How to improve your boat’s fuel efficiency

Power boats are fun, but if there's one drawback to owning and using one, it's that they consume tremendous amounts of fuel in order to deliver top performance. The fact is that propelling an object that weighs over a ton through water takes an incredible amount of energy – much more than it does to propel a car on a highway.

That doesn't mean there aren't steps you can take to improve your boat's efficiency. Here are a few tips to get more miles per gallon in your vessel:

  • Clean the bottom of your boat: Barnacles and other growth on your hull can create drag that slows your boat down and wastes fuel.
  • Cut back on the throttle slightly: Running your engine at full throttle reduces efficiency. According to Sport Fishing Magazine, dialing that back by as little as 10 percent can reduce gasoline consumption by as much as 20 percent without you having to travel too slowly.
  • Monitor your exhaust system: If your boat is spewing black smoke from its exhaust pipe, then the engine is being overworked and may need to be cleaned. Exhaust from a well-maintained, functional engine will be invisible.
  • Reduce your vessel's weight: This may seem obvious, but many boaters travel with more gear onboard than they need. While you should always have life vests, radios and other safety equipment on board, see if there are other items that can be removed before you go on each trip.

It's also a good idea to have marine instruments on board that provide accurate fuel readings and let you know when your engine is experiencing mechanical troubles. You can find this equipment at ePal for the best prices, so make sure to check out our online store before you go on your next trip!

A checklist for your next fishing trip

Are you heading out on your first summer fishing trip soon? The last thing you want to happen is to forget to bring essential equipment with you, especially if these items are things you may not be able to purchase at your destination. There are a few obvious things you should put on your list: fishing pole, tackle box, food, drink and sunscreen. But what else should go on there?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Fishing license: Sometimes it's easy to forget that in most lakes and rivers you're required to have a fishing license. Make sure that you know the process for securing one before you head out on the water, as it may be easier to purchase online rather than in person.
  • Hydration: Bring plenty of containers to hold fresh water. The lake water may not be safe to drink. There may also be situations when you'll be thirsty but you don't want to head back to the dock, as your motor can disturb the fish and scare them away. Having water onboard will make a big difference.
  • Marine radio: When you're out on the water, whether it's a lake or the ocean, you'll want to have a radio so that you can contact the local authorities if you become stranded and need assistance.

For anglers who like to have the best marine electronics on their boat, there isn't a better resource for this equipment than ePal. When it comes to navigation and communication gear, no one has a better selection of the best brands at affordable prices. Check out our online store today to see our latest sales!

The importance of proper release technique

Catch and release fishing is becoming a more popular practice these days as anglers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of fisheries. Catching fish that are too small to eat and not returning them to the water can have a major impact on these populations, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best practices for ensuring their survival once you release them:

  • Don't try to remove the hook if it is too deep: Sometimes a fish will take a hook so deep that you can't remove it without performing surgery. It's better to simply cut the line as close as possible to the hook and let the fish go, as they'll either expel it themselves or the hook will eventually corrode.
  • Get your hands wet when you handle a fish: Fish have a layer of slime on their scales and skin that protects them from infections and parasites. If you touch them with dry hands, you risk removing this and exposing them to these hazards underwater.
  • Stick to a five second rule: Fish should never be out of water for more than five seconds at a time. Once you pull them out of the lake or ocean, place them in a bucket of water as soon as possible.
  • Try to use a net as much as possible: The less that you have to handle the fish, the more likely they will survive once they are released. A rubber net can be used to lift them out of the water.

If you're heading out to your favorite fishing spot soon, make sure that your boat has all the latest marine electronics and technology onboard so that you have an easier time finding and catching fish. You can find the best equipment by shopping at ePal!

The best bass fishing sites to check out this summer

Now that Memorial Day has passed, we're right at the beginning of the best season for fishing. Let's face it: there are other fish out there, but if you're a serious angler, then you're probably on the hunt for bass. These fish are fun to catch, taste delicious and can be found in just about any part of the country.

Recently, Field And Stream Magazine listed the best places to check out around the U.S. if you're a bass fishing enthusiast. Some of the locations they wrote about include:

  • Falcon Lake, Zapata, Texas: You'll want to bring your sunscreen if you take a trip to Falcon Lake, as it's right near the U.S.-Mexico border and temperatures routinely top 100 degrees. But you'll also want to bring plenty of bait. You can expect to catch quite a few largemouth bass over 10 pounds on this pond.
  • Lake Erie (especially near ­Sandusky, Ohio): You'll be hard-pressed to find a better place to catch smallmouth bass, and this time of year Sandusky has lovely weather.
  • Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Alabama: This was the site of the Bassmaster Classic in February 2014. You can typically find 8- to 10-pound bass on this lake, particularly in the summer, which Field And Stream describes as "grass-fishing time on Guntersville."

Of course, you'll have an easier time catching fish at these destinations if you have a boat with all the latest marine electronics and navigation equipment. If you'd like to have more success locating fish, make sure you purchase a new fishfinder from ePal. We have the best prices, and you'll find that our free ground shipping can't be beat!

Raymarine introduces new boating displays

One of the most important tools you can have on board your vessel is a multifunction display that connects your chartplotter, fishfinder and other instruments together so that they can be monitored in one place. If you haven't had one of these gadgets installed on your boat, now may be the time, as Raymarine has announced three new models that are almost certainly going to show up on your wishlist.

Here are the three models that were unveiled by Raymarine, along with some of their most notable features:

  • A9 & a12 Multifunction Touch Display: Available in 9-inch and 12-inch models, as well as the already-available 5 and 7.5-inch displays, these multifunction screens can serve as your central command center when you're on your boat. They feature a beautiful touch-screen that can be manipulated with pinch-to-zoom functionality. They feature a super bright, high resolution LED display that will look great even with a daylight glare.
  • GS195 Glass Bridge Multifunction Display: Owners of premium yachts will be hardpressed to find a better screen for their control panel. The 19.5-inch multi-touch display provides captains with unparalleled flexibility in terms of configuration, and built-in WiFi means you don't have to worry about cables running in and out of your cabin.

You can find all the latest marine instruments and technology at great prices by shopping with ePal. We carry the largest selection of gear and devices you'll find anywhere, and our free shipping policy to the lower 48 states means that the price you see on our site is the one you pay. Browse our store today for our latest deals!

4 tips to make sure you have a great time waterskiing

Now that Memorial Day has passed, it's time to break out the water skis and go for your first run of the summer. This entertaining pastime is one of the most fun, whether you're a novice or a seasoned skier. To commemorate the beginning of water skiing season, make sure to follow these tips so that you have the best time:

  • Always have at least two people on board the towing vessel. One should be the pilot, and the other should be watching the skier to let the driver know when they have fallen into the water.
  • Before you go on the water, make sure that the skier and the person watching have the standard hand signals memorized so that they can communicate. This includes using a thumbs-up to accelerate and a thumbs-down to slow the boat.
  • It's cliche to say, but keep trying if you're having trouble getting in a standing position on the water's surface. Waterskiing is like any other sport, in that practice makes perfect.
  • Let the boat pull you up, rather than trying to lift yourself out of the water. As long as your skis are pointed straight and up, you should have an easier time getting on the water's surface.
  • Make sure that the skies you're using are the right size for your height and weight. Consult with a specialist when picking our your equipment.

It's important for water skiing teams and groups to have the best equipment possible, especially when it comes to boat accessories. Make sure that your vessel is fully stocked with a marine radio and other communication equipment before you leave the dock. You can find this gear for affordable prices by shopping at ePal!

Boat sales rise in April

New data shows that boat sales are recovering from their winter slump, which could mean that the summer season will be a profitable one for builders and dealers. Trade Only Today reports that preliminary numbers from marketing and research Info-Link indicate that unit sales of outboard and powerboats were also higher year-over-year.

"We're on a continued upswing," Jack Ellis, Info-Link managing director, told the source. "April has essentially demonstrated what we as an industry had been predicting or hoping. We're going to come out the other end of this brutal winter and people will start buying boats again, even though it's a little later than last year."

Ski boats had a particularly good month, with sales rising 15 percent. Outboard sales were also higher, at about 10 percent above last year's levels. As Ellis notes, this has a lot to do with weather. In the winter months, the only part of the country with an active boating community is Florida. However, it's also clear that an improving economic outlook is having an effect on customers' willingness to invest in new watercraft. 

Boating typically takes the biggest hit when the economy slows down, as customers find they either have less disposable income or they are worried that their jobs may be in jeopardy.

However, it seems pretty clear that the boating industry has a bright future ahead. If you've recently purchased a new or used boat and you'd like to outfit it with the latest marine accessories and technology, your best bet is to shop with ePal. We carry the top brands, and our free shipping policy can't be beat! Browse our website today for our latest deals!

3 tips for making the most out of your jet ski adventure

One of the most fun things to do on the water is to take a jet ski for a ride with your friends and family. Personal watercraft are endlessly enjoyable to ride, but if not handled correctly, they can be extremely dangerous. It's important to make sure that you and your fellow riders are practicing safe habits while you are enjoying yourselves.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you have a good, injury-free time riding your jet skis:

  • Always have a spotter keep an eye out for approaching boats and other personal watercraft. They should also have a marine radio handy so that they can communicate with these boats if necessary. This is especially true when you're on a smaller river or lake, where you're more likely to be near other boaters.
  • Do not drink alcohol and drive a jet ski. These vehicles are weapons when you are intoxicated and you can easily lose control and hurt yourself or others.
  • Wear a life jacket at all times. Even if you're a relatively competent driver, the fact is that you have no control over what other people are doing. Someone else on a personal watercraft could lose control and strike your vehicle, knocking you unconscious. If this happens, a lifevest will save you from drowning.

If you're looking to purchase safety equipment for your next boat trip, or you want communication devices that you can use to keep an eye on boat traffic, your best bet is to check out the huge inventory of equipment at ePal. We carry the best brands at the best prices and have the best shipping policy on the internet.

South Dakota fisherman catches 128 lb. paddlefish

Paddlefish are a popular target in the Midwest and Northern United States, as they typically live a long time and grow to extremely large sizes. As a result, you'll occasionally hear about anglers reeling in big catches. Recently, however, an angler in South Dakota caught a paddlefish that represents a whole new ball game for the species.

The Star Tribune reports that Bill Harmon caught a 127-pound, 9-ounce paddle fish in Lake Francisc Case on May 7, which beat a record that had stood for 35 years when another angler caught a 120-pound specimen. Harmon's catch is seen as a victory not just for the angler, but for the species, which had in recent years seen its numbers dwindle. A stocking program was instituted in the early 90's, which led to the replenishment of paddlefish populations at Lake Francis Case.

"One of the original goals of the paddlefish stocking program was to initiate a sport fishery for this species," Jason Sorensen, a South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' fisheries biologist, told the source. "Paddlefish are a long-lived species and the Lake Francis Case population has some very old fish. There is potential for anglers to harvest large paddlefish and Bills' recent catch is proof of that."

If you want to catch large paddlefish like the one Harmon pulled in, you're going to need heavy gauge fishing line, as well as a large capacity reel for deeper parts of the lake. We'd also recommend investing in a good fishfinder from Garmin, Raymarine or Furuno, which will help locate the biggest groupings and schools. You can find the latest fishfinder technology at ePal, along with other fishing and navigation equipment that will make you a more successful angler!

How can I contact the U.S. Coast Guard if I’m in trouble while out on the water?

Hopefully, there won't be a time when you'll need to contact the United States Coast Guard (USCG) due to an emergency aboard your vessel. However, it's always good to know how to get in touch with the USCG in the event of an emergency, such as a boat collision or a medical issue for one of your crew members that requires speedy transportation to the shore.

There are three principle ways that you can contact the USCG, although only two of them are recommended if you are in distress:

  • By Phone: You can call them on your cell phone, if you have service, simply by dialing 911. Once you tell the dispatcher that you are at sea or on a lake, they will immediately forward your call to UCSG (or the lake policing authority, if they have immediate jurisdiction). Of course, cell phones don't always have service when you are far away from shore, so this will only work if you are within a few miles of the coast.
  • Using your VHF radio: Channel 16 on VHF frequencies is reserved for USCG communications. If you're in distress, hold your transmit button and say "Mayday" three times. Then provide all necessary information about your status and location, including the vessel name, your position, the nature of your emergency and the number of people who are on board. Once you make the call, wait 10 seconds. If you don't receive a response, keep repeating the call.

Of course, you'll have a much easier time contact the USCG if you have a marine radio on board that is reliable. If you're in need of new communication equipment for your boat, make sure to browse ePal's online store today for the latest deals.