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The other day I showed how we used a length of chain to secure our dinghy to a bollard at the fisherman’s dock in Roseau. Some might have felt that that was a bit of overkill and in fact, from time to time, even we do ourselves. In spite of that, we religiously abide by the mantra of security conscious cruisers: lock it or lose it. Sadly, in many cases, it’s a necessity.

Late last night – or more accurately, early this morning, after a bit of socializing on shore with our friends from Earthling who just arrived here in Martinique yesterday, we struck up a conversation with a couple of cruisers who were sitting by themselves on the dingy dock. The reason they were sitting there instead of sleeping soundly on their boat was that their dinghy had just been stolen. Witnesses let them know that, shortly before their return to the dock, 3 men just jumped in their dinghy and took off. Yes, they shared that they had failed to lock it.

Sadly, locking the dinghy to the dock does not always prevent theft. Our friends Andy and Sharon from m/v Finally Fun recently had their locked dinghy stolen while they were on shore in Vieques. The thieves simply cut their cable and made off with their expensive RIB.

In both of the above cases, the parties who were robbed were left stranded on shore, dependent upon other cruisers to get them back to their boat, and later, to ferry them around until their dinghy is either returned (never happens) or replaced. The dinghy is the “family car” of the cruiser and in many cases, is as costly to replace as a decent used car!

We feel bad for Andy and Sharon, and the couple who we spoke with last evening. I believe both of them were insured and will ultimately, if they have not already done so, be able to recoup the money it takes to replace their transport. Many others would not be so fortunate.

This situation is a bit timely in that we were just discussing with our friends last evening about our planned ports of call between here and Grenada. While bad things can happen anywhere, a few spots have unfortunately developed a bad reputation for petty theft, or worse. While we prefer to make our own judgements about a place instead of relying upon hearsay through the “coconut telegraph,” we have only so much time and there are plenty of spots to visit. This leaves areas where theft is a well-known problem off our travel itinerary.


  1. We were told (never actually saw it) that some have cut a hole in the bottom of their RIB and inserted a watertight deck plate. It’s screwed in high enough that when nobody is in it it’s above the waterline. When they get to shore, the get out of the dink, remove the plate, put their locking cable through the hole and secure to the dock, piling, what have you. Somebody tries to steal it, they at least get their feet wet. May deter some.

    Our method is to just have the ugliest dinghy at the dinghy dock. The thieves will always go for the nicer ones.

    • IMO, the weak link is always the chain/cable (no pun intended) and/or the lock.

      As for ugly, you may be right. I know of several people who have “uglified” their engines and dinghies.

  2. Shouldn’t there be a way to lock the engine of a dinghy as well as lock it to the shore? Yes, it wouldn’t stop anyone from towing it if they stole it, but it would at least make it impossible to “jump in it and run.” Seems like there should be a way to inconspicuously disable a small motor that has no actual lock.

  3. Sadly, there have been repeated references to thieving in Vieques recently. It is said that it is done to order. Officialdom apparently don’t care.


  4. Lots of patches and spilled paint…

  5. The police told us (as well as other locals) that the dingy is not what they are after, it’s the motor. We were told our dink was probably trashed. If you can remove the fuel line or take off the spark plug wire, anything to delay the engine starting. The thieves want to hit and run, not diagnose an engine that has trouble starting. Many locks can be sprang open with a hammer blow. We had our dink chained and locked,….. found the lock.

    • Hey Andy. Good advice. I agree the locks are typically the weak link.

    • It seems silly, but I would either take the spark plug wire with me ( Usually easy to replace even in the dark with practice) or a little more cumbersome would be to take the spark plug. I’d rather look like an idiot carrying a ratchet and socket with me than looking for my ride home.

  6. Hey hey! Long time, no postie.
    Timely post today as I just dropped our dinghy lock overboard in Little Lameshur Bay, St. Johns last week. Rigged something new with some spare chain and a new padlock.
    Seems to me that even with insurance, if you are victim of dinghy theft in some places it can be nearly impossible to acquire a replacement. Have you seen evidence of this along the way?
    Hope to catch you guys soon. K.

    • Hey Kirk. We have not heard first hand accounts of people having their tender stolen and then not being able to replace it, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened. Even if you are in a place with a chandlery, the chance of them having what you want in stock is unlikely. And you’d be over a barrel with respect to price. So, keep that dinghy of yours locked up!

  7. Unfortunately that applies to land yachts too. I’ve mistakenly forgotten to hit the lock button on the remote only to find the things that were inside last night, gone. Thieves are opportunistic cowards. They take what is not theirs, the easiest way possible. Makes me have very un-Christian thought about them….

  8. My late father-in-law used to play golf for a week or two in Spain in the 90’s. He told that a new mayor revived Puerto Banus then. Even not a billionaire it was nice to sip a “naranja” at the bar and watch the super yachts at dock.

    There was a time in Marbella, when they wanted to clean up the place of criminals. Happened later that Gil ended up in prison himself for organising money for Atletico.

    “In 1991, the builder and president of Atlético Madrid, Jesús Gil y Gil was elected by a wide majority as mayor of Marbella for his own party, the Independent Liberal Group (GIL in Spanish), having promised to fight petty crime and the declining prestige associated with the region. ”

  9. Hey Mike … We have also seen a few dinks stolen during our sailing adventure. What we have been doing is we remove the plug wires and using our on board plug wrench we take one of the two spark plugs with us ashore. Even if they defeat our cable or lock, they’ll never get it started. So far, I’ve never heard of a thief carrying spare plugs. Time to remove the plug and replace the cowling is about 2-3 minute each way. Time to report and replace a dink is too much.

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