   #11
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We have left our boat at anchor but always had some friends from another boat that were going to stay and could help in emergency.

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Old 10-01-2010, 08:15   #12
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Backups are important, and must be done regularly.. (As often as when you do not want to loose what you have on the computer...)
That's really good advice - you're right. As a software developer, I make backups every day and have never lost more than a day's work in the last 15+ years. But...losing or replacing a laptop would take 2 weeks of work to restore all of my paid apps, settings, passwords, configurations, etc. Then there would be the hassle and expense of having to buy or move licenses of software. It's a nightmare. I absolutely love getting a shiny new computer. But I hate it too.

I'll go even further with backups - keep them off the boat. There are easy ways to do that today across the internet.

Another reason to take the laptops with you is that if you're using your computer on your boat as a liveaboard, you're paying your bills with it. What a complete hassle to have your computer stolen and then try to remember all of the accounts you have everywhere (some that need to turn off). Keep written records of every account and password so you can try to rebuild and turn off things if it gets stolen. Try to pay everything with just a couple of credit cards and keep one credit card that NEVER is used online. Even then, there's no way you'll remember every little account that automatically logs you in that the smart crook could take advantage of in a way that's far worse than stealing things from the boat.

What's really needed for liveaboards is a way to run your entire computer life on a memory drive. Back that up on the internet and wear it around your neck so it doesn't matter what computer you use - just slide it in and all of your things are right there. There's probably even a way to do that today...
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Old 10-01-2010, 19:18   #13
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A good marina is a safe place to keep the boat. In places where we had to hire a watchman the cost was about 5 EUR per day.

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Old 10-01-2010, 21:14   #14
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On the east coast I would look at adding an "Entourage CIS" GPS tracker. There's a cellular data connection built in (and an annual fee) but it can conect to an alarm system or an alarm trigger and call or email you if there's an intruder or the boat moves out of position. And, track the boat via the same ways.

Then of course at least one solar panel capable of keeping your batteries topped up, and you may want to switch to AGM batteries in case the charging fails. Wet acid batteries take pemanent damage after just a month or two without charging, AGMs are way more tolerant (6-9 months) of being ignored. With an active monitor like the Entourage on the boat--you want to know there is power.

If the mooring has launch service, make the launch driver your best friend. Tip adequately, and give the drivers (or at least, the head driver) a twenty and your contact numbers, and let them know that if they see ANYTHING wrong, if they see your boot stripe is sitting low in the water, anything, anyone that is not normal, to call you and there'll be something extra for their trouble. Motivation.

Same thing if there's a formal dockmaster or watchman, give 'em incentive.

If you can find someone who works out of the marina, a woodworker, diver, mechanic, someone who is regularly around and has a good reputation, you might also ask them if they'd go out to the boat and check up on it for $20, maybe once or twice a month, just to check the batteries and bilge pump.

All way cheaper than salvaging a flooded boat.

I'd also speak to "the mooring guy" whoever sets the moorings, or a local diver. The mooring tackle, the lines, the links at the ball, need to be checked for corrosion and wear, especially if there's a storm. Depending on how new and oversized that all is, and the guy's price, you might want to do that every 2-3 months or maybe just after major storms.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:52   #15
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Great help guys, keep it up.. the more ideas the better. We'll be new the live aboard thing so we'll be looking to try different things until we find what works best.

Most likely we would only be leaving the boat for a week at most for seeing family from time to time. Do you have to pay transient dock fees in this case or are marinas likely to give you a deal for a longer stay like a week etc...? I've heard horror stories about daily dock fees at marinas that would make getting away from the boat for a week rather expensive.
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