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What security devices can I use on a trailered boat?

by Adrian Waters
20/02/2015

In this article we'll look at securing boats that are usually stored on trailers - either at home or in a storage facility.

What you can do depends a great deal on the type of boat you have and the options open to you, either at your home or the place where you use your boat the most. Where and how you store your boat can also affect your boat insurance premium but we've covered that in a separate article here.

As this article covers boats on trailers, we'll cover boats that are left in the water, in marinas or waterside storage facilities in a future article.

Parking trailered boats at home

For speedboats, RIB's, small cruisers, dinghies or any other water craft that you trailer every time you use them, you're likely to be looking for somewhere near your home. If you're lucky enough to have the space, putting them on your driveway is most convenient for you, but only really viable if you do something about security.

Locking retractable posts in the gateway are good; gates probably better. If your plot layout means you aren't able to have either, consider concreting a post or loop into the ground and using motorcycle locks and/or chains to secure the trailer. There are commercial products that you can use for this, some embed in the ground like the Y-Anchor.

Securing the trailer

To secure the trailer independently you can use the posts described above or wheel-locks - the ones that traffic wardens use to immobilise cars - but make sure they're ones that cover the hub so that the wheel nuts can't be accessed.

A hitchlock will prevent the trailer from being towed away easily. Some cover the hitch completely and others just fit into the hitch socket to prevent a tow ball being put in it. It's also worth parking the trailer nose-in, just to add an extra barrier for thieves, even if it is more inconvenient for you.

Boat alarms

There are many different types of anti-theft alarms for boats, from simple movement activated alarms that set off a siren to cameras that will text you pictures if they are set off, allowing you to decide if there's a theft taking place or not. There are also others that contain trackers that will broadcast a stolen boat's location and some that combine all of these facilities in one unit.

There are so many on the market that it's really something that requires an article in itself, so we'll be looking at that later. In the meantime the best thing to do is take a look on the internet to find the one that best suits your needs.

But it's worth mentioning that, if you're worried about the noise of a siren upsetting neighbours in the event of a false alarm, some can be set to strobe a light rather than make a noise.

Other precautions

Outboard motors need to be removed or secured as well. Locks on the mountings are worthwhile but thieves have been known to cut around the motor mounting, meaning you lose your engine and your boat is badly damaged into the bargain. If you leave your outboard locked to the trailer, consider removing the propeller - the rise in scrap metal prices has led to these disappearing with depressing regularity as well.

Don't forget to secure the boat to the trailer too if you can - this depends on the type of fixings your boat has for winching it onto the trailer. A lock and chain securing the bow to the front of the trailer is probably the best you can do. The reality is that if someone wants to steal your boat they'll want it on the trailer, so unless it's incredibly light, focus on securing the trailer rather than the boat.

Storage facilities

We've mainly focussed on boats stored at homes but all of the above can be used on boats on trailers that are kept at a storage facility instead of on a driveway. There are many different levels of storage facility, from almost unofficial ones to secure storage offering guarantees and onsite security guards around the clock.

If you want the best level of guarantee, look for a site that has a CaSSOA (Caravan Storage Site Owners' Association) award - there are bronze, silver and gold awards depending on the level of security against theft. Although that's about caravans, there is no equivalent organisation for inland boat storage (as far as we are aware) but a CaSSOA award demonstrates a commitment to preventing theft.

Take care

There are a lot of options discussed here and it's a shame that we live in a world where we have to take all these precautions. Decide what's best for your usage and we hope that you won't have to rely on them very often.

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