Four top camping spots for fall

Camping may be associated mostly with summer, but the cool weather, beautiful foliage and decreased number of biting insects that fall offers make it an ideal season for outdoor adventures. From leaf-peeping in New England to rock climbing in the Southwest, parks across the US offer all the outdoors experiences you need to take advantage of the season:

  • Pawtuckaway State Park: This New Hampshire park is a prime location for fall foliage (as are most parks in New England at this time of year). Hit the park's mountain hiking trails to take in the leaves, or set out on Pawtuckaway Lake for boating and fishing. The park is also a popular destination for orienteering hobbyists, hosting the New England Orienteering Club and other local orienteering and geocaching organizations.
  • Picacho Peak State Park: Although the name is redundant ("Picacho" means "big peak" in Spanish), the features of this Arizona desert state park certainly aren't. Fall is the season when the desert cools off enough to allow visitors to take on the Hunter Trail, a 1,500-foot climb to the top of the park's eponymous peak. Hiking boots are a necessity, as well as sturdy gloves to grip the steel cables installed to help climbers.
  • First Landing State Park: The most visited state park in Virginia, First Landing offers a wide selection of activities for visitors, including an annual fall festival that's great for children. The park also has an educational center that provides opportunities to learn about the unique ecosystem of the Virginia maritime forest.
  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park: The fall is the last chance to camp out under some of the biggest trees in the country at the oldest state park in California. The park also offers waterfalls, canyons, and a flourishing population of birds and wildlife.

Get everything you need to equip yourself for camping this season in our camping section!

Get Out the Grill

With football season in full swing and crisp fall weather ahead of us for a while yet, fall is no time to give up on your grill. Whether you're tailgating at the game, camping with family or just in the mood for some outdoor cooking, these grilling ideas will keep everybody full and happy (although we make no promises about healthiness). Grab the tongs!

  • Juicy Lucys: Invented in Minneapolis, these cheese-stuffed burgers are a mouthwatering treat. When forming the patties, simply fill the middle with cheese, so that the cheese melts inside while the burgers cook. Careful — the first bite can be hot!
  • BLT Burgers: Wrap burger patties in bacon (as much or as little as you want!) before you put them on the grill for an extra-succulent meat experience. Serve with lettuce and tomato.
  • Chicago-style hot dogs: Tired of plain old ketchup and mustard on your dogs? In Chicago, hot dogs are traditionally served with whole slices of tomato and pickle, chopped onions and pickled peppers, adding a lot more crisp vegetable flavor to this old standby. According to many Chicagoans, ketchup is a no-go on this type of hot dog, but we won't tell anyone if you want to add some anyway.
  • Cast-iron skillet cornbread: Cook cornbread in a skillet on the grill next to the meat — that way, it will absorb the smoky grill flavor and be ready around the same time as the main course.
  • Pizza: Yes, grilled pizza is possible! Make the dough first, shape it and slightly char it on the grill, before adding toppings and covering the grill until it's done. It'll have that fire-grilled pizza flavor.
  • Grilled s'mores: If anyone has any room left after these main dishes, you can roast marshmallows over the grill and make s'mores for dessert.

At ePal, we carry everything from full-sized gas grills to small portable stoves. Contact us for help deciding which model is right for you!

Winter is Coming: Ice Fishing Safety Tips

At this time of year, when the cold wind coming off the water starts to sting our cheeks, some of us give up outdoor pursuits and curl up inside for the season, hot cocoa in hand. Others, however, are undaunted by a little freezing wind and take this opportunity to start planning ahead for the sport of the true rugged winter explorer: ice fishing. But before you cut your hole in the ice and cast your line, take some time to brush up on the safety precautions and equipment you'll need to take on the elements:

  • Make sure you are aware of the ice conditions in the location you are planning to fish. The ice should be new, blue and clear. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 4 inches and up is the recommended thickness for ice fishing, 5 inches to park a snowmobile and 8 to 15 inches to park a car or truck, depending on the size. Be sure cars are parked at least 50 feet apart and moved every two hours. 
  • Having the proper gear can mean the difference between sinking and swimming — literally. A life jacket is as critical here as it is in all marine activities. A chisel is needed to check on the thickness of ice as you move across the lake surface, which is recommended every 150 feet. Ice cleats prevent nasty falls, and an ice pick can save your life in case of falling through.
  • Frostbite is a real possibility for ice fishers, so high-quality winter clothing is a must. The right coat and gloves will keep you as toasty warm as if you stayed inside by the fire.

Once you have the basics down, there are of course accessories available to make your fishing experience easier and more fun. Flashers like the Humminbird ICE 45 help you see what's going on below the surface with cutting edge sonar technology. For more information or help choosing equipment, call ePal Inc. at 1-877-245-8649, or use the new chat feature on our website

The United States Coast Guard invites public to comment on its grants

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) wants to know what the public thinks about its present concepts for boating safety grants. Last week, the Guard announced in the Federal Register that it is proposing awarding grants to several "areas of interest" in regard to its Recreational Boating Safety Grants for Nonprofit Organizations. 

All public comments on the grant money and how it should be used will be considered through October 28. They can be expressed at http://www.regulations.gov, faxed to (202) 372-1932, or mailed to Docket Management Facility (CG-BSX-24), USCG, Room 4M24-14, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20593-7501. The office is also open for hand delivered comments daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additionally, any other questions can be submitted to Program Manager Cheryl Collins at Docket Operations, (800) 647-5527. Reference docket number USCG-2014-0911 when you call. 

The National Boating Safety Advisory Committee will be discussing all comments at a meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 6. If you are providing your comments in writing, the committee suggests that you do so on letter-sized paper and include contact information so you can be reached with further information. 

Giving out grants is an annual practice for the USCG. However, this is the first time that the public will be welcomed to express its opinions about the matter.The law allows the Guard to do so but it has never been required and there are no guarantees that the practice will happen again any time soon. The following are the eight priorities for which the guard have suggested grant money be supplied:

  1. A Year-Round Safe Boating Campaign
  2. An Outreach & Awareness Conference
  3. Standardizing Statutes and Regulations
  4. Accident Investigation Seminars
  5. Life Jacket Wear
  6. Voluntary Standards Development
  7. Safety Training for Urban Youth
  8. Boating Under the Influence

If you have any comments for the USCG, you should share them. Also, if you have any needs regarding marine accessories or boat parts, contact ePal. We have the affordable but dependable products you can trust. 

United State Coast Guard considers the use of drone

In the interest of expanding and improving upon its first responder capabilities, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is deliberating whether or not it should incorporate drone technology into its operations. While the decision has not yet been made, the Guard's Research and Development Center, in congress with the Homeland Security Department's Science & Technology Directorate, are soliciting white papers from vendors who specialize in Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS). 

The Guard is presently looking to investigate how effective drones would be in various maritime environments, an effort that comprises part of the Robotic Aircraft for Maritime Public Safety (RAMPS) project, which resembles the Department of Homeland Safety's similarly titled Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety project with the significant difference being that the former focuses on coastline activity exclusively. 

Flight tests and the evaluation of airborne sensors are also part of the USCG's plans. They are expected to be conducted at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's test range but, presently, the white papers from thought leaders stand as a priority. The small UAS that the USCG are considering are known by their wingspans of less than six feet, weight of less than 55 pounds and ability to operate from a wireless ground station. 

When the tests begin, they will require selected vendors who have been invited by the USCG into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to conduct the analyses in "simulated but realistic and relevant real-world maritime operational scenarios, such as law enforcement operations, search and rescue, and marine environmental response," according to Executive Gov.

While the USCG continues to measure how to best keep our waters safe, use ePal to find the best boat parts and marine accessories that will help keep you and your passengers safe. Contact us today to learn more about our dependable and affordable products. 

Allied Marine Brokerage & Charter partners with Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 59 to promote boat safety

In recent weeks, Allied Marine Brokerage & Charter announced that its office in Stuart, Florida, will be partnering with Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 59 and the auxiliary's Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program in the interest of promoting safety measures in local waters. Coast Guard Auxiliary 56, also based in Stuart, verified the partnership as well as presented an award at a ceremony at Allied Marine's marina on September 29 to both Allied Marine president Jon Burkard and his staff.

The cooperative effort involves keeping the public aware of all relevant boating safety information as well as updated federal, state and local statutes. One of the most pertinent laws was for the state of Florida, which may command extra promotional efforts mandates that operators who were born on or after January 1, 1998 must complete a boating education course and carry their Florida boating safety education identification card when operating a vessel in Florida waters.

Here are a few other boating safety tips to remember:

Create a Float Plan: Always be sure to not only create a float plan but to inform someone who is not going on the water with you of it, whether a family member or somebody on the staff of your local marina. Most importantly, the plan should include information on where you're going and how long you plan to be on the water. 

Know the weather: Making a preliminary check of local weather conditions is a simple procedure that can save you the burden of numerous headaches that could come from unpleasant hours wasted on the water, damage to your vessel or personal injury. 

Along with the other services provide through the partnership, vessel safety checks and local boating safety courses will be offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary as well. 

Safe boating is often the best way to enjoy your vessel and protect yourself, your passengers and any boat accessories you've invested in. If you're looking to add new boat parts to your vessel, shop ePal! We have the expertise and extensive selection of dependable and affordable marine instruments that will meet all of your needs.

A successful boating season draws to a close

Marinas officials are reporting that they enjoyed a good boating season this year, even though the winter before it was particularly harsh.

"It zoomed on by," said Anne Brown, a co-owner of Channel Grove Marina in Danbury Township. "Even though we had cooler temperatures, we stayed busy. I didn't have a whole lot of open slips, so I can't complain."

Now, as the weather begins to cool again, customers are starting to take their boats out of the water and prepare them for winter. Many of these are families with children, who have just started school, and won't have time to use the boats again regardless of weather. Some enthusiastic boaters, however, will wait until the last possible moment to do so. Local boaters, for instance, tend to stay in the marina longer, removing their boats at some point in October.

As the season comes to an end, area coast guard members gather to debrief on the events of the season and devise ways to improve performance next year.

"We had over 50 search and rescue calls, conducted 2,000 patrol hours, conducted 450 recreational boating safety boardings checking everyone's gear with high compliance, and the biggest number of all — we had zero fatalities on Lake Superior this year," said BMCM Robert Pump, of the U.S. Coast Guard, in an official statement. "It's been a phenomenal year."

Boaters are no doubt disappointed that the season is nearing its end, but it's always nice to look forward to next spring when you can take your first ride of the season. In the meantime, if you are in need any marine accessories, ePal Inc can certainly match you with your ideal product for the best possible water performance.

How to winterize your boat

It's officially fall and time to winterize your boat. Remember that it's important to prepare your boat properly for storage, even though we know you'll be sad to say goodbye to summer. The better care you take with storing it, though, the better condition it will be in come spring. Here are a few tips to help you during the process:

  • Anti-freeze: Run anti-freeze through your boat and also stabilize fuel. It's a good idea to consult a professional about this step, because it's the most important part of making sure your boat makes it through the winter undamaged.
  • Clean: Give the boat a good scrubbing before you place it in storage. This includes wiping out the lockers and rubbing down the wood with oil. When you come back to a fresh, shiny boat next year you'll be glad you did this.
  • Cover: Cover the boat with a tarp for protection and block exhaust pipes to keep animals from nesting in your boat.
  • Take it for one last spin: Take your boat on one last joyride, and appreciate how much fun it's given you and your friends and family over the course of the season. You'll have plenty of good memories to look back on during the harsh winter months. While you're riding, observe how your boat is working and assess whether or not it needs any repairs. Make a list of things you need to fix and parts you need to replace. Over the course of the fall and winter you can work on collecting these new pieces in anticipation of spring.
  • Unpack: Unload all the towels and life jackets and sports equipment that have piled up over the course of the summer.

Lastly, remember that if you're in need of any marine supplies you can find them at ePal Inc, where we strive to give customers the best boating experience possible.

3 tips for properly fueling your boat

One of the many ways that owning a boat is not like owning a car can be experienced through the refueling process. Unlike with cars, your vessel has several safety requirements that should be adhered to when filling its tank. Older boats that rely on gasoline can be especially risky if their fuel hoses have become brittle, leaving them susceptible to cracking and spilling fuel into the bilge. And inboard powered boats have closed engine compartments, making the dissipation of gasoline vapor challenging. 

With these and other challenges in mind, here are few tips to remember when refueling your boat: 

Avoid static: It probably goes without saying that static occurring while pouring a highly flammable substance into your boat is not an ideal situation. To preclude this from happening, keep the fuel nozzle in close contact with the fuel deck fill. Furthermore, stay close by to keep an eye on the fueling process which means fighting off the urge to use the hands-free clip. 

Disembark: Once your vessel has been safely docked, everyone should leave the boat and keep a safe distance while the fueling process happens. Portable tanks should also be removed and filled from the fuel dock also.

Know your limit: If you overfill your tank you'll have gasoline splashing out of the fuel tank vent. Sometimes it takes the familiarity with a vessel that only comes with time, but after a while you should be able to know how much fuel you'll need without thinking about it. Also, a tank that is too full presents the risk of fuel expanding and splashing out of the tank on an especially warm day. 

If you're looking to buy new boat parts or marine accessories, ePal has all of the dependable items that you need, and at great prices. Contact us today!

How to navigate a "No Wake" zone

A common question from boating novices is the one that inquires about "No Wake" zones. 

"No wake" indicates that a vessel is traveling at or beneath an idle speed, a pace at which the boat and its wake, a term used for waves, aren't likely to cause injury or damage to another person, boat or property. What has become somewhat controversial about "no wake" scenarios is that the designs of many boats aren't exactly conducive to them, especially if the hull of a boat comes with a deep-v. Also, operating stern-drive vessels can lead to further engine complications that exacerbate the situation. 

Nevertheless, none of these realities make adhering to "no wake" zones impossible. 

First, most boats have two separate 5 mph speeds. One involves the throttle being adjusted forward of neutral for what is known as "idling in gear." This is where the engine is turning at roughly 600 rpm. The other, and more broadly known, 5 mph involves the engine spinning at about 1,300 rpm, where there is more thrust but the boat is squatting, which means a larger wake even without increased speed. 

The difference is as significant as your respect for the federal law, which requires you acknowledge wake regulations. Here is another tip to consider when looking to reduce your wake: 

Act quickly: Slowing down in advance is your best option for successful compliance. Some may even consider it your only option as backing off the throttle just as you're lining up next to a small boat likely means that you are already in the zone with a prominent wake. 

Sometimes, a little knowledge can be one of the most useful boat accessories you can have. Nevertheless, if you're looking to add new boat parts to your vessel, shop ePal! We have the expertise and extensive selection of dependable and affordable marine instruments to meet all of your needs and desires.