Just months ago I closed my GPS tracking Business; GALTRAC was created out of need and the recognition of opportunity. With the rapid expansion and integration of OEM loss prevention and tracking applications, small white label operations like GALTRAC could no longer remain competitive with industry majors.

Today Mercury Marine and Yamaha offer integrated loss prevention and tracking systems that you can order as an OEM option to be installed just like you would on your car. You can disable ignition, create a virtual geo-fence, and set other alarms. You can literally be having morning coffee in Prague and your boat can call and alert you to an unauthorized movement to which you can respond by tracking the boats movements and then disabling the ignition as well as alerting the police.

Several other independent companies offer tracking and monitoring options for your boat, hauler, and trailer. These systems can also signal low battery voltage and detect smoke or water intrusion.

6,070 watercraft were reported stolen in the United States in 2011, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. That number reflects an 8 percent decline from 6,663 thefts in 2010 and a 19 percent drop since 2009 (7,485 thefts). These are thefts reported to the National Crime Information Center and do not include unreported thefts, records without a hull identification number, or theft of parts and gear.

Florida, California, and Texas are the States with the highest rates. Florida’s theft rate climbed through this past decade to a peak of 1,913 in 2009 but has dropped in the past few years. Miami far exceeds other Florida cities, followed by Fort Lauderdale, Marathon and Tampa. The Keys and South West regions of Florida remain a high target area for high powered center consoles used by smugglers and have complicated the ability to obtain proper insurance for boat owners in these regions.

You can now make trouble for potential thieves if you disable the ignition system. Yamaha and Mercury have designed key-fob-activated controls for many outboard models and MerCruiser sterndrives. Boaters simply push a button or insert a special key to immobilize the engines. When Powerboat Nation was on hand for the commissioning of the new SV42 MTI I spoke to Mercury Racings Rick Mackie about the new Theft Deterrent System, that had been installed on the boat. Integrated with the New Vessel View 7, Rick told me the Theft Deterrent System Project leaders were excited about the installation and were having fun tracking us as we ran around Miami and were able to see us at the owner’s home.

Yamaha’s Y-COP links the wireless key fobs to an electronic control module that’s plugged into the engine’s instrument harness. The signal then passes to the engine-control module through the wiring. Yamaha says the system also recognizes tampering and locks the engine into a low rpm mode. Prices start at $750 for the system. Mercury’s Theft Deterrent System starts at $685, the boater inserts the blade of a fob into a docking station at the helm to power the vessel. If the fob is not used, the engines will start but operate only at slow speed. A red LED light blinks when the system
is armed, similar to a vehicle anti-theft device.

The Mercury system also has a premium upgrade for TDS with Connected Vessel, a satellite-based boat-tracking system that lets the owner know via e-mail or text message when the vessel moves out of a preset perimeter. The system also monitors battery strength and engine functions, and can relay that information to your dealer. The premium version costs $4,135 with a monthly data fee of $42.50.

Another independent company from Texas is Encompass Telematics, who offers their GeoTab product, This option allows boat owners to install a simple aftermarket system into their boats and is compatible with any manufacturer or operating system. The GeoTab product also offers a tire pressure monitor for your boat trailer so you can prevent blowouts and get better fuel economy by monitoring your trailer tire pressure while rolling down the road.

Whether you keep your boat in the water, at a storage site, or at your home on a trailer the benefits of a GPS tracking system far outweigh the alternatives and the technology can be fun. Some insurance programs require a GPS tracking system for certain boats in high risk areas such as Miami.