Protect your boat with these theft prevention tips

Boat theft is a serious concern for all marine enthusiasts. Because docks and slips often feature only minimal security, your watercraft are more at risk than they should be. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent these incidents from occurring.

  • Install a GPS tracking unit: At ePal, we carry a wide selection of marine GPS tracking units that can be installed in your boat so that you can receive real-time location information. You can even set up a "fence" around your boat so that if it leaves these boundaries, you receive an alert.
  • Lock your cabin: It may seem self-evident that you should lock up your boat after you use it, but so many owners simply leave their vessel open because they don't think that theft will happen to them. Lock the cabin and make sure that the ignition for the engine can't be accessed without a key.
  • Take pictures of your boat: Make sure that you have plenty of photographs of your boat and have written down part numbers, license plate and serial numbers for all equipment. This will make it easy to identify your watercraft if it is recovered by the police.
  • When docked, secure your boat with a steel chain: Even if you have locked your cabin and made it impossible for someone to pilot your vessel without a key, you should also chain your boat to the dock so that it can't be towed out.

If you're looking to add security equipment to your vessel to make it theft-proof, you'll find that ePal has the best selection of this gear. We also feature the lowest prices and for all orders we offer free shipping to the lower 48 states. Check out our online shop today!

3 tips for avoiding boat collisions

One of the most disastrous things that can happen to anyone on a boat is a collision, particularly when it occurs many miles offshore. Such an incident can be crippling and result in an emergency situation that threatens the lives of all passengers. This is why it is critical for boat owners and operators to have marine electronics on board that can help them communicate with local marine authorities and request help from emergency personnel.

All boat owners should keep the following tips in mind when preparing for and dealing with boating collisions:

  • If you're on the same tack as another boat, the leeward vessel (the vessel that is downwind) has the right of way. The boat that is on the windward side (upwind) must yield.
  • Generally, the less powerful boat will always have right of way. Powered motorboats must give way to sailboats, and sailing vessels must give way to kayaks and other paddled watercraft.
  • Make sure there is a life vest for every single passenger. It seems like an elementary consideration, but so often boaters are careless about equipping their vessel with life jackets. It's also critical to instruct passengers in using this equipment, as you never know when you'll have someone on your boat who has never worn one before.

If you own a boat you should ensure that it has the communication and navigation equipment necessary to signal to other water craft. This will make your journeys safer so that you can enjoy your trips rather than having to worry about whether you might damage your vessel.

For the latest equipment and boat accessories, check out ePal's online store. We offer free shipping to the lower 48 states, as well as the kind of expertise and customer service that makes shopping easier!

Boat sales slip slightly in March

Yacht dealers across the country reported slower sales last month than they did in March 2013, according to boat dealer Denison Yacht Sales, which obtained its data from SoldBoats.com. The industry saw an 8 percent drop in sales, as the number of vessels that changed hands dropped from 2,642 to 2,439 in March 2014.

Even more dramatic was the drop in the value of overall sales, which dropped from $482 million in March 2013 to $268 million in March of this year. That represents a decrease of 44 percent, and it calls into question assumptions that the boat sales industry has been recovering from the recession.

Boating is particularly susceptible to economic downturns due to the fact that they are typically people's hobby, which is more likely to be cut from their budgets if they lose their job or see a drop in pay. Additionally, boats require a lot of maintenance, so even after they're purchased they require spending on the part of the owner.

In addition to economic stagnation, another factor that could be contributing to lower sales is the prolonged winter that much of the country has been dealing with. Many lakes and waterways only recently thawed, and in certain regions there is still regular snowfall that makes recreational boating far less pleasant.

If you're a boat owner who has put off replacing your vessel, one less expensive option may be to upgrade your marine electronics and equipment. At ePal, we carry the latest boating technology at prices that you won't find anywhere else, so you can rest assured that replacing parts won't ruin your household budget. For more information, browse our online store today!

Boat dealer receives jail time for deceptive business practices

Yesterday we wrote on this blog about how important it is for boating enthusiasts to find trustworthy dealers and mechanics. By finding the right marine professional to handle your boating sales and maintenance needs, you can avoid a situation in which you're overcharged for services or provided with subpar repairs that end up damaging your vessel.

Hopefully, by following our advice you'll avoid having to deal with individuals like a boat dealer in Helena, Montana, who was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for deceptive business practices. Shawn Corbett, entered into a plea deal with prosecutors in which he will also have to pay $33,000 in restitution and commit to 500 hours of community service for taking payment for work that he ended up not performing.

Local news source KXLH reports that one witness in the trial stated that Corbett belonged in an orange jumpsuit. His business was called Maximum Marine, and in some cases he would put off performing repairs for years.

If you want to avoid doing business with someone like Corbett, there are a couple things you should remember when finding a boating technician to work on your vessel:

  • Check their reviews on sites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau to make sure other customers had positive experiences
  • Shop around for good rates — don't assume that you have to work with the first mechanic or dealer you approach
  • Walk around their shop and see if it is in good shape and is kept clean. A well-maintained shop is the sign of a business owner who cares.

When you purchase boat accessories and electronics from ePal, you can rest assured that you'll have the best customer service experience possible. Browse our online store today for our latest deals on gear and equipment!

A guide to choosing a boat dealer

Once you've decided that you'd like to purchase a new boat, you're faced with a number of other choices that can feel daunting. One of the most important is finding a boat dealer you can trust to provide you with honest advice, good customer service and timely responses to inquiries. Given that many boat dealers are selling the same models, the choice comes down to which one gives you the best experience.

Trade Only Today, a boating industry magazine, recently provided a guide for readers on how to choose the best boat dealer. Here are some of their best pointers:

  • Do they have a good reputation online? There are tons of sites like Yelp, Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau that you can use to find out if other customers were happy with their service. This is especially the case when it comes to companies that are selling large items like boats and cars.
  • Does the staff of the establishment seem happy to be there? If the salesmen and administrative employees seem content with their jobs and work hard to please you, then you've proba​bly found an establishment you can trust. A company that treats its workers well will almost certainly treat its customers with the same courteousness and respect.
  • How close is the dealer to where you'll be boating? This will be particularly useful given that, if something on the boat breaks, you'll want to bring it to their facility as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Is the facility clean? If the dealer takes care of their premises and makes sure that there are no messes, that everything is uncluttered and there are no physical hazards, then they clearly care about their customers' satisfaction and safety. Ask your dealer if they have received a Marine Five Star Dealer Certification (MFSDC), which indicates they adhere to the highest standards of service and safety.
  • Will the dealer allow you to speak with past customers? Referrals are a great way to find out if the company is a legit​imate dealer, or if they have a history of treating customers poorly. 

It's important to remember that shopping for a boat is like buying a car, house or any other large, valuable possession: It's an experience that will likely take some time, a lot of research, many phone calls and involves disappointment. You'll probably view several different watercraft before you find the right one for your needs. Approach the buying process carefully and ask lots of questions of your salesperson.

If you receive anything less than the best customer service, you owe it to yourself to find another dealer. Depending on the size of the boat you'll be purchasing, you're about to hand them a very large check, so it's important that they recognize that and work to earn your business.

Once you've purchased your boat, you'll want to make sure it is outfitted with the best marine equipment available. If you'd like to see what companies like Garmin, Raymarine and Lowrance have to offer, your best source for this marine equipment is ePal. We carry one of the largest selections of GPS systems, fishfinders, chartplotters, tranducers, radios and other gear that will make your boating trips safer, more relaxing and more fun. On top of having the best prices, we also offer free shipping to the lower 48 states, in addition to flat rate expedited options when you need your equipment more quickly. Browse our site today for the latest deals, and call us at (877) 245-8649 if you have any questions!

New Coast Rica resort to break ground in June

A new resort in Costa Rica for boaters will be breaking ground in June, according to a recent article in Trade Only Today, a boating industry news source. The Golfito Marina Village & Resort, located in the town of Golfito, is expected to give a major economic boost to the area and provide yachters with a beautiful vacation spot.

The resort will feature 130 slips, 50 of which will be available when the first phase of construction of the deepwater marina is complete. The resort will cater specifically to super yachts, though if you would like to visit and don't have a boat you can also fly to Golfito​. In addition to the resort, Hacienda El Dorado, the development company that is spearheading the project, will be restoring roads and building new infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic.

Visitors will be able to stay in a luxury hotel, visit a local arts and crafts district, rent bicycles for bike trails and take water taxis to nearby towns and resorts. The project is expected to bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, which had suffered from economic stagnation after a Chiquita Banana Co. plant had ceased operations in the area.

With summer on the horizon, it's a safe bet that you're prepping your boat for trips to exotic destinations all over the world. Before you embark on your next journey, make sure that your boat is outfitted with the latest navigational and communications equipment available. You can find the best marine GPS and electronics equipment at ePal. Not only do we have all the highest quality brands, but we also offer free shipping to the lower 48 states and flat rate expedited options if you need your equipment faster!

Folsom Lake boating takes a hit due to drought

Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, California, is a popular boating spot for residents of the northern part of the state. It frequently plays host to boating races, and every summer those with power boats, sailboats and other watercraft look forward to the beginning of the season when they can take their toys for a spin for the first time since the previous fall.

However, with water levels falling and a drought that has wreaked havoc on the state's water supply, it's unclear whether 2014 will provide these boating enthusiasts with much of a season. The lake has opened for the summer, but authorities aren't sure how long it will stay that way.

One of the main problems is that with water levels so low, it's difficult for boaters to maneuver and avoid underwater obstacles like rocks. The lake may enforce a 5 mph speed limit to ensure that there are no collisions due to visitors being too close to each other.

"There's limited space out there," Arnold Boeck, a sailboat owner, told local news source KCRA.com. "You have to be constantly watching because you are so close to the bottom."

It's no secret that the drought in California has created headaches for boat owners and marine enthusiasts. For these individuals, few marine instruments will prove more useful this season than a marine transducer. With this device you'll be able to take accurate readings of the surface and ensure that your vessel isn't damaged by rocks and other obstructions.

You can find the latest in marine transducer technology by shopping at ePal. We carry an extensive selection of equipment from Garmin, Raymarine and many other brands who are on the cutting edge of marine electronics design. For more information, browse our site today!

BoatUS offers free fuel spill response training

Most boating activity in the United States occurs in the summer. As a result there is a higher likelihood of fuel spills occurring at popular boating spots this time of year. To combat this issue, the BoatUS Foundation has announced that it will be offering a free, online class that is aimed at educating seasonal employees of boating facilities on how to respond to these incidents.

"It's all about minimizing risk," Susan Shingledecker, BoatUS Foundation Vice President, said in a news release. "We encourage marinas and clubs to send their new fuel dock staff to the course just after they are hired, which will dovetail well with any marina's on-the-job training effort."

The course is meant not just for dock hands, but for any employees who may be nearby so that they can help in the event that they witness a fuel spill. It features online videos, interactive exercises and interviews with experts on a variety of topics, including:

  • An explanation of the different types of fuel products at marinas and docks: Handling oil and gas products may entail different procedures depending on the type and where they are being used
  • How to know when a tank is full: Not all boats have a shut off valve that will prevent over-fueling, so it's important to know when to remove the gas pump, particularly on older vessels
  • Impacts on the environment: What happens when fuel is spilled in a lake or the ocean? The course provides some answers.

If you'll be boating frequently this summer, it's important to ensure that your vessel is equipped with the latest fuel gauge and marine electronics equipment. This will help you with refueling and boat maintenance. For more information on the latest technology available, make sure to check out ePal's inventory today!

California boaters concerned about emergency drought barriers

Boating enthusiasts in California, particularly those close to the Sacramento river, are concerned that new plans to install drought protection barriers on three sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be harmful to the boating community. The barriers are intended to preserve water quality and protect water supplies upstream from where they are located.

Recreational Boaters of California, an association of boating hobbyists, believes that the barriers, which will be installed at Steamboat Slough, Sutter Slough and False River, will make it difficult for the boating community and economy to thrive during its most important season, from May to November.

According to Trade Only Today, a boating industry news source, there are a number of specific concerns that the group has brought up with state authorities:

  • Boat ramps that will be included as part of the design of the barriers will not be big enough for any vessels over 22 feet. As a result, boaters won't be able to transport their vessels over the barriers to other waterways.
  • The boating community was not actually involved in the planning of the barriers.
  • There is some speculation that drought conditions are not as extreme now as they were when the barrier plan was first conceived and these measures may not be necessary in the first place.

Whether you plan to boat in the areas where the barriers will be installed or you park your vessel elsewhere in California, drought can have a significant effect on how and when you take your watercraft out. In these situations, it is crucial to have your boat equipped with marine electronics from ePal, such as a high quality transducer. This will help you judge depths more accurately and determine if your boat is in danger of hitting underwater objects that have become a threat due to lower water levels.

Fish tracing technology helping to prevent overfishing, illegal practices

Seafood importers face a difficult task if they want to ensure that their products were sustainably caught. Since they are typically not involved in the actual fishing process, they need a way to make sure that the commercial fishing boats they rely on are using responsible practices without actually monitoring every single vessel.

Electronic tracking is making this job easier. A recent article on TriplePundit.com provides details on the electronic tagging system that Norpac Fisheries Export, which has offices in Seattle and Hawaii, deployed to ensure that their products made their way through the supply chain without any illegal practices. The tagging program was originally developed as a way to monitor inventory, but has quickly evolved into a system for verifying responsible practices. The tagging system involves attaching a barcode to each fish that lets them know which boat it came from, where it was caught and how many fish were caught at the same time.

Future of Fish, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable fishing, states that this type of electronic tagging is crucial for preventing overfishing. It's an easy way to monitor where commercial fishing vessels are obtaining their catches.

Commercial fishermen are often sensitive about sharing information about where they obtained their catches, as these details are treated like trade secrets that make them more competitive. To fix this problem, Norpac encrypts the data so that it is more secure.

For those in the seafood industry who want to make the job of finding legal fisheries easier, it is crucial to ensure that you have the latest fishfinder and chartplotter technology onboard your vessels. You can obtain this equipment for the best prices by shopping at ePal!