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 Boat Yard Security
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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5239 Posts

Initially Posted - 08/26/2022 :  17:18:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This might be a topic that plays differently in different localities, but I believe it’s a pretty important thing for many of us to consider. As many of you know, I live in southern Connecticut between several of the big cities, but I live in a smaller town and keep the boat at a marina in a smallish city. Other parts of CT are downright rural (with cows, sheep, horses, cornfields and apple orchards).
My marina is located in a sweet area of town where there is a large New England town green with a gazebo, several very tony restaurants with indoor and outdoor dining, treelined streets with small shops and boutiques, and crime. Now, it’s not every day and Dodge City it ain’t (no offense to the real Dodge City, KS), but things happen that you read about in the papers.
So, until recently, the marina had Bill - the night watchman and former police officer. He would stroll the several piers, the boat yard, the storage sheds, the chandlery and the parking lots every night.
After a while he got to know us and a few other customers because we liked to go down after work and clean or fiddle or schmooze among our neighbors. But Bill has recently retired and moved elsewhere and the marina has not replaced him.
Nowadays, I regularly see trespassers at the marina. I ask them about their boats, and most often, they’re straightforward and admit that they’re not members. Other times they’re evasive and then just slink off. But one of these days there’s likely to be an incident.
So I like to use Wyze cameras at my house for outside surveillance. We have one by the front porch, on the back porch, in the side driveway and the deck/patio. They report motion, sounds, or people using WiFi and the cloud. I get alerts on my phone whether I’m home or out. It’s a lifesaver!
I’d like to put one on the boat. It takes one amp of USB power, and my solar system can definitely keep up with it.
But the marina’s WiFi is almost nonexistent. The marina actually pays for it, and it would be pretty simple to replace it - there’s a telco central office literally a block away! They offer 1G fiber optic internet for < $100/mo.
Apparently, the marina set up their current WiFi in 2003, and it’s like AOL dialup. I’ve spoken with the owner and managers and they tell my, “yeah, year, we’re going to fix it one of these days…” but the day hasn’t come yet.
Do most of you who are part of a marina, yacht club, or mooring field operator have any kind of security system? Do you think that I’m overreacting?

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT

bigelowp
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
1739 Posts

Response Posted - 08/27/2022 :  05:06:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bruce -- Fully understand the security issue. My boat club has no security and because of its location many think its a town park and stop in. We have no slips so boats on moorings are ok, but the kayak and dingy sailors are often upset when beer is spilled on their boats. The club looked at cameras/motion, etc and have similar broadband issues. We are looking to upgrade but still far from perfect. I have a friend who tried to install a motion detector security system on his boat but found that normal water movement triggered the motion detecting device and he was pinged constantly, so he removed it. I will be interested in what others have to say about this issue. My guess is we all just need to make our boats as secure as possible!

Peter Bigelow
C-25 TR/FK #2092 Limerick
Rowayton, Ct
Port Captain: Rowayton/Norwalk/Darien CT
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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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5853 Posts

Response Posted - 08/27/2022 :  07:06:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My marina had security cameras. They were connected by wifi to the marina office, where a computer recorded what the cameras "saw". IMO, the cameras were of dubious value. They showed that "somebody" was walking around the premises after hours, but they couldn't identify the person or show all the boats and they couldn't usually show that person in the act of boarding or stealing from a boat. My marina also hired a security guard to drop in occasionally at night and check the place, but he never caught any offenders.

I lived on my boat during the summers. One morning at about 3 AM, I woke to the sound of whispers just outside. I peeked through a portlight and saw 8-10 young men gathered around the stern of my neighbor's boat. Two were pulling the boat alongside the finger pier to board it. The high speed 40' fishing boat had top tier electronics in the cockpit. I slid open the hatch and asked what was going on. One of them said "We're just looking at this boat." They left. I pulled on some shorts, grabbed my camera and followed them to the parking lot. As they drove out, I took a photo of each of their license plates and each driver. There were 5 vehicles. I furnished the photos to the local police and they did nothing. Small town police don't know how to investigate cases, and small town prosecutors are part timers and aren't interested in prosecuting cases.

Nevertheless, that, and a couple similar incidents, stopped the annual boat equipment thefts that had been happening. Local thieves learned that there was someone on the premises all night who paid attention to what was going on. Many marinas don't want liveaboards, but a liveaboard with a protective frame of mind is, IMO, the best security a marina can have.

Many non sailors like to walk the docks and look at the boats. I did that when I was starting to think about getting into sailing. The fact that someone is walking the docks who doesn't own a boat doesn't mean he has nefarious intent.

Steve Milby J/24 "Captiva Wind"
previously C&C 35, Cal 25, C25 TR/FK, C22
Past Commodore
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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5239 Posts

Response Posted - 08/27/2022 :  18:00:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Steve, that’s an interesting story, and perhaps it was your presence and assertiveness that made the difference. I agree that a camera is by no means a panacea, but it is something. The WYZE cam allows you to listen and to talk back. It scares the heck out of the unsuspecting folks nearby.

I can recount four instances of “visitors”:

One evening there were two or three 20-somethings who were walking around the docks. They had stopped at another nearby boat who often take 1 or 2-week cruises. When they came over to our boat I assumed they were guests of my neighbors. Instead they asked us whether we wanted our boat washes, presumably to make a few dollars. My wife politely let them know that we weren’t interested, and they got the hint to leave.

Another late afternoon, a young dad with two toe-headed boys came down to the docks to got crabbing. Now there’s a sign right at the gate that specifically says, “owners and their guests, welcome. Other keep out. No swimming, fishing or crabbing permitted” I didn’t have the heart to turn them away. Those guys were so thrilled to go home later with a bucket full of crabs.

Two weeks ago, a 50-something woman was “waiting” in the parking lot for her “friends”. “Oh yeah”, she said, “ we go out on their boat all the time”. I was carrying several large items from the boat to the car, and she must’ve been there for over an hour. Nobody ever showed up.

Last week, a 30-40 year old guy showed up with his 50-60 pound pit bull and walked him all over the grounds. I figured that there aren’t any dog parks nearby, so maybe he used the marina as a dog walking area.. Awhile later, I noticed him walking down D dock, then C dock by the gas dock. I was on my boat working in the cabin, halfway down B dock — and when he saw me, he and the dog turned around and went back up to the car, and took off.

These experiences weren’t particularly unpleasant, but, they’re just all too frequent. Things happen eventually. I’d like to be better prepared just in case something goes wrong.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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5239 Posts

Response Posted - 08/28/2022 :  16:21:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I’ve given this a little more thought. If the marina can live with the risk, then I can too. I will literally be there for another 60 days. What could happen???

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
3994 Posts

Response Posted - 08/30/2022 :  12:03:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I find this topic interesting. When my Honda motor was stolen I went to the office to report it. The first thing they asked me was if I had called my insurance co. Next thing they asked is if I wanted a police report and if I did then I should call the cops. I quickly found out that Marinas are not in the security buisness and that the docks and winter storage areas do not have cameras nor do they have any night security guard. The cameras that they do have are all trained on their offices and buildings for their protection.

Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound


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Stinkpotter
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Djibouti
9017 Posts

Response Posted - 08/30/2022 :  22:50:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by islander

...I quickly found out that Marinas are not in the security buisness and that the docks and winter storage areas do not have cameras nor do they have any night security guard. The cameras that they do have are all trained on their offices and buildings for their protection.
This is sorta analogous to boat builders putting in lightning protection. If they do, they're putting themselves into a position of possible liability for damage, injury or death (which cannot be 100% protected from). So they don't. Everyone's marina contract absolves the marina from almost all kinds of losses, and the marina won't "muddy that water" by putting in some protection someone might think (and later argue) they can rely on.

I've talked to various owners and managers... Guards don't work--either because they don't do their jobs, or because somebody out-foxes them. Marinas have people--does anyone know exactly who they are? If a guard asks and the thief says, "Hi--I'm Jeff Clark, slip C-31," what does the guard do right then? ...while "Jeff" walks off with a $3000 multi-function display from C-31.

It's the real world out there.

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic/Stonington CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, USCG "sixpack" (expired),
Now on Eastern 27 $+!nkp*+ Sarge

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 08/30/2022 22:57:33
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
5239 Posts

Response Posted - 08/31/2022 :  07:26:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We have a new owner at our marina. He’s grown up in the business, his dad building another marina nearby in the 1970s. When I spoke with him last spring about the WiFi, he acknowledged that it was a problem because at the time he had received proposals from several security camera companies. Largely they recommended wired cameras because of the relatively low “availability” performance of commercially-provided WiFi networks. Roughly 99%. That’s ~88 hours per year outage time. So he’s aware of the issues.
Since then, apparently, he’s put the brakes on setting up either a WiFi network or security cameras. It might just be for the reason Dave and Scott are saying: they’re in the marina business, not the customer security business. Of course from a legal point of view, they have to do their due diligence to protect their facilities from damage or theft, but that seems to be where they draw the line.
End of the day, you’re on your own dude.
In my network of fellow boaters at the marina, I’ve asked them whether they are concerned about their personal safety or that of their property at the yard. Many hadn’t even considered it due to the relatively benign history there with only occasional incidents. Those who have thought about it agree that it makes sense to be more vigilant. Perhaps it might have to be something like a boat owners association to handle it.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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