by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
Q: Dear Boat Talk: This year I will be trailering my boat for the first time. I will be keeping it at a boat yard and even though, it will be located behind a fence, I am still very concerned about theft. What precautions can I take to make the causal thief pass my boat by? EW, Sound Beach NY.
A: Dear EW: There are a number of simple things you can do to make your boat less inviting as a potential target, and many devices you can install to secure your boat. You are right; the professional boat thief will get the motor, the boat, or the whole rig no matter what precautions you have taken. You are trying to protect your boat from the causal thief.
At a bare minimum, you should make sure the owner or operator of the boat yard is aware of your schedule. Always let him know when you will be using the boat and, more importantly, when you will not be using the boat for an extended period of time. This will enable him to observe the boat daily to see if anything is amiss. Always take the ignition keys and safety lanyard with you when you leave the boat. Ditto for all the electronics such as depth finder, VHF radio, stereo, CD player, and other non-factory installed items you may have on board. We would not recommend you place them in the cabin, if you have one on your boat. Once inside, the thief can get all of these items at one time.
If you don’t have a mooring cover or trailer cover for the boat, you might invest in one so that the boat interior is covered. Out of sight, out of mind, as the old saying goes.
Many products are available to secure the other valuable motor components such as the propeller, and even the whole outboard motor itself. Many companies make a propeller lock which replaces the large nut on the prop shaft with a locking device so that the prop nut cannot be removed. Similar locking devices are also available for the outboard mounting bolt nut. Remove the standard nut and replace it with a motor lock nut. This will keep the thief from removing the outboard motor. If you have a kicker motor you can chain the motor to the outboard bracket. If the boat is an I/O, you can install a locking device on one of the outdrive mounting bolts to make the outdrive harder to remove.
To secure the trailer, you can purchase a lock that fits over the trailer tongue to keep someone from simply connecting your boat to his car and taking the whole rig. Wheel lock nuts are also available to secure the trailer tires. They work the same as the prop and motor locks mentioned above. Some folks place a chain and lock thru the trailer rims and around the trailer frame to keep the trailer from being moved. Unless you use a hardened chain for this purpose, the thief can simply cut or hack saw the chain and remove the entire rig. Devices called elephant boots are also available. These mount around the trailer tires and keep the trailer from being moved by not allowing the tire to rotate.