What should I look for in a loudhailer?

A loudhailer can be one of the most useful boat accessories that you have onboard your vessel. Yet many mariners have no idea what these devices are or why they would want one on their boat. A loudhailer is exactly what it sounds like: a public address (PA) system that connects to your boat's communication module so that you can talk to other vessels that are nearby.

This instrument is also typically equipped with a siren that will broadcast internationally-recognized distress signals in the event that you require assistance while at sea.

If you're not sure what to look for in a loudhailer and what distinguishes one unit from another, here are a few tips:

  • More wattage means more power. A loudhailer with a power rating of 100 watts will be louder and broadcast farther than one that is rated at 30 watts.
  • Some loudhailers are designed to work with both your horn and your radio, while others are not.
  • There are different siren signals to indicate different types of distress and warnings. For example, the Furuno LH-300 Loudhailer comes with six preset sirens that are used in different situations, such as when your boat is being towed or has run aground due to reduced visibility. The more sirens that your unit is equipped with, the more flexibility that you'll have in communicating with other vessels.

To find out more about loudhailer equipment and other boat parts, we invite you to check out the ePal online store today. Our selection of marine equipment is unparalleled in the industry, and you won't find better prices anywhere else. We also offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states, so you can rest assured you're getting the best deal for the best equipment.

3 tips for troubleshooting your marine transducer

Your transducer is one of the most important boat accessories that you have on your vessel, so it's critical to make sure that it's working properly. When it stops giving you accurate depth readings or the water column, then it's probably broken and needs to be either repaired or replaced.

Having said that, you may be wondering if there's a way to troubleshoot your transducer to determine whether the problem is with the instrument or if perhaps it's simply receiving interference from another sonar device. Here are a few tips for figuring out the source of the problem:

  • Check for any external damage on the transducer itself: There are a number of ways that this instrument can become damaged, either because you struck an underwater object (if you have an in-hull transducer that protrudes from the bottom of the boat) or perhaps because barnacles have attached to it. Any cracks in the surface of the device might let in water, which can cause it to malfunction.
  • Inspect the electrical connections: Your transducer is connected to a series of wires that feed into your instrument panel. Make sure they haven't become corroded or detached from the system.

Marine transducers typically last many years, so with the exception of physical damage and wiring problems, most customers don't experience broken units all that frequently. If you're looking to replace your device with a more advanced model that provides more detailed information about what's going on underneath your boat, you should check out ePal today. We carry a wide selection of marine electronics that any boater will find useful, and our free ground shipping policy on all orders to the lower 48 states can't be beat!

More safety tips to make sure your next boating trip goes off without a hitch

Boating season is underway, and if you're considering heading out to your slip to take your vessel for a ride, you'll want to make sure to brush up on boating safety. This will make it much less likely that you'll experience any accidents or injuries while you're on the water, and you can focus more on enjoying your trip rather than worrying about whether you'll hit a snag.

Here are a few tips for ensuring that your voyage goes off smoothly:

  • Carry backup marine equipment: As noted by Boating Magazine, make sure you have backup gear on board that you can use in the event that your primary electronic instruments are damaged. We highly recommend having an extra marine radio on board as well as a handheld GPS system that can be used to send distress signals and transmit where you are. It's very easy to lose gear overboard and suffer malfunctions.
  • Check weather forecasts: Before you hoist your anchor or cast off, make sure that you take a look at the weather forecast to make sure you're not heading into a storm. In addition, you should check surf reports to make sure that you won't encounter any massive waves, particularly if you're heading more than a mile or so away from shore.
  • Equip your boat with a horn: No sailor or boater should leave the dock without a horn or siren that can be used to grab the attention of others on the water. These marine instruments are a necessity, particularly if you're going to be boating in a crowded area such as the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of California.
  • Install a carbon monoxide monitor on your boat: Engines produce quite a bit of carbon monoxide, which is odorless and can turn deadly within a matter of minutes. It's particularly important to have a detector on the inside of your vessel that can let you know if gasses are collecting.
  • Keep an eye on the water surface: Especially when you're close to shore, you should watch for lapping waves and other signs that there are objects just under the water's surface.
  • Leave a float plan with the Coast Guard, friend or family member: Before you head out, make sure that you let someone know where you'll be going and when you plan to be back. That way, if you don't return on schedule and can't be reached by phone or radio, searchers will know where to start looking for your boat if you become stranded.
  • Never drink while piloting your boat: Drinking while piloting a boat can be just as dangerous as when you're behind the wheel of a car. Not only does it increase the risk of striking underwater objects and other boats, it puts you at risk if you're in an accident and need to make sound decisions in terms of how to help your crew and avoid injury or drowning.
  • Remember that boats don't have brakes: When you're approaching your slip, always put the motor in neutral well before you reach the dock. Otherwise you could suffer a major collision that could result in injuries or worse.

If you find that you need any marine and boat accessories to make your trips safer, you should check out ePal today. Our gear selection is the best you'll find on the internet, and by shopping with us you could save hundreds of dollars over list prices. For more information, visit our online store today!

Heading out on your boat soon? Follow these 5 safety tips

With temperatures warming up all over the country, many boat owners are heading out to their docks to take their vessels for a ride. If you're one of these lucky mariners, it's important to remember that safety should be your number one priority when boating. It's a fun hobby but, if done carelessly, can be very dangerous.

Boating Magazine recently listed its top 44 boating safety tips. Here are some of their best pieces of advice:

  • Bring a pair of binoculars on your journey: It's difficult to overstate how important having a pair of binoculars can be while on a boat. It can help you see approaching vehicles and land formations that may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • Go over your docking plan with crew members: Before you approach your slip, make sure that all members of your crew know exactly how you'll be approaching the dock and what their responsibilities will be in terms of throwing lines over the rail and jumping on the dock.
  • Use warping to pull out of tight spaces: If your boat is parked between two others and you can't move forward or backward without hitting another boat, use warping to maneuver. This is where you tie the bow of your boat to the dock and use it as a pivot point to swing out of your parking space.

You should also ensure that your boat is full equipped with a chartplotter and other marine instruments that will make your voyage safer. If you need to upgrade or replace your navigation equipment, your best resource for this gear is ePal. We have the best prices on the internet, as well as the best shipping policy. Browse our inventory today for our latest deals!

What are the best saltwater fish to catch?

Experienced anglers always seem to know which fish are located nearby and are the easiest to catch. But if you're new to fishing then you probably don't know what species to look for and which ones you'll have the best chances of reeling in. To help you get started, we've put together a brief list of some of the most frequently encountered saltwater fish and how you should go about trying to catch them.

Here are a few species you'll definitely want to try catching on your next saltwater fishing expedition:

  • Flounder: Bleacher Report notes that flounder typically hang out around docks, pylons, reefs and other structures, and they usually stay close to the bottom. Make sure to be patient when going after them, as they aren't very aggressive about biting on bait. If you feel a tug on your line, wait just a few seconds before trying to reel one in.
  • Mahi Mahi: Tired of paying a lot of money for a mahi mahi steak at your favorite restaurant? You can catch your own as long as you have a good boat that you trust to take you out away form shore, as this is a deepwater fish. Look for flocks of birds diving into the water, as this is a sign that they have found a school of fish.
  • Red Drum: These are pretty common fish along the East Coast, and they're a favorite of experienced anglers. Experienced fisherman Joey Sweet recommends not fishing directly over them in the water, but off to the side at some distance in order not to disturb them.

You'll have a much easier time of making a big catch if you have the right equipment. Make sure your boat has all the marine instruments and gear you need by shopping at ePal!

3 essential baits for bass fishing

Are you looking to catch some bass this spring? It's certainly the perfect time to hit the lake, as bass are typically emerging from their winter haunts to prepare for spawning. Spring is when they're hungriest, so if you have the right marine equipment and bait, you should begin to reel in some big catches in the next few weeks.

Not sure what kind of bait you should take with you on your trip? TackleGrab.com has some suggestions for baits that have been proven to be the most effective:

  • Crankbait: This is a favorite of new bass anglers as it's easy to use. Crankbaits are designed to dive to the bottom and then be reeled up. As they move vertically through the water they wiggle and catch the attention of bass. The only thing to be wary of is that, because they dive to the bottom, they can become snagged on plants and rocks, so make sure you know how deep the water is and avoid problems like this.
  • Jigs: One of the most versatile types of lures, jigs are much easier to user in places where the weeds have grown thick. The best colors are green and blue, as these are more easily spotted over long distances underwater.
  • Spinnerbait: Perhaps the most popular bass fishing option, these are commonly used because they are highly visible in the water. They don't look much like fish, but the spinning, sparkling colors are too much for the fish to resist.

Remember that if you're serious about bass fishing, one of the tools that will help you the most is a fishfinder. These devices, which you can purchase from ePal, give you in-depth information about the water column and help you locate the best schools of bass. Check out our online store today for more information!

Follow these tips when sleeping on your boat!

There may come a time that you'll need to sleep on your boat, most likely because you're in the midst of a long voyage. While sleeping on a boat in calm seas can be a pleasant experience, it's also very easy for it to turn into a dangerous situation if you're not careful, especially if you're sailing alone.

If you find yourself in a position where you'll need to sleep onboard your boat, make sure that you follow these tips:

  • If you're near shore, try to find a small protected cove: There's no point in anchoring in choppy waters if your within range of a cove that is protected from wind. This will also allow you to anchor to the shore.
  • Keep some lights on for other boaters: Make sure that your boat is plainly visible so that you aren't hit by other boaters. No matter how unlikely it is to happen, such a collision could be fatal and should be anticipated.
  • Use an anchor that is at least one size bigger than what is recommended for your vessel: Discover Boating recommends buying an anchor that weighs one pound for every two feet of boat length for most uses. But for overnight anchoring, they recommend one and a half pounds for every two feet of length.

For boaters who are looking for navigational and communication equipment for their vessel, there's no better resource for this gear than ePal. We have the best selection, prices and customer service of any supplier. Furthermore, you can't beat our shipping policy. We offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states, in addition to flat rate expedited options when you need your gear more quickly.

Is Colombia the next hot boating destination?

Colombia hasn't had the best reputation in the last few decades, with drug cartels and violence typically dominating the news that makes its way to the United States. But much of that is history, and some are predicting that Colombia will become the next big boating destination for fishermen and yachters.

It makes sense that the country would be a prime spot for boaters. It has long coastlines on both its Pacific and Atlantic sides, and many large ports where vacationers can anchor and explore. In addition, there's plenty of fishing to be had in these areas.

To attract more boating tourism, the country has been hosting boat shows, including the Cartagena International Boat Show, which was held recently in the Pacific city of Cartagena. The show drew over 3,000 attendees, representing an increase of 165 percent over last year, according to Trade Only Today. Held in late March, the show's vendors were especially happy about the turnout.

"In Colombia now, we see tourism as one of the main sources of employment," Santiago Rojas, Colombia's minister of tourism, told the source. "In Colombia, of course, we have two seas on our borders. Nautical tourism and all of the industry around it is very important. We are out of the hurricane zone."

If you plan to take your boat down to Colombia at some point, you should recognize that it's not an easy journey, and having the latest navigational technology on board will be a big help. Boaters who are in the market for a chartplotter that will help them find their way through international waters should invest in new unit from ePal. We carry the best brands at even better prices, so you can rest assured you're getting a great deal!

The search for the perfect bass bedding

Bass anglers are obsessed with finding the best bedding, or nest, whenever they head out to catch some fish. The bedding is the place you're most likely to catch bass, as they tend to hover around this area in order to protect their eggs. Finding bedding isn't a particularly exact science, but there are steps you can take to improve the odds of locating one of these pockets.

The first thing to note is that, like many other animals, bass like to keep their eggs in a sheltered nest that is less susceptible to predators. This means they'll usually dig a hole beneath an underwater log, a rocky ledge, or plants that are growing above the surface of the water.

Experienced bass anglers will usually turn on their trolling motors and move slowly along the shore of the river or lake where they're fishing and try to visually spot one of these beds. As The Sportsman's Guide notes, the best lures for bass fishing are soft plastic creatures that resemble crawfish and salamanders — which are more likely to attack the nest. This means they're also more likely to grab the attention of a protective new parent.

However, it's also important not to become too obsessed with searching for bedding. As recently noted by Field and Stream, sometimes it's better just to cast your line in the middle of a lake and wait for something to bite. After all, isn't fishing supposed to be a relaxing pastime?

If you want to increase your chances of catching bass and other fish, make sure your boat is equipped with a fishfinder from ePal. We carry the latest technology from the best brands, so you can rest assured your device will help you increase your catches!

How to repair a crack in your fiberglass hull: Part 2

Recently, we blogged about the preparatory steps that you need to take before you begin to mend a crack in your fiberglass boat's hull. This is a process that every boat owner with a fiberglass vessel should understand, as you don't want to be stuck out in the middle of the ocean with a breach that you can't fix. This would put you and your passengers at risk.

Once you've prepared the area that is cracked for repair, you'll need to begin to apply glass fabric in alternating layers between 1 1/2-ounce mat and 6-ounce cloth. In between each layer, you'll apply a coating of resin that will hold the materials together. The first layer should be placed on top of a thin application of Gelcoat, which helps to hold the subsequent layers in place.

Generally speaking, it's recommended that you apply one layer of cloth and mat for every 1/32 of an inch of hull thickness. In other words, if your hull is a half inch thick, you would want to apply 16 layers of fiberglass before putting on the finish.

BoatUS, a boating resource, suggests using polyester or vinylester resin when you are patching a hole that is above the water's surface. For cracks that are underwater, you should use epoxy instead.

Of course, it's always preferable to not find yourself in a position where you have to fix your hull at all, which means you'll want to do a good job of anticipating any underwater hazar​ds that might cause a breach. The best way to do this is to equip your boat with a marine transducer and other marine electronics that can give you surface and water column information in real time. For more information, check out the latest navigation products from ePal!