3 boating myths busted

As with any community that forms around a particular hobby, there are many and various rumors that surround the practice of boating, which can solidify into full-blown myths if enough people in the community take them seriously. Here are some of those myths and our explanations of why they are, in fact, mythical:

  • The more blades on a propeller, the faster the boat. Although a boat with a ton of propellers all over its rear may look like it's packing more power than those with fewer blades, the number of propeller blades does not actually affect the speed of a boat. Drag-racing hydroplanes use only two propeller blades. What extra blades are good for is increasing stability and reducing turbulence on the water.
  • Lakes don't have dangerous waves. In fact, the steep, rapid-fire waves that are common in lakes can be more dangerous than their wide-spaced, rolling ocean counterparts. The fact that a lake is an enclosed body of water allows waves to bounce off the shore and amplify other waves, leading to overall heightened amplitude. You should be just as careful of stormy waters on a lake as you are on the ocean.
  • Aluminum boats shouldn't be used on salt water. The belief that salt water will corrode aluminum is misguided, since boat manufacturers use marine grade aluminum that resists corrosion and can be reinforced with a carefully applied coat of paint.

One thing that's certainly not a myth is that ePal carries all the marine electronics and accessories you'll need going into the new year. If you purchase holiday gifts from us, you'll have until January 16 to return them with no restocking fees applied. Contact us now for help finding the right gift for the marine enthusiast in your life. 

Blue Water Warriors organization creates custom boat for disabled veterans

All boating fans know the feeling of peace and serenity that comes over you out on the water far away from the troubles waiting on land, but some of us need that peace of mind more than others. Fort Lauderdale couple Karen and Andrew Grego, heads of an organization called Blue Water Warriors, have devoted years of their lives to ensuring that disabled veterans have the same access to recreational boating as the rest of us do. 

To that end, the couple worked with designers and craftsmen to create what they believe is the first ever vessel constructed specifically for the physically disabled. The couple found that though boat accessories exist for small modifications for the disabled, they really needed to start from scratch in order to make a boat that, as Andrew Grego put it in the Sun Sentinel, you can run all on your own "if you have two fingers". Modifications range from small, such as deck-level boarding ramps and non-skid surfaces, to relatively complex, such as Seakeeper gyro stabilizers that completely prevent the boat from pitching and rocking, making balancing easier for amputees and those in wheelchairs. 

Blue Water Warriors also runs trips on the customized boats, offering activities including fishing, snorkeling and, for the less athletically inclined, "restaurant hopping". These trips have a profound effect on veterans' mental health. Sergeant Aaron Causey, a double amputee who served in Afghanistan as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, told the Sun Sentinel: "It is a program that helps us mentally and spiritually. I'm really excited to be able to get onto the boat and get out onto the water and fish or just go for a relaxing ride."

To find out more about Blue Water Warriors and how you can donate, visit their official website

What to wear on the water

Some people like to take advantage of going out on a boat to dress up in polo shirts and flimsy shoes, but if you're boating in any situation other than on a sailboat or luxury yacht in the summer, you might want to look into some hardier boating apparel. Dressing comfortably and intelligently will free up your attention for the things you really need to be focusing on. Here are some tips to help you dress for success on the water:

  • Use layers: Since temperatures can change rapidly over the course of a boat trip, it's practical to layer lighter and heavier clothing. For example, you could wear a T-shirt, a sweater and a windbreaker. 
  • Wear the right shoes: The most important factor in a boating shoe is how well the sole grips the ground surface. You don't want to find yourself slipping and sliding around the deck after an unexpected big wave, so leave street shoes and boots at home, and go with tennis or special boating shoes. Make sure the shoes don't leave marks.
  • Protect your eyes: Boaters' eyes are exposed to large amounts of damaging UV rays reflected off the water, and being blinded by glare can cause accidents, so make sure to wear a pair of polarized sunglasses. These will allow you to see objects underwater in time to avoid hitting them with your boat.
  • If you're a sailor, get gloves: Sailing gloves are useful especially during racing to protect the skin of your hands from the rough use of the ropes and sheets. 

For any of these items and more marine accessories and equipment, look no further than ePal's online store. We strive to provide every customer with the appropriate marine supplies for their needs. 

3 tips for kayak fishing beginners

Human-powered and inexpensive, the sport of kayak fishing is becoming more and more popular with outdoors enthusiasts looking for a way to stay in shape while enjoying a fishing trip. If you're thinking of getting into kayak fishing, here are some things to consider first to help you get the most out of the experience:

  • You should know something about both sports. If you're an expert kayaker but have never fished in your life, or if you know your way around a rod and line but have never stepped foot in a kayak, make sure you read up on and practice the sport that you have less expertise in before attempting to take on anything too difficult.
  • Consult with retailers to determine the ideal kayak for you. The style of kayak you'll need will depend on many factors, including whether you intend to fish in lakes, rivers or the ocean, what type of fish you will be pursuing, and what type of fishing you do. This can all get pretty complicated, so don't be afraid to consult with the experts to help you find the right boat. Some stores will allow you to take a kayak out for a test run before buying; take advantage of this opportunity if it's offered to you.
  • Customize your kayak. Once you have determined which model you're going to buy, you can start planning the marine accessories you will add on in order to make your fishing experience easier. Some of the most common custom additions are methods of keeping important items within reach while you're on the water, such as paddle holders or clips.

For more information about the boat accessories that can help get you started in a new outdoor sport, contact ePal through our website's chat feature or at 1-877-245-8649.

4 tips for towing wakeboards and water skis

There's nothing like the exhilarating feeling of being towed by a boat on water skis or a wakeboard, skidding along the water with spray in your face and sun in your eyes. However, these towing-centric water sports are also one of the top causes of boating accidents, according to Boating Basics Online. Knowing basic safety precautions will help you get started towing or being towed without subjecting yourself to potential injury:

  • Hand signals: Since it's impossible for the driver of the boat to communicate vocally with the person being towed, a series of hand signals have been developed for this purpose. If the towee holds out a flat left hand, they are requesting a left turn and a flat right hand signifies a right turn. A thumbs-up is a request for increased speed, while a thumbs-down means you should pump the brakes. An a-okay gesture (curled pointer finger and thumb forming a circle, with the rest of the fingers outstretched) is a sign that the current speed is good, while a vertical flat hand is a request to stop.
  • Choose a clear area: The recommended distance on either side of the boat is 100 feet, and 3,000 feet ahead of the boat should be clear of obstacles as well.
  • Have a spotter: Make sure there's someone on the boat other than the driver so that this person can constantly monitor the person being towed.
  • Remember the "slingshot effect": When you make a sharp turn in a boat that's pulling a load, the load being pulled (in this case, the person and the wakeboard or skis) will continue in the same direction as before, crossing the wake and possibly hitting objects.

For water skiing equipment and more marine accessories, check out ePal's shop. Chat with us during the day to help us find the right marine equipment for your needs.

Marine cuisine: 4 tips for cooking on a boat

We must admit, our curiosity about what it would take to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner onboard a boat is what led us to the topic of this post. After some research, we do not recommend ever attempting such a thing. However, there are some simpler recipes that you can easily prepare during long sea voyages as long as you come prepared. Here are some tips to help your onboard cooking experience run smoothly:

  • Make very detailed lists. One of the main differences between cooking on a boat and cooking on shore is that on a boat, you can't just run to the store for things you forgot once the cooking is underway. Before you set out, make sure you meticulously go through everything you'll need to accomplish your recipe and leave nothing behind.
  • Prepare for limited space. Everything, from the kitchen to the storage areas, is smaller on a boat. It can help to bring multipurpose utensils so that you have to store fewer overall. Also, if there is a refrigerator it's likely to be small, so bring mostly food that can be stored outside the fridge for long periods of time.
  • Expect the motion of the ocean. Rocking back and forth while cooking can cause chaos in the kitchen. Remember to bring cutting boards and utensils that use non-slip material and don't cook anything too prone to spilling (leave the big pot of soup or chili for your stove at home).
  • Don't bring too much alcohol. The effects of alcohol are stronger at sea, cans and bottles take up a lot of space, and drunk boating is dangerous, so go easy on the booze.

For top-quality, affordable boat accessories, check out ePal's online store. We are available to offer advice through the chat feature on our website, or at 1-877-245-8649.

6 little fishing tricks everyone should know

There are some fishing problems that can be solved with a big equipment purchase, but others just need a bit of ingenuity. As the idea of "life hacks" becomes wildly popular across the internet, many outdoors enthusiasts are shaking their heads and thinking, "We've been doing this all along" — little tricks for reusing items or making them more effective are at the heart of wilderness adventuring. Here are some of those tips to keep in mind the next time you're planning to head out on a fishing trip:

  • Make your bait more effective by sticking a nail into the end of plastic worm bait to make it bob and twist more in the water, making it look more like a real worm to gullible fish.
  • Run your reel under hot water to help newly spooled line to conform to the shape of the reel, preventing it from coming unspooled and coiling off the reel. 
  • Use stainless steel to remove fish odor from your skin. Soap and water are actually less effective for removing those tough marine odors than simply running your hands over any household stainless steel item — use a pan, a faucet, or a piece of cutlery, whatever you have around.
  • Freeze fish guts before throwing them away to keep the smell from building up in your garbage can.
  • Attach a wine cork to your eyeglass or sunglass strap so that if the glasses fall off during the struggle for a catch, they will float and can be easily recuperated.
  • Use a safety pin to hang hooks from so that they don't become tangled up in storage. 

If you're looking to go a bit further than these techniques, let ePal help you find the right fishing boat accessories for your needs. Use the chat feature on our website to contact us at any time. 

3 tips for catching fish in winter

Attention amateur anglers: Fishing season is not completely over. It's true that it does become harder to successfully catch fish once the temperature starts to drop, but that doesn't have to keep you from enjoying the pastime of fishing well into the winter. Just keep in mind that there are certain techniques to follow if you don't want to end up frozen out of the sport, so to speak. Here are some of those:

  • Know where to look: As the temperature drops, a basic instinct in fish kicks in that keeps them from moving around too much, allowing them to save energy. Therefore, just sitting out anywhere on a body of water is less likely to bring in a catch than targeting certain areas. More specifically, you should be looking for areas near the shore where the root systems of aquatic plants and trees form clusters that fish are likely to take shelter in. Fish can also be found absorbing energy in sunny areas or hiding in nutrient-rich deep waters.
  • Keep warm: Your own instincts are as good as a fish's in this respect — the best winter fishing is done on warm, sunny days, when fish are drawn to the surface by the sun's heat. If it's a frigid grey day, fish are likely to stay at home, so to speak, so do the same yourself.
  • Choose the right bait: In cold, clear water, fish are prone to feeding more based on sight, so use brightly-colored or live bait to catch their eye. Pre-baiting a particular section of the lake before you even head out on the water can also help prime the fish for your arrival.

If you're looking for fishing gear, such as a chartplotter or a fishfinder, ePal has what you need. Contact us for help finding the marine instruments that are right for you.

Boating in Florida? Watch out for migrating manatees

The yearly manatee migration has begun in Florida, with crowds of the gentle, intelligent animals sometimes known as "sea cows" flocking to the state's coasts in search of warm water to hide out in for the winter. Manatees are drawn to human-engineered sources of warm, fresh water, such as canals and outflows from power plants, because they don't have enough blubber to protect them from water temperatures any colder than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, they are often in danger of coming in contact with boats and causing accidents — about 60 manatees have been struck by boats in the state since January, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"It's a fairly common source of injury and death," said biologist Scott Calleson with the FWC. However, there are a few steps you can take to avoid harming these creatures and share the waters equally, while also keeping your own boat's crew safe:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses. Manatees only surface to breathe, and even then, "the only part of them that comes up is their little nose," according to marina dock master Skip McPadden. Wearing polarized sunglasses will help you spot them underwater.
  • Watch for circular patterns in the water. These can indicate that a manatee is swimming underneath.
  • Be careful around seagrass: Manatees are likely to be found grazing on seagrass beds, so give these an extra wide berth for a while.
  • Look up your zone on the FWC's website: A map of manatee protection zones can be found here.

Of course, if you're equipped with marine electronics such as a chartplotter or fishfinder, these instruments will point out the presence of large objects such as manatees in the water without any extra effort on your part. Contact ePal today for advice on outfitting your boat for manatee season. 

A beginner’s guide to EPIRBs

Whenever you set out for a long boating trip, it is crucial to bring along the proper safety equipment in case of an accident or an equipment malfunction. An EPIRB, or emergency position indicating radio beacon, is one of the best marine instruments you can equip yourself with for peace of mind on those long voyages. By connecting to a worldwide satellite network, an EPIRB is able to indicate the position of your vessel and other crucial information to be transmitted to search and rescue authorities.

Once the EPIRB has been activated, it determines its location using GPS, then sends a signal to a satellite network (in the case of a 406 MHz EPIRB, such as these ones available from ePal, this is the COSPAS/SARSAT system of satellites). This signal can also be activated automatically in case of an emergency, as some EPIRBs are designed to float and send out a distress signal upon immersion in water, and some can be activated via remote control. After the distress signal is received, the satellite network forwards it to the authorities on the ground, who send out the Coast Guard or Air Force Rescue to the indicated position. GPS-enabled 406 MHz EPIRBs have a location accuracy of about 100 feet from the original signal position, making them much more efficient than other types of EPIRB devices, whose location range can increase to over 12 square miles.

Due to the much greater accuracy of 406 MHz EPIRB devices, they have been the preferred form of EPIRB after the 2007 ban on 121.5 and 243 MHz EPIRBs took effect. If you're looking for a top quality EPIRB at an affordable price, check out the ACR Globalfix™ iPRO, on sale now at ePal for 36 percent off the usual retail price.