5 common types of interference for marine transducers

Your transducer may be one of the most important boat accessories that you own, but like any electronic piece of equipment, it is subject to interference from the other devices on your boat, as well as conditions in the water. No matter how strong the signal, at times you may find that the transducer just isn't delivering information correctly. If you're able to identify the type of interference you are dealing with, it may be easier to correct the problem.

According to Vexilar, a marine electronics manufacturer, there are five basic types of interference you'll be dealing with:

  • Acoustical: This occurs when the transducer was installed improperly so that the flow of water over its sensors is not even. 
  • Conducted: If you have a trolling motor attached to your boat, or your transducer itself is installed within the propeller hub of your trolling motor, your device may receive interference from the motor. You'll only have to deal with this issue if your trolling motor uses pulse width modulation (PWM) for speed control.
  • Electromagnetic Interference (EMI): Similar to conducted interference, this occurs when your trolling motor produces such powerful electromagnetic waves that they are absorbed by your transducer's wiring. 
  • Ignition: Just as it sounds, you can suffer from noise and interference caused by your ignition switch, which can distort not only your transducer signals but also those of your marine radio.
  • Sonar Cross-Talk: You may experience this problem if the signals from your transducer are intersecting with those of another one nearby that is transmitting at a similar frequency.

Marine electronic parts are becoming more powerful every day, which means that they're producing more interference. If you want to avoid these problems, the best way to do so is to make sure you're using high quality parts supplied by ePal, and that you have them installed by professionals who know what they're doing.

With snowstorm on the way, boaters beware

A big snowstorm is headed to the northeast, where snowfall is expected to reach one-to-two feet in some areas. For boat owners whose vehicles are located outdoors, whether they're situated on boat stands out of the water or tied to a dock, the threat of a storm can make them nervous about how their prized possession will hold up with all the wind and ice.

To make sure your boat survives the winter weather, make sure you've weatherized it properly. Here are some tips for preventing damage:

  • Cover the decks. The easiest way to prevent snow from accumulating is to simply tie down a solid, resilient cover that won't blow off when the wind kicks up.
  • If your vessel is sitting on stands in a boatyard, make sure they're secure and that they haven't been dislodged in any way by winds or someone accidentally bumping them.
  • Remove your trolling motor if it's still connected to the boat and store it in your home. These aren't typically attached to the boat very strongly, so a good gust of wind could knock them loose.
  • You may want to consider running some antifreeze through your engine if you didn't do so when you winterized your boat a few months ago.

By properly winterizing your boat, you can rest assured that when you go to check up on it after the storm dies down, none of your boat parts will need to be repaired or replaced. If you don't have the accessories, such as a winter cover, that you need to protect your boat from these storms, make sure you check out the latest weatherproof covers we have at ePal.

Autopilot systems catering to more boaters than before

If it's been a while since you installed your current autopilot system (or if you don't even have one to begin with), you may be surprised at how advanced these systems have become. Most boaters are a bit hesitant to hand over the controls of their vessel to a computer, but in the event that you must leave the wheel but need to keep traveling, these devices can be a life saver.

Power & Motoryacht Magazine recently went into some of the design trends that are governing the way manufactures make these boat accessories. One development that has been particularly important is the drive to create simpler, easier to integrate systems that can be deployed on older vessels.

"Boat users expect flawless performance from an autopilot, but without having to interact with it and perform a complicated setup every time they put to sea," Ian Matt, Senior Global Product Manager for Raymarine, tells the source.

The fact is that most boat owners don't have the latest, fastest and most advanced boats on the market. Instead, they're driving older vessels with dated electronic components. Fortunately, most manufacturers have the average boater in mind when they're designing autopilots for the mass market, so more boat owners will be able to take advantage of this useful technology that makes boating more enjoyable and safer.

If you've been craving a new autopilot system for you vessel but you were concerned that it might be too late to upgrade, don't worry! At ePal we have a variety of systems that can meet the needs of just about any boater. For more information, visit our online store today!

Clearing a fouled prop

After boating season is over, many boat owners will take their vessel out of the water only to find that the propeller is covered in barnacles, tangled plants, fishing gear and other debris that accumulated over the course of the summer months.

While it's tempting to simply leave your props alone and ignore the gunk and slime that gathers, this can have an adverse effect on your boat's efficiency. All of that material on the prop blade will cause it to move less water when it is spinning, and you'll end up using more fuel to cover the same distance.

In this article we'll discuss some of the ways you can clear a fouled prop:

  • Antifouling paint is sometimes applied to boat props while they're out of water for winter. You can apply it yourself, but many boatyards will do this work for you. This paint deters flora and fauna from gathering on the blades.
  • If your prop becomes entangled in some kind of fishing netting, such as a lobster trap, while you're underway, first stop the motor to assess the situation. With an outboard motor, you could tilt the engine up and untangle the netting by hand. For inboard engines, you can try running the motor in reverse to clear it. 

If your prop becomes unusable or corrodes because of debris, it may be time to invest in a new one. There are many places to purchase new boat parts, but you'll find the most affordable prices and the best service if you shop at ePal.

3 essential items every boater should have on their vessel

Reasonable people can disagree about what marine instruments are absolutely necessary for every boater. Indeed, the selection of equipment that you carry on your vessel depends largely on what it's being used for, whether you're a commercial fisherman or a recreational sailor. But there are certain tools and items that every boat should have, no matter what you plan to do once out on the water.

Here's a list of three essential items you shouldn't leave the dock without:

  • Jumper Cables: Just as you would keep a pair of jumper cables in your car in the event that its battery needs a jump, so should you make these a permanent fixture in your boat. Boating batteries can be unreliable, especially if they're old, so jumper cables protect you against an unexpected dead unit.
  • Personal Flotation Devices: Not only should you have one on board for every single passenger, but before pushing off you should make sure each member of your crew knows where these items are stored and how to use them. This is especially the case if traveling with less experienced boaters.
  • Spare Propeller: Having a spare prop can be a lifesaver in the event that the prop on your boat is damaged. This can happen if you accidentally hit underwater hazards that you didn't detect.

These are only three items that you should carry, but they're not the only ones. Having a solid arsenal of communication equipment, marine GPS and other products are just as important. If you're not sure what other tools you should be carrying, make sure to check out the ePal store to see what equipment is available.

Video of boating rescue goes viral

A man who was trapped under a capsized boat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and survived three days on a small pocket of air has become an internet sensation. The rescue took place in May, but it wasn't until this week that video of the dramatic event was released to the public. The footage shows Harrison Odjegba Okene, a cook aboard the tugboat Jascon 4, stuck in a small compartment where he was found by search and rescue divers from a Dutch company working near the site of the sinking.

The diving team, from a firm called DCN Diving, was initially only searching for bodies. Okene was the only crewmember to survive the wreck. However, as they inspected the wreckage, a camera on one of the searchers' helmets captured images of a hand pulling the diver towards him. The hand belonged to Okene.

"It was frightening for everybody," Tony Walker, project manager for DCN Diving, told The Associated Press. "For the guy that was trapped because he didn't know what was happening. It was a shock for the diver while he was down there looking for bodies, and we (in the control room) shot back when the hand grabbed him on the screen."

Boating on the open ocean can be both a thrilling and harrowing experience. As miraculous as this rescue turned out to be, it should be noted that 11 other sailors aboard the Jascon 4 perished in the sinking. Avoiding such catastrophes is the captain's number one responsibility, and it is more easily achieved by making use of a chartplotter, which is ypically equipped with instrumentation that can let you know of hazards both above the water and below. You can find the latest marine technology by shopping at ePal.

Boat capsizes off the coast of Tampa

A man is dead after his boat capsized off the coast of Pinellas County in Florida on December 2. Stephen Chadwick and Joseph Citro were taking their boat to meet friends on an island in the Gulf of Mexico when it began taking on water, capsized and sank. Chadwick and Citro decided to swim for shore, but Chadwick died hours after reaching the beach. Citro was taken to hospital but was later released.

It's unclear why the 10 foot aluminum boat sank. The incident occurred only an hour after the boatmen left shore. The passengers had initially tried to hold onto the hull, but later let go and tried to return to land. When they arrived, Citro attempted CPR on Chadwick, but was unable to revive him.

"He looked cold and in shock," Scott Hahn, a resident who with his family witnessed rescue crews trying to save Chadwick, told The Bradenton Herald. "We saw him and then we took the girls and we didn't want to be a part of that. The emergency people were here."

Incidents like this are a reminder that it is an absolute necessity to practice good boat safety, no matter how familiar you may be with your vessel or the waters you are navigating. You should always make sure your boat is equipped with life vests as well as marine instruments and electronics, such as those sold by ePal, that allow you to communicate with the U.S. Coast Guard ashore. Leaving these items behind can put you and your crews' lives at risk.