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Tracking systems: Big brother is watching you

Every year, around the world, stolen motor and sailing yachts disappear without a trace. This leads to more than just significant financial loss. For many owners, no insurance payout can compensate for the sentimental value of their yacht. Many recommend owners use modern tracking systems to protect their beloved treasures.

High-performance devices can be bought from a number of manufacturers. The basic choice is between active and passive trackers. It is more difficult for 'GSM finders' to find and disrupt passive trackers than active trackers, which continuously send/receive information. The two also differ in the way location data is transmitted. The systems are based either on mobile (GSM) or on satellite (e.g. Inmarsat) technology.

Simple GSM devices are comparatively cheap, but only have a limited coverage range. If the tracked boat is more than 15 kilometres away from the coast and so from a mobile station, the location can no longer be detected. Both GSM and satellite systems generally allow yacht owners to view the location data of their yacht on a web portal using personal access details. The system can be configured to suit your own requirements. For example, you can set how frequently your location should be retrieved. You can also specify the location radius. If the yacht moves outside of the specified area, the owner will receive an alarm message via SMS or email.

Technology is now so well developed that advanced tracking systems can also perform other useful tasks. These models have sensors for smoke and fire alarms, as well as motion sensors. Some manufacturers also offer combined GSM/GPS devices that automatically switch from GPS to GMS detection whenever they find the appropriate signal, in order to save energy.

Our Pantaenius claims department has already had several positive experiences with tracking systems, successfully locating and reclaiming stolen yachts. When choosing a suitable device, you should ensure it can work for at least a few months without an external power source, so that it is able to transmit location data at any time. There are now systems available that can operate for several years with an internal battery. Of course, the device should also be placed in a hidden location on board the ship. Even the best tracking system is useless if the thieves are able to simply disable it and throw it overboard, or even worse, hide it in the storage locker on the next door boat.

AT A GLANCE

• Select either a mobile or satellite tracker depending on the cruising area

• Look for powerful energy sources for long-term operation when purchasing

• Select a hidden place for your tracking system that is not easily accessible

• Set sensible tracking configurations

• Select a tracking system that has useful additional sensors

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