Security systems for cruising vessels
Ensuring the security of a cruising boat in your home marina usually involves nothing more than clamping a padlock on the companionway, checking the dock lines and leaving the rest to marina security. Anywhere outside the periphery of your marina, though, you might want to consider some extra measure of safety for your floating castle.
“Vessel security” means a lot of things to a lot of skippers, encompassing everything from the bilge to GPS position and exposure to uninvited guests. A number of security systems actually cover all of these wide-ranging facets of security, and more.
The Siren Marine MTC Device offers a comprehensive set of security sensors, claiming to be “the most versatile and reliable system on the market.” Their smartphone app gives you round-the-clock access to your vessel’s bilge level and to a set of optional entry alarms and motion sensors.
The device also provides readings on engine temperature and may be configured to control lights, air conditioning, refrigeration and many other onboard electrical systems. At a cost of $600 plus a monthly fee of $18, the Siren Marine MTC is certainly within an affordable range for most cruisers.
Another well-known security system is the Aqualarm, which offers far more than a central monitoring unit connectable to an array of devices. A wide complement of sensors for bilge water flow, engine coolant temperature, excessive exhaust temperature, fire, smoke, unauthorized boarding, battery charge and other inputs provides you a level of security that is hard to match.
A truly novel device is Aqualarm’s pressure-sensing control mat, which can detect intruders silently as they enter the companionway. The basic version communicates strictly with the control center. The standalone version, at a cost of $450, notifies you by cellphone connection, alerting you the very moment someone sets foot on the device.
The core of Aqualarm’s security network is a wireless control system comprised of a central unit, wireless motion sensor, two wireless hatch/porthole sensors and capability of communicating with a total of up to 24 sensors. At $299 for the control system, $399 for the cellular alarm communicator, an annual renewal fee of $114 and extra costs for the individual sensors, the Aqualarm is hardly cheap but still a drop in the bucket when compared to the cost of maintaining a high-end yacht.
Global Ocean Security Technologies, known better as GOST, offers an array of highly sophisticated onboard networks for the most demanding yacht owners. The core of the GOST Apparition, designed for the high-end yacht, is a CPU, which is controlled by a remote touch-screen monitor.
You can link the Apparition to a total of 192 sensors, including 32 external and internal doors and hatches, and you can check on each individually with any one of the 16 touch-screens distributed through your vessel — wow! The motion detector on my 30-foot sloop Saltaire is the level in my rum glass.
Other security systems abound, some with monthly costs, others without such fees and offering rudimentary sensors and alarm systems, but even a simple device is better than nothing, particularly in foreign ports. Find the security device or array that best fits your budget, vessel and lifestyle, or leave the job to the padlock — and luck.
Circumnavigator-author Bill Morris is the author of Sun, Wind, & Water: The Essential Guide to the Energy-Efficient Cruising Boat and is a frequent contributor to Ocean Navigator.