Hands down, the question every surfer dreads asking. Yet we still leave our boards stacked on top of our cars secured by nothing more than a couple inches of nylon strapping while we’re lollygagging at the local 7-11 for that post session Big Gulp. All a thief needs is the cheapest imitation Swiss Army knife to be a couple boards richer. And even if he (or she!) couldn’t afford the cheapest imitation Swiss Army knife, board straps can be easily unfastened faster than you can decide between the 32- or 44-ounce beverage of champions.
Thankfully, there are a handful of surfboard security solutions out on the market. I had the opportunity to test out the DocksLocks
security system, and I’ve gotta say it’s very cool to be able to bum around after a surf and not have to worry about losing my boards.How It Works
Simplicity is the soul of wit, and the DocksLocks system is certainly not short on wit comprised of nothing more than a stainless steel cable and locking mechanism.
The locking “Jaw,” which looks pretty much like a key, clasps itself onto the metal rod found in the leash plug of most shortboards.
For longboards which may not have this sort of leash plug, a rustproof “cleat” is easily inserted into the fin box from which the Jaw can grab a hold of.
The ten foot cable is threaded through the eyelet of the Jaw. By doing so, the handle of the Jaw is pulled upwards closing the clasping mechanisms in place very securely. The cable itself is looped around some preferably immovable object with the ends of the cable forming the male and female ends of a combination lock.
So in a nutshell: clasp, thread, loop, lock, and voila! It’s Big Gulp time.Some Stoke
The DocksLocks security system is as versatile as it is effective. There is no doubt that a lot of thought went into the design and handling of the mechanisms. There was clearly no compromise in the materials used. As far as surfboard security goes, this thing is cock diesel.
- Optimal Deterrence Factor – Just the sight of the cable intertwined among your boards sends an implicit message to would be low-lives along the lines of, “Don’t even think about it.” On the other hand, the subtle blue coating of the cable and the otherwise unassuming Jaw lock is not so obnoxious as to shout out, “Bring it!! I dare you!!” which no doubt turns to “Oh shit” if the jaws of life are brought to bear.
- Strong Components – Grasping just the Jaw lock which was clasped to a cleat in the fin box of my 9-0 Ohana Kemp double stringer, I was able to lift the entire weight of the board. I’d imagine I could’ve swung the thing around my head like a huge propeller but my wife, also known as my better and smarter half, convinced me otherwise. The cleat itself is rustproof and the single-way screw used to secure the cleat is difficult if not impossible to remove. Although I’m sure a pair of industrial strength Acme cutters like the kind Wiley Coyote used in the old Roadrunner cartoons could make short work out of the cable, I’d be just as quick to offer my boards up to anyone willing to take it to that level.
- Paint Friendly Cable Coating – I don’t know why people think I am anal about my car. Doesn’t everybody use a twelve step procedure to remove microscopic debris lodged into the clear coat? In any event, the rubber coating that covers the cable is certainly paint friendly, and I had no concerns about having it rub against the car. The uncovered jaggedly edged male and female combination lock ends however are another story which I address below.
- Multi-Use – Although this review is focused on surfboards and even more particularly securing them to a car, the DocksLocks system is way more than that. Boards can also be latched onto chairs and to each other making it more cumbersome to snag just one. A “universal cleat” is offered to secure other boarding equipment such as snowboards and kiteboards. Beyond board riding, the cable alone can double as a bike lock among other things. For the privacy freaks out there, they could latch the Jaw lock onto their luggage zippers and have the cable dangling forth as a symbolic “eff you” to the TSA. I’m just sayin’.
- Portability – The ten foot cable coils up to a nice industrial strength looking slinky complete with it’s own anti-uncoiling velcro strap for good measure. Everything fits into a slick looking mesh bag that can easily be carried to the beach, packed away with your gear, or slung over your shoulder at the night clubs – in the event you happen to roll like that.
- Cost Effective – It’s one thing to have a great security system. It’s another to have one that doesn’t cost as much as the property it’s meant to protect. At about 30 duckets for an all-in system, you simply can’t complain. Put another way, you’d be hard pressed to find a replacement board for that amount. And if you could, why the heck would you bother locking it?
- Responsive Company – I might be worried if I needed help figuring out how to use a leash. But something slightly more involved like a surfboard locking system might require a few clarifications here and there. The folks at DocksLocks are very good about answering questions I had in a down to earth and friendly manner.
Being the paranoid schizo that I am, I’ve given a lot of thought into what needs to go into an effective surfboard security system. Then I gave up after five minutes because my head hurt too much. It’s not easy, and I’d challenge anybody to solve the gripes I have about the DocksLocks system. Nonetheless, they are valid gripes and worth mentioning.
- Locking Strapped Boards – Unless you are a kung fu master adept in the art of levitation, it can be a bit tricky to secure the Jaw lock onto the leash plug rod or fin box cleat if the boards are already strapped onto your roof. Your best bet is to secure the Jaw locks while the boards are on the ground. I then had to pull a MacGyver and stuff some napkins into the Jaw eyelet to keep it from disengaging while moving the boards onto the roof. Since driving around with the Jaw locks engaged is simply out of the question, this actually proves to be quite an issue since you can’t simply park, lockdown, and walk away. I’m hoping that after some getting used to, you can in fact engage the Jaw locks without having to unstrap the boards.
- Short Cable - At ten feet in uncoiled length, you’ve really only got five feet of cable to work with once you’ve looped it around your secure object. I had initially hoped to loop the cable around a rim spoke but there would have been no way for it to reach that far. What I could do was loop the cable around the surf racks themselves. However, since my racks do not have a lock on them, a thief could just unfasten one side of the rack and ease out the cable. What I ended up doing was threading the cable through a cracked sunroof and back out through a cracked window.
Keep this in mind if you neither have locked racks or a sunroof. The folks at DocksLocks did mention however that they offered 25 feet and 50 feet cables for retailers.
- Stiff Cable – The downside to portability is that the thick cable is coiled so tight, that it requires some effort to unwind. Simply threading the cable through the Jaws is tricky lest you lose your grip and have either heavy metal ends scrape against your car’s paintjob. It may be the case however that the cable will soften up as it gets used over time.
- Permanent Cleat – The Tao of surfboard security strikes again here. While the use of one-way screws is brilliant to ensure that the cleat can’t be easily removed, that means you need a separate cleat for every board you want to lock down which doesn’t have an accessible leash plug. This is truly a minor gripe since cleats are a mere pittance costing less than three bucks each. However, one of the uses I had intended for the DocksLocks was a way to secure rented surfboards during trips abroad, and I’m not certain that the surfshop owners want stray cleats affixed to their fin boxes. Alternatively, you can purchase 8 x 32-1/2" regular screws to secure the cleat or forego the screw altogether. Granted, this is like taping the key to the back of a padlock - maybe nobody will bother to look.
- Shortboard Leash Plug – Since shortboards won’t have the gnarly fin boxes of it’s older school bretheren, you’ll need to have a leash plug in order to use the DocksLocks system. In particular, you need enough space in the leash plug so that the Jaw lock can clasp onto the rod from which your leash string attaches.
On my Channel Islands MX, the store I had purchased the board from employed some sort of whacky far eastern sumo knot taking up the entire length of the rod. While a tsunami wave couldn’t best that knot, I had to undo it in order to make room for the Jaw lock.
A number of local retailers
carry the DocksLocks system. You can also pick them up straight from their website: http://www.dockslocks.com/
At the time of writing, a full DocksLocks surfboard security system cost $29.95 and included a ten foot cable, one Jaws lock, one cleat, and a mesh carrying case. A universal system sells for $39.95 and is designed to secure snowboards, kiteboards, or any board with a 6 mm or 1/4" insert with a universal cleat. Additional Jaw locks can be purchased for $19.95 each; normal cleats for $2.95 each; and universal cleats for $12.95 each. Bulk discounts are available on all of these items.The Word
I would recommend the DocksLocks system without hesitation. Bearing in mind that you’d be awfully delusional if you thought there was such a thing as a foolproof security system. If someone really wanted to steal your boards, they’ll get them. But as far as being an effective deterrent both in terms of efficacy and cost, the DocksLocks system does the job and does it well.DISCLOSURE: THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE WAS PROVIDED THIS PRODUCT FOR FREE FOR PURPOSES OF TESTING.