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 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!

Boating accident leaves 2 dead on Buckeye Lake

A boating trip to Buckeye Lake, Ohio, turned tragic on March 28 when two boaters were killed after their 16-foot aluminum skiff capsized. While one of the boaters' remains were recovered right after the accident, it took searchers 3 days to find the body of the other passenger.

Gary Cook and Jason Lewis were on the lake at a particularly bad moment, as the water temperature was in the low 40s and wind speeds hit 30 mph. Although the part of the lake where they capsized was relatively shallow — with a depth of 3 feet — it's likely that they develop symptoms of frostbite almost immediately after they fell out of their vessel.

"You've got very cold water and hypothermia sets in very quickly", Andrew Hollenback, Region Manager Division of Watercraft for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, told local news source WBNS-10TV. "Your extremities shut down, your arms shut down, your feet and your legs – that makes holding on to stuff or swimming a lot more difficult."

It took six boats, as well as an aerial search, to find Cook. 

With many parts of the country still experiencing freezing temperatures, rain and snow, it is critical for boaters to exercise good safety practices by equipping their vessels with lifejackets and making sure their engines are in good working order before leaving the dock.

If you're going to be taking out your boat soon, make sure that you have all the marine supplies necessary to make your trip safer. You can find the gear and equipment you need by shopping at ePal. We carry all the best brands and offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states. Browse our site today for the latest deals!

With longer winter, fish may be hard to come by on Lake Michigan

An extended cold weather season has many along the shores of the Great Lakes wondering how it will affect fish stocks in the area. The Detroit News reports that commercial fishers typically begin leaving docks around the first of March to begin their fishing season, but this year they won't be able to get out on the water until the beginning of April.

At the same time, colder weather has possibly delayed the spawning season, which means that fish populations may not begin hatching until June or later. Consequently, catches later in the year may not be as mature as normal.

However, not everyone is pessimistic about how the winter will affect the fish. Harold Bailey, who runs Blue Heron Fishing Charters on Sugar Island in Northern Michigan, thinks that the weather will eventually correct itself and fisherman won't lose much ground.

"Oh, it might put us back a little bit, but I don't think it's going to hurt business too much," Bailey said. "One thing I've learned about the predictability of fish is that they're not predictable."

Those who fish in the lake are hoping that the extreme cold weather will be followed by a faster warming period, which has been known to happen. The species that are most affected by the cold are bluegill and bass.

With fishing expected to be more difficult this season, boaters who still want to have good catches may want to consider installing a fishfinder on their boat. This will make it easier to locate schools, ultimately helping you save time and avoid wandering aimlessly around the lakes looking for fish. You can find the latest fishfinder technology at ePal!

New lake to open in Upper St. Johns Basin

Bass fishers have something to celebrate: A new lake is opening to the public soon in the Upper St. Johns River Basin. The Lawton Recreation Area, named after a famous conservationist who fought for the restoration of the St. Johns River, will cover 14,000 acres and provide two boat launch ramps, along with countless hours of fishing for the area's anglers. reports that the Lawton Recreation Area is part of a massive $250 million project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the St. Johns River Water Management District to restore the Everglades and ensure that the Upper St. Johns Basin continues to be a wildlife refuge.

The project has been in the works for at least 15 years and was delayed in part due to the discovery of a Native American burial ground. It was also delayed as farmland in surrounding areas became available and the waterways had to be rerouted several times. In addition, funding shortages as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had slowed down completion of the project.

One of the goals of the new lake is to stem the flow of freshwater into the Indian River Lagoon. This runoff has been hurting water quality in the lagoon's saltwater estuaries.

If you're a bass fisher and you're thinking about taking your boat out to the Lawton Recreation Area, make sure that it's equipped with the best marine electronics on the market. At ePal, you can find a wide selection of fishfinder systems that will make it easier to find bass. Not only do we have the most affordable prices, we also offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states, so check out our online store today!

5 tips for better docking

If you're a new boat owner or it's been a while since you've piloted your watercraft, you may need a refresher course on how to dock a boat. It's a deceptively challenging task, as you have to learn how to master your boat when it's idling, particularly with wind and current affecting its momentum.

Boating Magazine recently outlined 12 tips that will help you dock your boat more quickly and safely. Here are some of their best pointers:

  • Develop a plan before you approach your parking space. Assign roles to each passenger beforehand so that they can prepare for docking
  • Learn how to do a pivot turn, as this makes it much easier to maneuver in a crowded area where other boats have been docked and are looking for a slip
  • Leave some slack in the ropes when you're tying up your boat. If you make them too tight, the boat could end up hanging from the dock if the tide gets too low
  • Reacquaint yourself with driving your boat in reverse and using this function of your engine to slow down. This will minimize the impact on your bow if you strike the dock
  • The first line to toss onto the dock is your spring line. This should be looped through the cleat before you throw any other ropes.

Properly docking your boat will ensure that the hull, as well as all marine instruments and boat accessories that are exposed on the outside of the hull, will remain intact and undamaged.

At ePal we have a number of marine radio and GPS devices that can make it easier to get in touch with harbormasters so that you can find parking spaces. Make sure to check out our inventory today!

Salmon to be trucked closer to the ocean

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has begun an effort to transplant 30 million salmon from five different hatcheries to waterways that are closer to the ocean. The goal of the program is to save salmon populations, which have become stranded as a result of the drought that has afflicted Northern California this past year.

The fish, which are mostly juvenile salmon with lengths between 3 and 4 inches, are being taken to the Sacramento River, near Rio Vista, California. Once they reach their destination, the fish are siphoned into the water through a hundred foot pipe.

The migrations from warmer waters to the cool ocean are part of the Chinook salmon's growth cycle. By not transporting them, wildlife officials ran the risk of leaving them all victims of predation.

To better understand how this program will actually affect fish, the USFWS tagged about 25 percent. The information from the tag will be used to track the fish for three to four years.

Not only is this all good news for salmon, the efforts are also being welcomed by the fishing community.

"For us in the sport and commercial salmon fishery industry, it means that we should see much better returns of adults in 2016, when these fish are fully grown," John McManus, the executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, told NPR. "We'll have something to harvest."

Drought not only affects fish, it also creates problems for boaters and anglers who will be using the waterways for their hobbies. Lower water levels put their water craft at risk of striking objects on the surface. This is why it is essential to have marine electronics on board, such as a transducer and fishfinder, which can be used to give a detailed picture of the water column underneath the boat. If you're looking to replace your depth reading instruments or install new ones, make sure that you shop with ePal, the leading source for marine equipment!

Area around Tappan Zee Bridge to be closed for construction

The Tappan Zee Bridge, which runs over the Hudson River and connects the rest of the state of New York with Manhattan, will be undergoing a major renovation project over the next four years. As a result, the U.S. Coast Guard will be clearing an area around the bridge called a regulated navigation area (RNA), where boater access will be either restricted or even prohibited over the course of the project.

Local news source reports that Coast Guard officials have blocked off an area 200 yards south and 300 yards north of the bridge that has been declared "no wake," so boaters will be restricted to slow speeds when passing through.

One of the main reasons for the restrictions is that there will be several boats moored in the area that are part of the construction project. With these vehicles sitting still overnight, they present a hazard to other boaters, and are more likely to be damaged if the area isn't restricted.

"The devices themselves, with or without work boats moored to them, can pose a hazard to unwary boaters, especially those going too fast," officials told the source. "In periods of reduced visibility — after dark or when there is fog or heavy rain — the potential hazard from speeding is even greater."

Navigating riverways, whether there's an RNA or not, can be dangerous if your boat is not equipped with the right marine instruments to give you accurate depth readings. Having these tools on board lets you enjoy the ride rather than having to worry about whether you're going to strike objects. Make sure to check out ePal's selection of navigation and communication electronics for marine vehicles!

Inventor develops smooth-riding boat with active suspension system

If you're a boater then you've presumably figured out a way to cope with seasickness. It's something that afflicts a lot of people when they hit the high seas, even in relatively calm waters. While most will only address the problem by swallowing a Benadryl or avoiding boats entirely, one inventor has found a solution that may one day change the way boats are manufactured.

David Hall, CEO of acoustics company Velodyne, has developed an active suspension system that allows for ultra-smooth boat rides, even in choppy waters. The boat he built with the system — called the "Martini 1.5" — uses an unconventional piece of marine electronics in order to avoid bumps from rolling waves: airbag actuators.

Hall's boat can anticipate the movement of waves and adjust the deck's position so that passengers don't feel much of anything. He states that writing the software for the system was very difficult, but so far the results have been promising.

Popular Science states that Hall is able to ride through fairly rough waters at a speed of 30 miles per hour — nearly three times as fast as similar vessels could travel without a suspension system. Hall is hoping that the Martini 1.5 will hit the commercial market within the next year.

While you may not be able to get your hands on a Martini 1.5 for quite a while (and it's undoubtedly going to be expensive), there is a wide variety of boat accessories that can help you navigate treacherous waters and find the safest route to your destination. At ePal, we have a large selection of electronic instruments for boats, so make sure to check out our online store today!