Three tips for nighttime boating

Sometimes you can't avoid boating at night, and if that ends up being the case, you need to be prepared. Obviously your visibility is greatly reduced once the sun goes down, but something else to consider is that other boaters may not be as well-trained as you are. For this reason it's a good idea to review some issues before heading out, in the event that you find yourself navigating in the dark:

  • Be Careful With High Beams: If you rely on continuous high beam lighting to find your way, you run the risk of blinding other captains who may be heading in your direction. If your boat is equipped with these lights, use them sparingly.
  • Know Your Lighting: Boats typically have at least four lights, and sometimes five. The sidelights are a red and green light on each side of the bow, and if you can see both of them on another vessel, it means it is heading directly toward you. The red light is usually on the port side, while the green will be on the starboard side. There is also a stern light, which is white and located on the back of the ship, a white masthead light located on the front, and occasionally an all-around white light on the mast that is visible from any direction.
  • Slow Down: The fact is that even with good lights, your visibility will be poor and you'll have trouble seeing any objects under the surface of the water, let alone other ships. Moving slowly is the only surefire way to make your trip safer for you and your passengers.

Having the right boat parts on your vehicle is extremely important if you think you may have to pilot it at night. You can find the best marine GPS and other accessories by shopping at ePal, the industry leader in boating accessories.

Surviving at Sea: Finding drinking water

No one ever wants to be stranded at sea, but any mariner who is going to be spending time far away from shore needs to be prepared for this scenario. Boats can capsize or be damaged in storms, and if  this happens to you, you want to be sure you have a plan for staying alive until the Coast Guard or other sailors can find you.

One of the most important considerations is how you will stay hydrated. As you probably already know, you simply cannot drink seawater. This will cause you to become dehydrated faster, causing significant damage to your internal organs, especially your kidneys. 

Your best bet is to collect rainwater when you encounter a storm. Outfit your lifeboat or raft with a tarp and position it in such a way that you can let rain drops flow into a container. If you don't have a tarp, you can also use clothing to absorb water, then wring it to extract the water.

It's important that whatever drinking water you have is rationed so that it lasts you until you are rescued. Discover News recommends that you drink sparingly on the first day and consume 12 to 16 ounces each day going forward.

Among the most important marine supplies that you should equip your boat with are safety devices that can broadcast your location to the Coast Guard and nearby vessels so that you are promptly rescued. Epal carries a number of these products from ACR, Garmin and other manufacturers, which will save your life if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being stranded at sea. 

A brief guide to inspecting your propeller

Whether you're getting ready for your next voyage or you're packing up your boat for the winter, it's a good idea to make sure your propeller is in good condition. Throughout a trip, the propeller can take a beating, and even the slightest bump against a rock or some debris can cause significant damage. If you neglect to inspect it routinely as you would any other marine instrument, you run the risk of throwing it, or losing the prop, in the middle of a trip, which could leave you stranded.

Luckily, inspecting your propeller isn't very complicated. Boating Magazine provides an in-depth rundown of the process. Here are some of the most important things to check out:

  • Blades: In addition to looking for any nicks or cracks in the blades, you should also check to make sure they're not bent. Bent propeller blades typically cause the boat to vibrate when under engine power, but you can also use a straight edge to measure the distance between the blade and a fixed point to detect smaller bends.
  • Hub: These tend to wear out over time, particularly if they're made of rubber, so if you find that your prop hub is deteriorating, it may be time to replace it.
  • Shaft: If the shaft is bent, it can also cause undesirable vibrations. Again, check distances between the blades and a fixed point to see if the shaft is straight.

In addition to carrying propellers, ePal can provide you with many other boat accessories so that you can make it to the next port of call. If you have any questions about our products, feel free to give us a call at (877) 245-8649.

How powerful should my fishfinder be?

Whether you're a commercial fisherman or a serious angler, your fishfinder is one of your most important tools for nabbing a big haul. The problem is that many marine enthusiasts don't understand the technology well, so they may end up with devices that are either not powerful enough, or go well-beyond their needs, providing a lot of information they don't even use.

One of the main specifications to pay attention to when selecting a fishfinder for your vessel is the peak-to-peak output of the SONAR transmitter. This determines how detailed the devices readings are of both local fish populations as well as the terrain underneath the boat. Generally speaking, the deeper the water where you'll be fishing, the more power wattage you'll want, with 800 watts being a bare minimum for boaters who will be in small lakes or very close to the coast. If you're a deep sea fisherman, or you're trolling well beyond the shore, you'll want at least a 3,000 watt system.

The thing to keep in mind is that higher power sonar will give you both a more detailed image, as well as a faster readout of what is underneath your vessel. Low power systems tend to lag, so that you'll have less time to react and aim for areas with higher fish populations.

There are many other features of fishfinders that you should take into consideration, but the power of the sonar transmitter is certainly one of the most important. If you're still a bit unclear about which unit is right for you, feel free to give us a call today at (877) 245-8649 to speak to one of our marine accessories experts.

Picking a mount for your transducer

Selecting the type of mount you want for your marine transducer can be a difficult decision. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type, and ultimately the decision rests on how much power and detail you want to get out of your device.

In this post we'll walk you through some of the features to consider when deciding between a transom-mounted transducer and one that is attached to the inside wall of the hull:

  • Shoot-Through ("In-Hull") Transducers: These are mounted on the inside of your boat, typically in the bilge, which is the closest part of your boat to the water. The advantage of this type of mount is that you don't have to drill a hole in the bottom of your vessel in order to use it. Instead, it sends a sonar ping through the hull's material, which severely limits its ability to deliver in-depth information about what lies beneath your boat. The hull tends to absorb some of the ping's power, which means that you'll get a less detailed image.
  • Through-Hull Transducer: Drilled into the hull of your boat, through-hull transducers give you more accuracy, as well as a more permanent transducer solution. They're typically the most expensive to install and replace, as they require you to permanently incorporate them into the structure of your boat.
  • Transom-Mounted Transducers: In terms of power and accuracy, you can't beat a transducer mounted on the transom of your boat. This puts it in direct contact with the water, which means that there's nothing in front of the transmitter that absorbs the sonar waves. As a result, you'll get much more useful information out of your transducer, particularly if you're boating in deeper waters.

If you're still unsure about what type of transducer will give you the best results, we recommend giving ePal a call today at (877) 245-8649 and letting one of our boat accessories specialists give you more information.