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Old 20-04-2008, 16:24   #1
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Can Solo Women Cruisers Feel Safe?

I'd like to start out this thread by saying that I've had a great behind the scenes conversation with Alan Wheeler, and via him with the moderators of this board. In that light, I would sincerely ask that responses to this post address NON FIREARM and most probably NON WEAPON approaches to the query. I am not asking about, nor do I want to debate the use of such --- I am interested in solutions that add a sense of deterrence and safety for women traveling solo or in a small group of other women --- but utilize a means that doesn't involve the risks or hassles of firearm possession in jurisdictions where that could get you in hot water. So, again --- PLEASE don't take this thread into the firearm/weapon territory.

Let me preface this by also saying that there is a lot to be said for good situational awareness, good common sense, smart choices, and also believing that most folks out there in this big world are great, beautiful wonderful people who are our allies as women. I'm not paranoid and I generally don't think people are out to get me by any means. By the same token, I and my partner have each done extensive international travel, and despite those things, have had a couple of truly frightening events that make us more attuned to the reality of risks of women traveling and achoring alone or in pairs aboard a slow sailboat.

So -- all this prefacing --- let me start with my question:

What are ways that we as women boaters can add a bit of extra security to our situation when making passages or anchoring in remote areas with 1-3 women aboard? I *know* these answers and solutions apply to couples and men as well, but as women, I think we are more attuned to these risks, esp, in other countries without a man around to deter folks with malintent who might note this.....so, please feel free to chime in regardless of gender or crew makeup.

- Alarm systems of sorts? Dogs that bark, things balanced about the boat that topple if someone comes aboard?
- Being from cattle country in Wyoming, I try to imagine how I could rig up the solar powered electric livestock fence charger and use it to make my lifelines give the same nasty bite as the horse fencing back home....

What are your solutions and ideas?
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Old 20-04-2008, 16:43   #2
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Acceptable or Unacceptable Risk

Ruling out men and other weapons severely limits you options. I'd go with the dog, but it'd have to be a real barker of @ least 30lbs.

In the end, no matter what you do, you will have to accept that you are facing an increased risk. I don't think there's a way to completely compensate for being all-female pacifists. Don't want to sound inordinately negative, but the world can be a dangerous place.
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Old 20-04-2008, 17:46   #3
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What are your solutions and ideas?
Don't live in fear.
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Old 20-04-2008, 17:55   #4
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Not a dog that barks... a dog that bites. A big one... maybe two.

Still, if someone is out to do you harm, nothing short of armed violence will deter them... goes for everyone; not just women. So, yes, live without fear.

I'll be interested to see if anyone comes up with a really good non-violent solution other than common sense, awareness of surroundings, etc.

Also, I really like the electrified lifelines idea
mm
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Old 20-04-2008, 18:04   #5
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Don't live in fear.
I think Paul has the right answer here.

I'd also like to add that your request for ideas will result in nothing more than has been discussed in the firearms or other "boat defense" threads on this board. There is nothing at all that makes 2-3 women at anchor different from 2-3 men at anchor when it comes to security.

If you think otherwise, you are selling yourself short. You are every bit as capable as a men of defending yourselves and each and every rule or idea that applies to "men's security" at anchor applies to your security. There is no basis for a gender line drawn here. Boat security is boat security. Your electric fence idea has been talked about many times on here as well.

You'll be better off going through those firearm threads, skimming over the hatred, and really reading what people talk about. Every hairbrained and good idea out there has already been discussed.

I can't see this thread yielding any gender-specific defenses at anchor unless you are talking about hurling feminine hygene products at them.

Otherwise, a boat with a crew is a boat with a crew.

PS: Slightly on this topic, but a little aside, I lived on a dock next to a young woman who lived by herself on her boat. (I think her parents got it for her - she grew up on boats and they lived in a large trawler on the next dock). I think she needed her own space.

Anyway, we lived next to her for a month (my wife and I) while we were selling our last boat. We exchanged hellos and were friendly with her, but not overly friendly.

After the month was up and our boat was sold, we were packing our stuff up and leaving. I ended up seeing our friend, who had always been a mystery to us - 19-20yrs old, 45' boat, living by herself on it... a real mystery. So... I asked her a few things.

I asked her how her heat situation was going for the winter... she said not so well. I asked her if she lived alone the boat, or with people (because I had seen some guys come and go). She got very VERY nervous and said, nope!! I live with my big dog.

Since we had been on the next slip from her for a month, talked to hear a few times, she saw me with my wife, knew I was married, and well... if you ever saw me, I'm the most harmless looking guy in the world to women... since all that was already established - I was shocked to see her frightened of some polite conversation. It's an example of her doubting her security just because she's a women.

My point being... that just because you are 2-3 women, it doesn't mean you are any less secure.

Sure... don't go walking in the deep woods by yourself or down dark alleys, but men shouldn't be doing that either!
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Old 20-04-2008, 18:09   #6
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:=) Paul, I def. don't live in fear --- and am hoping not to prompt any of that kind of thinking with this thread --- just trying to figure out if anyone has come up with anything novel that has assisted to this end !

I'm trying to convince the onboard kitty to imitate a lion roar, but to no avail......

I do agree that two women or two men are still just two people who need to think about security --- my only observation in travels throughout the world is that if someone is seeking "targets", they will generally go for a *perceived* easier one, and women do fall into that category, esp. in non-US countries. I find that it is this reason, not that I am not confident in taking care of myself, that I wonder these things. Frankly, the situations I've been in regarding being accosted made no difference whether I were male or female --- but the fact that the event happened in the first place was because of the *perception* that as a woman, I am an "easier" target.

I have read through all the firearms threads, and very frankly, have nothing against them and own several. I'm just looking for options that I might not have thought of yet!

Thanks
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Old 20-04-2008, 18:19   #7
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Originally Posted by windsaloft View Post
:=) Pmy only observation in travels throughout the world is that if someone is seeking "targets", they will generally go for a *perceived* easier one, and women do fall into that category, esp. in non-US countries. I find that it is this reason, not that I am not confident in taking care of myself, that I wonder these things. Frankly, the situations I've been in regarding being accosted made no difference whether I were male or female --- but the fact that the event happened in the first place was because of the *perception* that as a woman, I am an "easier" target.
Thanks


Good thinking! You're right about this. When I lived in Manhattan, it was always purse snatchings and that type of thing because women were perceived as easier targets.

Not knowing how old you are, do you remember the TV show Bosom Buddies with Tom Hanks... think the opposite. ha ha

Seriously, being a woman could give you one advantage though. If a lazy criminal thinks you're an easy target, but because you have gone through the effort to come up with a good security plan for your boat you are not an easy target after all, he'll have a much more difficult time with his plan.

Still... strength in numbers. If you have more than one person on the boat, I think someone who was going to physically harm the crew would go after a singlehander first.

PS: I think your electrified lifelines (as well as tacks, machetes, flare guns, and any other number of "passive" weapons) were all discusssed in the firearms threads.
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Old 20-04-2008, 18:23   #8
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As long as your portholes are too small for anyone to crawl thru and you change all your hatchs for strongly attached aluminium ones ( without plastic picture windows in them) that lock from the inside, it would take several hours for anyone to break into your boat. Big lexan windows can easily be melted.
A piece of 1/4 inch 1x19 rigging wire on a 3/8th inch dia ss hook , so long that you have to close the hatch to get it unhooked, will let you prop your hatches open to let air in but keep intruders out. A wheelhouse with small windows lets you check the decks without having to open the hatches and stick your head out. A small opening port , makes the testicles of any intruder an easy target for your slingshot or speargun.
A plastic clear container full of oxy acetylene or oxy propane, wired to a heating element, tied well up your backstay , connected to an extension cord, led to near your battery ,can easily be set up to go off with a hell of a bang, when you hook the ends to the battery, sending any nighttime intruder overboard in a hurry. There may be a bit of brown stuff to wash off your deck in the morning, but that is a small problem compared to the alternative.
I one heard of a young girl who horrified her parents when she hitchiked a long distance. When they said she could have been raped she said " No Problem. When they asked me where I was going I said" to the best aids clinic in the country."
A lady in the west end of Vancouver was grabbed by a guy at night . She said " Wait a minute. My husband is leaving on a business trip tonite, so why don't you drop by at 9 tonite. He'll be gone by then." The guy showed up and she had the police waiting for him. She didn't think that up on the spur of the moment.
In the boxing club where I train, about 8 guys show up regularly for the workouts. Last fall a woman showed up for the womens workouts and lost 40 lbs in six months. Word spread rapidly, and now about 45 women show up regularly for women only boxing. This also protects them from the most dangerous adversary they are likely to encounter, health problems from inactivity.
It is total gynophobic bullshit to suggest that women can't learn how to protect themselves.
Brent Swain
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Old 20-04-2008, 18:25   #9
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Paul Morgan said it best, "Don't live in fear".

Something drove you to ask this question. I would question who or why it was brought up in the 1st place.

A little common sense like not traveling too and from the boat alone and keeping your dress modest should keep you pretty safe. Attracting attention to yourselves could be problematic but even then, it would be pretty far out for someone to assault you.

One thing to keep in mind is that some cultures find it offensive for a woman to operate a boat on her own.

What do you do at home to keep, "Safe"? I think that you may find that single women may be in more danger walking on the streets of the average US city than cruising to foreign ports, JMO.
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Old 20-04-2008, 18:57   #10
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OK, well I think MOST of know that it all a matter of degree. There is no way one can makes one's self 100% safe and secure 100 % of the time (even with the G word). That said, how can one involve the odds.

As other's have mentioned (here and elsewhere), fear is big factor but this is a hugh subject and I am not qualified to delve into it so will leave it aside for others to discuss.

Dog's can certainly be excellent protectors, especially if very well trained (not necessarily as "attack" animals - just as loyal protectors). The bad guy(s) are never sure how dangerous / unpredicable dogs are so that unnerves them somewhat and balances up the situation. Of course some downsides on having dogs onboard!

Self-defence courses vary from forgettable to excellent (IM -very humble- O) but if one wants to travel down that road and really commit to becoming very well trained in "martial arts", I am sure that would be a great help in some (many?) situations.

Sound is a reasonable "non lethal" weapon, very easy to generate on board (and in large quantities). This could vary from an attention seeking external siren (and say strobe) to an absolutely ear splitting shrieking alarm below, just operated by a "panic switch". All the components are easy available off the shelf and are simple to rig up.

The electric fence idea of the lifelines are doable and could offer some significant deterrent to unwanted boarders.

A Wyoming woman should be familiar with the electric cattle prod but that borders being a weapon but again it is a matter of degree (IMO).That also goes for all the other existing "weapons" on board; flares, spearguns, kitchen knives, frying pans, etc.

I hate to say it but it seems to me that the old adage "attack is the best form of defence" is an inconvenient truth.

So get some dogs, wire up some sound alarms, sort out the electric lifelines and watch some Bruce Lee movies
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Old 20-04-2008, 19:26   #11
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One more thing just came to mind. The biggest problem that you may encounter is dealing with officials in some countries. Some cultures don't deal well with women as people in authority.

I am a very large man and I also had problems with some of the people that came aboard from other countries. I found it quite advantageous to let them push me around a little bit. I would usually have some piece of paper-work out of order and let them tell me to fix it. It helps to let them be "In control". I would visibly submit to their authority, to let them know that I know how important they are (because they are). As long as you show them respect, you can be business like and not apperar to be vulnerable. I would also suggest being polite and business like but not too friendly.
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Old 20-04-2008, 19:38   #12
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The premise of the question is unsettling. It raises the possibility that one can take "preventative counter measures" which would prevent an unwanted intrusion or enable a few gals on a boat to fend off some sort of aggressive act.

What would intimidate a bunch or creeps from NOT picking on you and your boat? If it looks shabby and there is not much to take, it might discourage thieves. But you don't want to have a beat up looking boat. But if it is shiney new and has a cool inflatable and a nice shiny outboard dangling off the stern, this is the veritable apple that these types just can't resist. Don't have a dink which looks like a million bucks.

You boat should look occupied at all times and so when you are ashore, locking it up tight is a sure sign that you are away. Try to find a way to secure it, leave some music on, laundry drying on the life lines so it appears that someone is around or only gone for a few. Leave some drinks or dishes in the cockpit again to fool someone who might try to break in.

A big barky dog can be a deterant, but it needs a lot of attention too!

If someone comes and you feel you are going to be boarded, (scary) I would have a loud siren and flood the boat with lots of lights which even stobe. Have some mace handy and perhaps a flare gun. Shoot it off and hopefully someone can see it, Smoke flares work too, as long as you can get some attention.

I never left my boat locked for 2 years in the Eastern Caribe, but I heard that the French like to steal. Perhaps a rumor. I wouldn't want to life with the anxiety that someone is out to harm me or steal my property. I've been mugged, but I refuse to give in to that sort of fortress mentality. It's so antithetical to cruising. 99.99% of sailors will go out of their way to help you. You couldn't ask for a better lot.
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Old 20-04-2008, 19:40   #13
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Originally Posted by windsaloft View Post
Let me preface this by also saying that there is a lot to be said for good situational awareness, good common sense, smart choices, and also believing that most folks out there in this big world are great, beautiful wonderful people who are our allies as women. I'm not paranoid and I generally don't think people are out to get me by any means. By the same token, I and my partner have each done extensive international travel, and despite those things, have had a couple of truly frightening events that make us more attuned to the reality of risks of women traveling and achoring alone or in pairs aboard a slow sailboat.
Hello Terri,

Good question and as you already stated, you don’t want to live in fear yet still be proactive in managing the particular attention, 3 women cruising on a boat might attract in remote places.

I think you already gave yourself the best advice in the quote above but perhaps a few cruising thoughts that you may not have considered:

In certain remote pacific Atolls, there is no word for “Rape”, so women alone are at high risk. Do your homework on cultural taboos for example in some societies being bare breasted is normal but if you arrive on a beach in short…shorts, the young men will riot.

Disinformation is a useful tool..... on top of the proactive suggestions Louis Riel came up with to protect yourself, so come up with inventive scenarios tailored for particular situations to dissuade any weird neighbour from acting out fantasies or thinking you are an easy target.

Trust your instincts and if something does not feel right about a place, just leave! (That applies to everyone).

Create Male crew, whom you talk to down below when at a night anchorage. Even tape some loud burly replies if your senses tell you that you should be on high alert.

Local fish canoes like to fish off your lights, so turn them off early to keep them at bay and play a tape of a growling dog if they still get too close. (A red strobe at deck level….like an active security warning light, also unsettles them).

Like anything else in life, we all have to take the bad with the good, but in my cruising life the good has always outweighed the bad by a large margin.

Fair Winds!
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Old 20-04-2008, 20:09   #14
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Maybe have two dinks - so one can be left tied off the stern while you are ashore and when you are onboard, it looks like you have vistors.

As to the electric lifelines - just thinking deeper into this - not sure how to make it work as you need a return path. You could ground the system through the water but not sure how effective this will be if the bad guy isn't connected to the water. Would certainly work if they were standing in a wet(ish) wooden boat or Aly dink. Would be worth running the experiment, an electric fence energisier is not expensive.
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Old 20-04-2008, 20:57   #15
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intruders

A loud air horn the, kind powered by compressed air in a can, may be used to draw attention, maybe scare someone away.
At night in the dark a strong photo flash in the face will blind an intruder for quite a while. Long enough to summon help, maybe with the air horn. There are some very powerful flash lights used by police I believe they are called Starlights which will temoprarily blind someone when shown at their eyes in the dark.
A loud dog, even a small one, can scare people away, or start the rumour you have a pet snake, scorpions, tarantula, etc. aboard many people are terrified of them.
Stay safe,
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