Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Personal Insurance > Properly Protecting Watercraft Through Monitoring & Tracking

Personal Lines How to Properly Protect Watercraft from TheftThe National Insurance Crime Bureau recently released its 2019 Watercraft Theft Report indicating Florida as the number one state for watercraft theft. With most thefts in 2019 occurring during the months of June (517) and July (543), now is the time to make sure you are practicing smart watercraft theft protection.

In a previous article, we offered suggestions for properly securing your watercraft, both in and out of the water. However, in addition to this, monitoring and tracking are additional measures to properly protect your vessel. In a world where you can do just about anything on the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can also keep a close eye on your boat from the comfort of home. In fact, not only are there a plethora of watercraft monitoring options available, but most go much further than simply telling you where your boat is.

At its simplest, a monitor is just a GPS tracker that relays your boat’s position to a computer, tablet, or smartphone via a dedicated app. You can also pre-set a specific boundary—so-called geo-fencing—in which case it will warn you if your boat ever strays too far, much like an anchor alarm. Most GPS units raise an alarm via local cellphone network and therefore only function in areas with reasonable coverage; even with a booster aboard, your range will be just a few miles. If you’re sailing off the beaten track, a more foolproof approach is to employ a monitor with satellite capabilities. In addition to monitoring the position of a watercraft, additional concerns like whether the bilge is filling up with water; the shore-power connection hasn’t tripped; or thieves haven’t helped themselves to high-end electronics are constant.

With respect to water ingress, nearly all monitoring units on the market support a simple on-off bilge level alarm that warns you if the boat begins filling up. Most also allow you to connect a bilge pump to a relay in order to switch it on remotely. Some will even monitor overall bilge pump activity for any unusual patterns. Many systems can also detect a loss of shore power, which is vital for ensuring your batteries stay in good shape at the dock. In terms of intruder detection, at its simplest, this will typically consist of a magnetic relay that is tripped when someone opens a door, triggering an alarm. Going up a step or two in terms of sophistication, pressure mats and even infrared laser entry detection capability are available as part of more sophisticated systems.

Of course, for those in search of the ultimate in remote security, there is remote video, giving you eyes on whatever may have triggered an alarm. Some systems not only include a built-in camera, but also give you the ability to add on dedicated external camera units as well. Many systems are capable of transmitting video directly to your cellphone or computer and even allow you to direct the cameras.

Of course, if the worst should happen and your boat or equipment is stolen and not recovered, it pays to have comprehensive insurance in place. Gulfshore Insurance offers exceptional, all-risk insurance coverage for the spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats, including luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels and select charter vessels. For more information on how to protect yourself, contact one of our trusted advisors today.