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There are Bums even in Paradise

One of the many things that amaze me about The Lake is the different ways people enjoy it. There seems no end to the diversity of toys brought for fun and excitement; parasailing, wind surfing, canoes, kayaks, and all kinds of power and sailboats. Most of these expensive toys come with trailers and are ready for the taking. Unfortunately here as with everywhere else we have bums in paradise. Boats are not generally constructed with security in mind. Pleasure boats of all sizes, small outboard motors, radios, compasses, binoculars, and other boating gear are stolen every year. A few simple measures and some forethought would have kept the theft from happening. Some of these things you should do at home. Others apply to the launch site.

Permanently mark your Hull Identification Number (HIN) at some hidden location on your boat. If your boat was built after the 1970s it is already marked on the upper right hand corner of the transom and probably in another hidden location. These numbers can be defaced or altered. If you put the HIN where only you know where it is, you can identify your boat if it is stolen and recovered. Keep an up-to-date inventory of your boating and fishing equipment. This helps you document your loss. Record the name of the equipment, its description, and serial number. Color photographs help identify your equipment and document its condition and that of your boat. Make sure your insurance covers theft of your boat and equipment. Homeownerís policies may not provide adequate coverage of marine equipment.

At the launch site keep your valuables out of sight, but donít put them in the glove compartment. Donít leave anything in bags or cartons inside the car. A thief may damage your car to inspect them. Put your gear in the trunk and lock it and the car. It is not difficult to force entry into a carís trunk, but few thieves will do it just on the chance of finding something of value. If you plan to be on The Lake after dark leave your car in a well lighted area. This enhances personal safety and reduces thief. Use a trailer hitch lock to secure your trailer to your car. If you donít lock your trailer to your car, it may disappear at the launch site. Propellers are expensive items and are often stolen. Inexpensive locks are available to keep them from being removed from your boat. Donít forget to remove the lock before you launch your boat.

At home keep your boat and trailers locked, but donít be lulled into a false sense of security. Professional crooks carry coupler devices that can be quickly attached to your trailer. If possible, store your boat in the backyard or in a garage so it wonít be seen by passers-by. If you have to store it in a driveway, donít leave the hitch facing the street. If you plan to remove your propeller, do it now. You should remove it every few months, any way to grease the shaft with a with a high-grade marine type grease. This keeps the prop from freezing to the shaft. If you do remove it, donít forget to put it back on before you go boating the next time. Your boat will run a lot better with it attached. Remove all valuable portable equipment from your boat. Lock it in a safe place. Donít forget to put it back aboard when you next take your boat out. If you have a small outboard motor, remove it from the boat when not in use. This will protect it from the weather as well as from thieves. If you donít remove it, fasten it with a motor lock across its clamps or a casehardened chain securely fastened to the boat. On larger, less portable, permanently mounted outboards use special transom retainer bolts. These can be removed only with special sockets.

If you keep your boat at a dock or on a mooring buoy, secure it with a casehardened chain and lock. Remove portable fuel tanks and a vital engine part such as a distributor rotor. A hidden switch in the electrical system between the motor and the ignition switch can be a useful deterrent.

You can join Vessel Assist Association of America (1-800-367-8222). Formed to discourage boat theft and encourage involvement, the VAAA offers rewards for any information that leads to an arrest and conviction of anyone stealing or vandalizing a memberís vessel

The Lake is an exceptional beautiful place, but people are the same no matter where you go


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