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Boating Safety

By Scott Miller

Monitoring system at boats helm

Monitoring systems at the boats helm

The boating lifestyle gives boat owners the joy of the open water and the freedom to explore to their heart’s content. But boating also comes with a big responsibility for the vessel and the lives aboard, and boat security plays a major part in keeping you safe.

I recently received a call from a friend who told me about his stop overnight on the Savannah River at the free docks. He and his wife went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, his engine room door inside the boat was open, a stranger’s hat was in his salon and a pair of shoes were left behind in the cockpit. Nothing else seemed to be disturbed or missing, but someone definitely came aboard while they were sleeping and walked within 10 feet of their stateroom.

While my friend is sure he locked the salon doors, he wasn’t certain that other entrances were locked. He had also forgotten to turn on his cameras. This created a very scary moment and a few days of wondering what if. Thankfully, they both were safe, and nothing was missing. However, my friends are now thinking about being more intentional about their safety and the security of their boat.

Boats are valuable assets and represent a considerable financial expense. Due to the overall value of the boat and the items inside, your boat is also an attractive target for theft. Whether you own a weekend cruiser or a liveaboard yacht, providing a safe and secure vessel gives you peace of mind and personal safety.

Today’s boat security systems have many advanced features and are easily integrated with the boat’s current systems and aesthetics, so they don’t distract. These systems offer video, motion detection, local and remote alerts, and audible alarms.

With all technologies, you can look for the best of each system from multiple manufacturers or get everything you need from one source. My recommendation is to work with one manufacturer for ease of support and integration. While this is preferred, many boaters already may have parts of the system and want to add more features. Since integration is one of the key aspects of a good system, you can add components and integrate them.

Regardless of the quality and cost, any security system that is too complex or too sensitive and gives false alarms will be ignored or turned off and therefore does not provide the protection you seek.

Common features in today's security systems include:

- Local alarms: This system is designed to alert owners onboard or others nearby of disturbances to your boat. Opening a door, window or hatch sets off the alarm.

- Remote alarms: This will alert the owner to suspicious activities, smoke or fire alerts, or other happenings on your boat even if you’re far away. Notification is done either via text, email or SMS through a dedicated cellular device or the boat’s local Wi-Fi, cellular or satellite connection.

- Interactive: The owner can interact with the boat remotely and control various functions such as lights, locks and cameras.

- Surveillance cameras: These allow the owner to monitor activity on board and around the boat, and with internet connection, supply continuous monitoring, whether local or remote.

- Motion sensors: These sensors can detect movement on your boat and trigger an alarm.

- GPS tracking: This feature allows you to track the

location of your boat in real time.

Smart boaters want to protect their boats and ensure all the occupants onboard are safe and secure. The peace of mind and potential insurance discount from installing a security system make this small investment a practical item for your next boat project. Don’t wait for an incident like my friends to get serious about your boat’s security. Also, once you have a security system, don’t forget to turn it on and keep it operating well, so it provides protection for your boating pleasure.

Siren Marine MTC sensor phone

Siren Marine MTC Sensor Phone

WHICH SYSTEM FITS YOUR LIFESTYLE?

Many options on the market today will fit your functional needs and budgets. Some of these systems also have a subscription model as well as an upfront equipment cost, so make sure you look at the total costs before making a decision.

FULL SECURITY SYSTEMS

GOST Marine Security Package (GOST GNT-Evolution IDP):

This package includes a range of sensors such as door contacts, motion detectors, high water alarms and infrared beam sensors that can be customized to meet your needs.

Siren 3 Boat Monitoring System:

This system offers cellular-based intrusion boat alarm and monitoring systems that allow remote monitoring via a companion smartphone app. Siren has multiple sensors for safety of the boat (GPS, engine room temp, bilge high water, tank levels, battery) and personal protection (motion and entry), all with wireless sensors.

COMPONENT SYSTEMS

Spot Trace Alert Tracking System:

This system uses satellite technology to track your boat’s location and movement.

Garmin GC 100 Wireless Boat Security Camera:

This is designed specifically for marine use and can be used for both live streaming and recording.

Nest Smoke Detectors and Cameras:

Google Nest provides a single app to monitor smoke/carbon monoxide and manage cameras, motion and video/audio remotely.