Friday, October 23, 2009

Lift It, Lock It or Lose It!

This is a saying that we learned from some cruising friend before we even left Canada. It pertains to one’s tender (dinghy). If you don’t lift it out of the water at night, or lock it to the boat, sooner or later, you are going to lose it.
This sounds all well and good but it is more difficult in practice in real life. To lift the dinghy at night onto the davits at the stern of the boat is a 15 minute physically intensive job that sometimes just seems too much after a day of sightseeing or provisioning.
The higher the population, the higher the risk. Nobody sees anything and there is a higher demand for stolen dinghies and lots of places to hide them,. We didn’t worry about the dinghy at night on small Pacific Islands where there is only 500 people on the island and everyone knows everyone including the one policeman so dinghy theft was rare. But on the larger islands, one has to worry about one’s dinghy.
When we arrived in Gibraltar, our friends on “Nomad Life” who had finished their circumnavigtation a month ago, warned us that there had been a couple dinghies stolen at night. In addition, they had lifted their dinghy onto it’s davits and awoke one night to some strange sounds and when they went outside, they saw a man, handing from their dinghy (which was hanging 3 feet off the water on its davits). They shooed him away.
Just after we arrived, our Swedish friends on “Seaqwest” had their dinghy stolen at night, the night before we were to head off to the Canary Islands together. They had a much better chance of replacing it in Gibraltar than in the islands so they had to postpone their passage for a few days until they dealt with the insurance paperwork and buying a new dinghy and dinghy motor.
The next day, we were too tired to lift our dinghy at night so we just locked it to a cleat at the stern of toboggan. At 4:00 am, we heard a knock on our hull. It was Greg another Canadian boat who had awoken to two men in wet suits trying to cut through the rope on their dinghy. The two men had swam away. Greg and Steve decided to go after them and try to get some photos of them. They left in Greg’s dinghy and went after the swimmers (although not too close because the bad guys had a knife). They took some photos but unfortunately, they did not turn out in the light of day.
The next day, when Steve and I tried to start our dinghy engine, nothing happened. We noticed that our “emergency stop cord” was missing. It is used to stop the engine in an emergency but also prevents the engine from starting when the cord is removed. We don’t know if the thieves stole it so that we could not give chase or if there is also a market for stolen “emergency stop cords”.
We could not believe the nerve of the thieves when we heard that 2 nights later, a dinghy was stolen from a British sailboat in the same anchorage.
Three days later, our friends on Seaqwest had a new dinghy and a new engine and we headed off together on a 5 day passage to the Canary Islands happy to leave behind the sticky fingers of the “Dinghy Bandits of Gibraltar”.

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