Securing your Boat During Uncertain Times

After over a decade of developing systems and products to protect military bases in the Middle East, royal palaces and even the borders of countries, I’ve turned my efforts toward protecting boats.

This pivot happened after an incident involving my own boat in 2017. During the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve noticed an uptick in boat security events in the Pacific Northwest, which include a 54-foot Sea Ray stolen just 200 feet from my office in Victoria, dinghies that have disappeared and copious amounts of fishing gear now on the black market. In response, I’ve compiled some tips that will help you protect your boat and your gear.


  • Make your boat unappealing to criminals. In my daily dock walks, I see a lot of fishing gear (mainly downriggers) left unsecured and outboard motors unlocked. Make a small investment to buy some locks from your local hardware store. All outboard motors and downriggers can accept a basic lock, which provides the simplest way to improve your boat’s security.
  • Secure your dinghy. They’re very valuable and generally tied loosely beside your boat. If you can secure your dinghy with a lock and chain, you create an obstacle for the thief to overcome. The more locks and chains a thief can see, the less likely they’ll stop and target your boat.
  • Add a security system. By adding a security system to your boat that consists of door sensors, laser sensors and a siren you will either scare off the intruders before they can steal your gear, or greatly reduce impact they have on your boat. If they do make it inside your boat, systems like BRNKL (pronounced “barnacle”) will capture a photo of the intruder that can be used by the authorities to apprehend the individual. These security systems will alert you via your smartphone, tablet or computer if someone has come onboard your vessel. In addition, these systems will also track your boat’s GPS, bilge pumps, battery voltages and shore power connection. As an added benefit, most insurance companies provide discounts to boat owners who have these security and monitoring systems on board.

Following these tips will decrease the chances of your boat being targeted by thieves.

Brandon Wright is a security and surveillance subject matter expert. He is also the CEO of Barnacle Systems, a manufacturer of boat security and monitoring products used to protect recreational, industrial and military boats around the world.