My thinking on this subject has evolved (devolved?) over the last several years. In past I was also of the view that locks only deter the honest and in fact, the better the locking system, the more the damage that will be caused upon a forced entry. Indeed, about 25 years ago I had my boat
broken into just prior to departing on a 2 week sailing vacation
: since the thieves could not break the lock, they smashed in the teak companionway
doors - something I was unable to repair
prior to my departure.
Unfortunately, armed boardings of occupied cruising boats are on the rise in many areas of the Caribbean
. The risk, therefore, is not merely of theft and collateral damage caused upon entry - there is also a risk to life and limb. I am now of the view that it is important for cruisers to minimize that risk. Yes, the odds are that you will never be boarded: in that case, all you have done is spent some money
for peace of mind.
1. Install a motion detector by the companionway
door that is connected to not only a LOUD siren, but also a switch that activates the spreader lights. Quite cheap
and a pretty good deterrent to thieves, especially in crowded anchorages
2. Install security
bars on all hatches/doors that are large enough to permit
entry. The cost of this will be a bit higher, although for hatches, one can custom make some S/S (or even aluminum) bars or slats that are fixed by machine screws to the inside of the hatch
frame. One or two per hatch
should suffice as the idea is only to create a block for the entry of a person. Since they are attached to the inside of the frame, one can still leave the hatches open for ventilation.
Could thieves manage to unfasten or cut the bars? Probably, but it would take some time and, with spreader lights and the siren sounding, I believe that they are more apt to move on to an easier target.