Securing your boat from intruders
Anyone have stainless steel (SS) security bars or mesh put on their companionway and/or hatches which allows good ventilation? Just stopped by a stainless steel fabrication shop in San Diego and got sticker shock, not to mention worried about the mesh on the hatches ruining the look of our salon. Of course, we want the hatches to still be readily available as an escape in case of fire or sinking. I didn't like the idea of "hair (spring) clips" through holes in the ends of the bolts as they can be stiff and difficult to get out, not to mention looking rather unfinished.
All ideas entertained!
We had SS security bars made of 1/4" rods for our V-berth and aft cabin hatches prior to leaving Florida for Trinidad back in 2004. They worked so well that we had two more made in Trini for our pilothouse salon hatches. Each set is secured to the hatch frame with "omega " hardware and 3 individual padlocks, two of these act as a hinge and the 3rd on the opposite, acts as a potential release for opening in an emergency. The beauty of this arrangement allow breeze to get in but you feel secure throughout the Caribbean, including Venezuela. Well worth the investment!
I had one sliding ss bar installed inside each hatch and secured into the inside wood frame. The slide is locked with a bar shaped pad lock that looks nice too. The key for each hatch is kept in the hand hold nearest to the applicable hatch yet far from the reach of anyone outside the hatch . In the companionway I had a thick solid one piece plexiglass companionway door made that has evenly spaced holes in it about the size of a shotgun barrel.. I secure it with a toggle bolt between the companionway door and the related sliding companionway cover.. I can see everything going on in the cockpit without risking exposure to any dangers and the ventilation is excellent. I had the bars made in Curacao by Eric of Diamond welding and the door made in Miami. I lubricate and test everything to make sure we can escape quickly if or when needed and can sleep with my hatches open; Unfortunately the reality for those of us who actually sail from place to place is that security has become a concern. Planning for potential problems has and continues to make my experience both relaxing and much safer.
We have installed 1/4" stainless steel bars in the 1" wood framed screen that slides into our aft companionway hatch. This allows ventilation in our aft cabin where we sleep. The screens slide into a fibreglass channel and the bars extend into the channel so they can't be kicked in. Once the top of the hatch is pulled closed we secure it with a simple wood bar that easily slides into wooden notches I screwed in under the hatch. It is simple, cheap and easily inserted and removed. We now know that no one can enter the boat without our having a lot of time to react. I bought the stainless steel rod in Trinidad, but I don't remember the cost ($50.00 ?) I only installed it in the aft cabin to see how it worked. I plan to repeat the procedure on the forward companion way hatch, but other projects have taken precedence. I am still pondering how to secure similarly barred screens for our overhead hatches. Our screens there are secured with simple thumb screws which could easily be kicked in. That will require a much more extensive refit to be strong and look good.
I have purchased an inexpensive wireless alert to tell me if anyone comes into the cockpit. The system consists of a battery-operated infrared detector mounted in the cockpit, and a battery-operated alarm mounted on the bulkhead of the master stateroom. The detector is mounted on the frame of the cockpit door so as to remain silent for items outside the cockpit ...no alarm for rocking boat, etc. It will go off if something comes over the cockpit coaming.
Pros and Cons of Bars On Hatches: http://commutercruiser.com/pros-and-cons-of-bars-on-your-hatches/
Details of Bars on Hatches: http://commutercruiser.com/hatch-safety-bar-details/