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This article, by Dennis Kissman, was published in Marina Dock Age –  September/October 2015

Thanks to the media we are bombarded daily with every catastrophic or horrific incident that takes place anywhere on the earth in real time.  Twenty plus years ago when we heard of such things we took them at face value.  Today there is an underlying implication that all of these incidents are tied somehow to terrorism.  Unfortunately this is the world we live in so the question is; how can marinas best cope with this situation?

Now before you say my marina is not in or near a commercial port or waterway but at some inland reservoir and I don’t have a problem with terrorism, I agree with you to some extent but to dismiss the need for security completely would be a mistake.  Think of it this way, terrorism may not be your issue but providing a safe environment for your customer is an issue that should be addressed.

Marinas are considered part of the recreation industry and recreation is defined as: an activity or pastime that promotes refreshment of health or spirits by relaxation and enjoyment.  With that image in our mind as to what recreation should be, when you go to a marina do you want it to look like you have just entered a highly secured military base?  I think your answer would be an emphatic no.  Now the challenge is for you as a marina owner; how do you balance a legitimate need to have your marina secure yet have your boating customer feel relaxed and safe when he or she is at your marina.  Your customer would also want to know that when they leave the marina and their boat is in your care, custody and control that next time they come to your marina their boat is just as they left it.

There are several ways that you can make your customer feel safe and secure without being obvious. Here are a few tips that we have learned through the years mainly observing what some marina owners have done.

Perimeter security is the first line of defense to keep someone off your property or channel how people enter or exit your marina.  Fencing with a top of barbed or razor wire is the best but not attractive.  Camouflage the fence with vegetation on both sides and if not possible at least on the inside of the marina.  Select vegetation that is dense and attached to the fence such as and ivy.  A hedge also is good but the trunk or branches that could traverse the hedge be of a size that would not support a person.

If your marina is in a basin where access to the marina is by a channel or limited in some manner.  When a boat arrives or leaves the marina at night it should trigger sensor that turns on a powerful light that shines across the entire water entrance of the marina but not on boats berthed in the marina.  The light needs to be bright enough to reflect off the boat entering or leaving.  Associated with triggering the light should be a camera that records the boat’s movement.

Security cameras have become popular for recording what is going on around your marina but with that comes an ongoing cost if it is to be an active system rather than a passive one.  If you are not monitoring what is going on in real time at your marina you will not know when a problem occurs until someone reports a problem to you.  For example, a customer comes to you and says he is missing some items off his boat.  That is all well and good but this was the first time that customer came to the marina and his boat in two months.  Now the question is when did the incident occur?  You start to review the recordings going back from the current date.  Your system recycles the recordings every four weeks.  You look back through four weeks of recordings which is no easy task to begin with and nothing.  Whatever happened and recorded had been recorded over and lost.

Cameras may be a deterrent if they are in plain sight but that could also be a negative to some of your customers.  We know that some boats are used for more than just boating, enough said?  This is also the reason it is not a good idea to have real time surveillance cameras that can be viewed by anyone on your website.

Not that many years ago, the feeling was if you restricted access to the docks that was all that was needed.  The feeling was if you controlled who could go through the gate, which often times looked like a prison entrance with barbed wire surrounding it, that was sufficient.  If you rely on this as your security, how many times have you found the gates tied open or tape used to prevent the latch on the gate from locking?  I would venture to say that it is a daily occurrence at some gate in your marina.  I did see at one marina where they hooked up an alarm and flashing light with a timer on it and if the gate was left open for any length of time the alarm sounded and the light flashed.  This solved part of the problem but did nothing to prevent someone entering the dock if the latch had been prevented from locking.  At lease the gate was not visibly open which did help to some extent.

In the last few years technology that was developed for non security applications is making its way into the security industry.  As more and more of this technology is adapted for security purposes the price is getting more affordable.  An example of this is the sensors that were originally developed to be put in the pavement at intersections to trigger a traffic light to change has evolved into a perimeter fencing application where a similar type of sensor is buried and anytime there is a movement over the sensor it is recorded.  It is worth checking out to see some of these new applications and what is applicable to your security needs.  No matter what you do regarding security your goal should be that when your customer comes to the property they feel safe without your security measures being in their face.

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