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Hoisting Your Dinghy No Longer Enough?

"On November 12, we had our dinghy — with outboard motor attached — stolen while at anchor at Isla de Piedra outside of Mazatlan," report John Gratton and Linda Hill of the San Francisco-based Hans Christian 33 Nakia. "The theft occurred at 12:30 a.m. local time. The dinghy was a grey Achilles with a newly painted white floor. The outboard was a 9.8-hp Tohatsu two-stroke.

"The method of theft was unusual. Our dinghy was raised high out of the water on a halyard, with the outboard mounted on the transom. The outboard was locked to the dinghy, and cabled and locked to Nakia with 3/16-inch lifeline wire. The thieves placed their panga beneath the raised dinghy, cut the bridle suspending the dinghy, then cut the cable. I was woken up by the sound of the cable pulling tight on Nakia, and was on deck in time to see the thieves cut the cable and race away in their panga.

"Linda and I have been in Mexico since ’04, and this is the first time we’ve ever had anything stolen from Nakia, but the theft is disappointing. Normally our motor would have been mounted and chained to the stern pulpit, but just after sunset a SeaDoo was having trouble with its engine, so I put the motor on the dinghy and went to see if I could help. Rather than put the outboard back on the rail and chain it down, I just raised the dinghy with a halyard and used the cable to secure it — which is nicer on the teak cap rail than the chain.

"There was a time when we didn’t even bother with a cable. I reported the theft to the Port Captain via VHF 16 and filed an ‘Aviso’. The authorities are, understandably, apathetic to the theft, as there are greater law enforcement issues in Mexico.

"Finally, a warning. If you think that you will hear such dinghy thieves, you are right. But they will probably already have your dinghy, and they will be committed to the theft before you hear them. I’m convinced that thieves can case your boat and make a go or no-go decision on the theft in complete silence. So make sure to secure your dinghy in such a crazy way that it’s clearly impossible to touch without making noise — and by clearly, we mean clear to anyone seeing it from 20 feet away in the middle of the night."

For the sake of others, if your dinghy is stolen in Mexico, please let us at Latitude know so we can alert others to hot spots and dinghy theft techniques. Historically, dinghy theft has not been a big problem in Mexico. Let’s work together to try and keep it that way.


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