Trouble In Baltimore – UPON FURTHER REVIEW
What's fair is fair.
A week ago I published a blog post titled “Trouble In Baltimore”. In it, I described how our boat was boarded by a couple of wannabee thieves in the middle of the night. I told how we heard them climbing around on the deck and how I shooshed them off the boat when I confronted them with a flagpole I brandished as a club. That's all true and is a cautionary story about mooring in urban waterfront environments. Now, though, I believe it is only fair to finish the narrative.
We were on the public finger docks in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore for an entire week, July 5 to July 12, and I am glad to report that we did not have a speck of trouble of any kind since that incident early on. Nothin'. Zero. Nada. Not only that, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to leave the boat unattended for twenty-four hours and nothing happened.
Let me put it this way: we felt perfectly safe and comfortable on the finger docks in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore after that initial incident. There was no gunfire, no riots, no trouble of any kind at all. We wish we had more time there so we could have really dig deep into the city and everything it had to offer.
Vandalism can happen at any un-gated marina to anybody's boat. It just so happened that it happened to us in Baltimore which had a rap sheet of trouble already. But I observed that Baltimore Police had a very sizable and robust presence all around us the entire time, 24 hours a day. I know for a fact in talking with the downtown dockmaster, they have security cameras that cover 100% of the waterfront, and these cameras are monitored 24 hours a day. There are certainly reasons not to avail oneself of the city docks in Baltimore, such as there not being any shoreside amenities like showers and laundry, but, with a grain of cautionary forethought, security does not necessarily need to be a hindrance to enjoying oneself there.
Now, I know there are a lot of readers that have already voiced their opinion that being down at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore is a bad idea and that the city is doomed to become America's next downtown hellhole. Whatever. Our experience ended up being a positive one.
So, instead of everyone bitching about how horrible the Inner Harbor is, I have a better idea. I want to use this as a forum to talk about boat security in general.
What are your thoughts on how to secure your boat better? I am quite certain we all could do a better job at it. Here are some that I have.
- Don't leave bicycles exposed on deck. That's an open invitation for someone to scamper on board. And you boaters that just leave them secured to your boat's grab rails with just a bungee cord are asking for trouble no matter where you are. And cover your bikes with a tarp. Don't advertise that you have them on deck. Or, if you can manage, put them on your highest deck.
- And speaking of bungee cords, if you do have to secure something valuable on your deck and insist on using bungee cords, use a lot of them. Part of your deterrence protocol should be to make theft as difficult and inconvenient as possible.
- Use eyed cables and padlocks on anything you want to keep. You can buy bike cables at any big-box store, but I make my own that are longer. Every hardware store has rolls of flexible, plastic-covered steel cable of several different gauges that you can have cut to any length you want. Crimps are also available. Padlocks are cheap.
- Put your covers on your windows so nobody can spy inside your boat. If they can't see something tempting to steal, they may not bother.
- Most thieves are not familiar with boat interiors and wouldn't know where to look for anything valuable even if they did get inside. If you have to leave your boat, stow valuables in hiding places.
- Lock your damn doors and hatches when you leave your boat. (I'm guilty of this one. I get sucked into the “safe marina” mindset.)
Let me sum up:
- By all means, you should make plans to visit the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. Whether you stay at the city docks or one of the nearby marinas is up to you. It's a fantastic place. You just have to be vigilant. And don't buy into the vision that the area is a wrecked, treacherous, unsafe shambles. It's not. It's bright, vibrant, and exciting. It's a downtown area, to be sure, but the city appears to be making a strong effort to lock it down and secure it.
- On board security is something you should practice everywhere no matter if you're in an urban environment such as Baltimore or at a small dock in Podunk.
One more morsel to think about – are we boaters any more exposed and vulnerable than when we are on the hook at some isolated anchorage? Billy-Bob and Floyd have a jon boat and a shotgun, and they know where all the getaway creeks and channels are. I think I'm more worried about them. The only other time we've had any trouble was when we were boarded at night AT AN ANCHORAGE at Lake Worth in Florida.