You don’t have to outrun the bear
There’s a saying that basically amounts to, when out hiking with friends and you happen upon a bear, you needn’t outrun the animal. You instead need only to outrun the slowest of your friends.
The same logic can be applied to securing your dinghy. It’s obvious that with enough time and energy anything can be stolen. The trick in this case is to make it a lot more work for a “t’ief” to steal your dinghy as opposed to the one beside it.
At some point in the distant past, prior to our leaving the US, I believe I wrote about locking up the dinghy. One commenter said that we should be using 3/8″ stainless steel chain for the job. I’m positive that I laughed at that, dismissing the recommendation as being super overkill. Isn’t it ironic that that is exactly what we are now using?
After our near dinghy theft in St. Lucia we had one of our friends here in Grenada on the job, trying to source us a length of large-diameter stainless chain. For those who have never shopped for this stuff, it is EXPENSIVE! Down here it sells in the range of $15.00 US per FOOT, a price we definitely wouldn’t pay. In spite of that, our friend Ken was somehow able to find us a 12′ length for only $30.00 EC (about $12.00 US). That was an incredible deal and we were very appreciative for his help. Ken also explained how they use a Kryptonite lock to secure the large chain to the dock and our friend Donna was nice enough to bring us one back from the US in her bag of goodies. Of course, it couldn’t be quite so easy as to simply buy a lock. No, the lock won’t actually fit through the links of the chain. To allow for that, we needed a shackle and one that was modified in such a way that it could not be removed.
The first step in the process was to tightly screw the shackle onto the chain using Red Loctite on the threads. This threadlocker creates a “permanent” bond once it sets. Step two was to cut the end of the shackle off. This could have been done with a hacksaw but I wasn’t into sweating that much. I opted instead to use our handy Dremel tool (The Dremel was a going-away gift given to us by our friend Jamie. It is still one of the most useful gifts we were given — every boater needs a Dremel tool). This process was still a bit time consuming but it worked, and it only required about 4-5 cutting blades to complete the job. The final step was to take a mallet and peen the opposite end of the pin a bit so that there is no way it could ever be unscrewed. All completed, this shackle ain’t coming off without a lot of work!
The total invested in this project was under a hundred bucks, but only because we got a deal on the chain. Is it overkill? Without a doubt, but losing the dinghy is a nightmare that we’d really prefer not to experience. I’m pretty sure that now the bear, or rather thieves, will focus on the easier-to-acquire meals instead of us.
The shackle, secured on our transom with a handy adjustable vise, ready for cutting.
I love our Dremel tool!
We do not typically lock the dinghy to the boat like this but we do raise it onto the davits every night.
I posted this pic just to illustrate how it all comes together.