Onboard Security Systems for Sport Fishers

New systems offer peace of mind for owners and captains
Aerial top-down view of a sport-fishing boat cruising across the open water.
A modern sport-fisher can be a tempting target for thieves. A good security system can help thwart those efforts. Courtesy Out Your Front Door

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Boat ownership and management is a big responsibility, whether you’re an owner-operator or professional captain. There are always those nagging thoughts: Bilge pumps can fail or be overwhelmed, so sinking is always a concern. What if the batteries drain down too low for whatever reason while you are away? Theft is a major issue. What about fire? Fortunately, there are some great products available to help keep track of all this.

Security Options

There are several companies that offer total alarm systems, which include door contacts, motion sensors, cameras and infrared beams to provide security for your vessel, most of which include an ear-splitting 125 dB(A) or more siren. In early 2009, the name Paradox Marine started being mentioned with ­security alarms and vessel tracking for the marine industry. The company has since grown and changed its name in September 2010 to GOST, or Global Ocean Security Technologies. It even played off the new company acronym with the names of a few new products, such as its Apparition alarm package.

Ever hear an alarm going off at a marina late at night and think, What a nuisance? Well, if it was your boat’s alarm, you would certainly have a different perspective. You would take comfort in knowing you had a loud alarm because many thefts occur after dark or in low-visibility conditions such as bad weather.

But theft is not the only reason for an alarm system. Many modern security ­systems allow you to remotely monitor the vessel and designate emergency contacts for texts or other notifications from the alarm system when it is activated. Below are some of the basic security features available.

High-water alarm: This specifically monitors a bilge high-water sensor; when the circuit activates it, the system ­triggers an alarm.

Low-voltage alarm: This is designed to monitor the boat’s DC or AC voltage, depending upon which sensor is installed, and will trigger an alarm when the voltage varies from preset parameters.
Security alarm: These include motion sensors, door contacts, infrared beams, pressure pads and much more.

Video surveillance: This option gives the owner or crew the ­ability to look at live, high-resolution camera images from your boat remotely on nearly any device.

Satellite vessel tracking: This is one of the more advanced packages, which uses Inmarsat’s constellation of geostationary satellites. The Nav Tracker by GOST provides each owner with the ability to monitor their vessel’s location from cellphone, tablet or computer in case of a theft, for example. It allows the owner to set a perimeter alarm around their vessel; if the vessel travels beyond this boundary without the owner electronically approving the movement, the alarm activates. It will send GPS updates to the owner for recovery purposes, or even during active pursuits by law enforcement.

Read Next: Learn more about staying connected with these choices for onboard internet access.

New Gear on the Market

Today there is a new entry into the ­security and vessel-tracking segment of the ­market from Marine Guardian. It offers a ­similar list of products such as beam sensors, bilge alarms, and monitoring services in its product line, plus it is all owned and produced in the United States. Marine Guardian offers three tiers of systems, which include its TMG Tracker, TMG 1.0 and TMG 2.0, respectively. The TMG Tracker is entry-level but is sufficient to qualify for insurance discount purposes. TMG’s alarm activates as soon as there is movement of the vessel rather than using geofencing, which can have a large ­minimum range before alarm activation.

Marine Guardian offers both cellular and satellite GPS tracking as well because it is also an Iridium satellite-network ­partner. I liken its product line to when you choose to purchase a new car rather than an older one: The general features might all be the same, but some of the technology on the ­new model is simply too good to pass up. Examples include the Marine Guardian app for Android and iPhone, as well as desktop applications, which allow the owner to monitor alarm functions remotely as well as control the operation of things such as bilge pumps directly through the app.

As security technology continues to improve, we’ll continue to see more use of remote monitoring and activation via mobile apps and other means, all of which will help us keep our vessels more secure than ever before. That peace of mind is priceless in today’s world.

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