Big Brother is watching you

Motor and sailing yachts disappear without a trace worldwide every year and financial loss amounting to many millions for insurance companies.

But not is the economic damage enormous, no amount of insurance can replace the intangible value of their boat  for many owners. In order to protect their beloved treasure many yacht owners resort to installing modern tracking systems.

Many manufacturers offer efficient tracking and monitoring equipment. The predominate difference lies in the transmission of the geographical position data. The systems are either based on mobile communication (GSM) or on satellite (GPS) technology. GSM equipment is comparatively economical at a price of around €500, but has only a limited coverage.  If the "tracked" boat is further than 15 km away from the coast and thus from a mobile communication station, the geographical data can no longer be received. The satellite-based equipment, which ensures worldwide coverage, is significantly more effictive in terms of range; however, it costs between €800 and €1000 depending on the manufacturer. 

Regardless of whether it is GSM or GPS the owner is usually able to view the geographical data of his yacht via a web portal with personal access data. The operation is configured according to individual needs. For example, the owner determines the intervals, at which the location is to be retrieved and its location radius. Private individuals usually determine the current location. Charter operators, on the other hand, often enter a certain area, which the vessel is not supposed to leave. If the vessel moves outside of the stipulated area, the owner receives an alarm via SMS.

Due to the increased nature of risk there are areas where yacht insurance companies may demand the installation of tracking systems or the insurance cover will be void. The Black Sea is such an example: If the owner reports his yacht stolen in this area and cannot produce appropriate location data, he may not get a cent from his insurers.

Pantaenius has had positive experiences with many tracking systems and has been able to successfully locate and retrieve stolen vessels. Holger Flindt, Manager of the Pantaenius Loss Division has the following tips: "When selecting suitable equipment the owner should ensure that it can be operated completely independent of any energy source for at least one month, in order to transmit the location at any time. Today there are systems which operate with internal batteries for up to one year." The equipment would naturally have to be installed at a secret location on board, because the best tracking system is useless if the thieves can just dismantle it and throw it overboard - or, even better, hide it in the transom seat of the neighbouring boat!