Panbo

GOST, the serious boat security guys

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 13, 2012
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It doesn't matter that the Paradox Marine I've enjoyed visiting at past shows has changed its name to GOST (for Global Ocean Security Technology); I bet they'll still be showing off some interesting new tech in Miami this week. And probably more important is how knowledgeable and sophisticated GOST has become about the nuances of marine security over the years. Experience is a great teacher, and GOST's has been accelerated because its home turf of South Florida has endured a plague of boat bandits who are pretty knowledgeable themselves. Can you spot the telltale professionalism being exhibited on the Contender above as it blasts toward Cuba, probably for a load of drugs, or with a load of cash, or both?...

As I understand it, the camera that took that top photo was right next to, or attached to, a high-power sniper rifle on a USCG helicopter. And while the Coasties knew very well that the boat was stolen -- and had even found it thanks to the GOST tracking system carefully hidden on board -- they're still not allowed to shoot the bad guys. But what they can do sometimes is to shoot the outboards and thus disable the boat until a cutter makes the scene. That's why there's a guy -- probably the newest bandito -- back there uncomfortably close to the big twin Yamahas. The theory he's banking on is that the sniper won't blow holes in the outboards for fear of blowing a hole in him.
  In fact, that fine ocean-going center console may have successfully completed a round trip and then been abandoned in the Bahamas or Keys like many others. It might have even been recovered, but will it ever be the same? That's why GOST has focused on theft prevention lately. Thus they've developed the Immobilizer that I tested with success on my 14-foot power catamaran (now dubbed L'il Gizmo and still in the fleet, though underutilized). When activated by wireless fob, It simply prevents high current from starting an engine -- while passing through enough power to run stuff like stereos -- and it sets off a loud alarm if someone tries. The Immobilizer usually sells for about $350 but right now is on Amazon for a surprising $121...

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For bigger boats there's something called the GOST Cloak, which I saw demoed in Fort Lauderdale. Just the fact that someone let GOST president Jay Keenan use their nearby office was an indication of how harmless the system is for yacht interiors. It didn't leave any residue on my camera either, even though I kept shooting until I could hardly see my hand in front of my face...

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But we made it a double demo by getting a FLIR guy to bring along a First Mate handheld thermal camera, and sure enough that saw right through the Cloak. I don't know if any boat burglars are yet equipped with thermal, but I'll bet GOST has new ways to thwart them. 
   I'm headed to Miami later today with all sorts of demos lined up, even a tour of the USCG's SAR center, and stay tuned for some major new product releases starting tomorrow. Plus one never knows when something as impromptu as this tropical fog out might happen. 

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Comments

Thanks for the great tip on the amazon sale. We often leave our dinghy for long periods unattended in places where things tend to find new homes!

Don

Posted by: Don Joyce at February 13, 2012 2:46 PM | Reply

Unless your battery is in a locked compartment, the Immobilizer looks rather trivial to defeat. Just listen for the distinctive alarm and then jump past the whole unit! I think you might do better by simply taking out the emergency driver-overboard stop lanyard and/or mounting a concealed switch somewhere.


Posted by: Steve at February 13, 2012 5:21 PM | Reply

Steve, it's not obvious in the photos but the Immobilizer uses an unusual bolt to secure the battery connection and there's a hard plastic shield involved so you can't get at the positive lug easily. I'm not saying that the system can't be defeated but it's not as easy it looks.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Steve at February 13, 2012 6:03 PM | Reply

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