What to do when your boat is sinking

The subject of a boat sinking often goes overlooked because of the common assumption that a boat sinking is a rare event or the consequence of recklessness or negligence. Sometimes this is the case. But inclement weather, malfunctioning parts or a poorly designed vessel also frequently contribute to a boat going under. Aside from the headaches even the thought of such a mishap can cause, especially when one thinks about the fuel or oil pollution fines that may be heaped on top of the property loss, what's most important is knowing what to do in the event of such a disaster. 

Here are a pair of tips: 

Find the leak: Once you find the leak, you can try to plug it with balled up clothes, boots or anything else that may fit to stem the flow. Also, moving as many items and people as possible to the opposite side of the boat will help slow the leak as well, even if the boat doesn't tip enough for the hole to clear the water.

Put on the life jackets and make a mayday call: This seems like a common sense piece of advice but scary situations often produce bizarre and panicky behavior. Perhaps the greatest counsel anybody could offer for such a tense moment is to breathe deeply and maintain your calm. But hailing the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16 to provide your location and the number of people aboard along with preparing for the inevitability of being immersed in water are crucial as well. Also, don't forget the ditch bag you use to store signal flares, a waterproof handheld VHF and a personal beacon locator. 

Also, if you're looking to learn about what marine accessories would best serve you in such an unfortunate situation and advice on the most dependable boat parts for your vessel, ePal has everything you need and more. Contact us today!

3 tips on how to release a fish

Catch and release has become a more popular practice with fishing for a number of reasons. Some species are required by law to be returned to the water, some release fish in the interest of conservation and others simply refuse to kill something they won't eat. Nonetheless, knowing how to release a fish properly is most important, otherwise the fish may end up dying anyway. 

Here are three tips on how to safely release a fish back to the water: 

Handle with care: Cradling a fish by its lip puts stress on its jaw and internal organs. Also the gills of a fish are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged. Holding it horizontally and keeping your hands around the lower jaw area or the belly are the best ways to prevent injury.

Land the fish quickly: Exhaustion is one of the most crucial factors regarding a fish's survival. Also, the energy level of a fish especially becomes unpredictable during warm weather when higher-temperature water means lower dissolved oxygen levels for the fish to rely on, resulting in quicker and more intense incidents of stress and fatigue for the fish. Ending the fight as quickly as possible elevates the chances of survival significantly. 

Mind the hook: Barbless hooks are ideal when planning on throwing fish back as they are easier to remove and minimize the chances of punctured fingers during the process. Long-nose pliers are also a handy tool for smooth removals. Another trick that can be used is holding the fish upside-down which sometimes helps pacify it and reduce the overall time needed to remove the hook.   

Also, if you're looking for a fishfinder or any other fishing boat accessories, visit ePal Inc. today!

A pair of tips on how to dock a boat

Docking a boat is nothing like parking a car for a number of reasons. Paved roads don't rock and an unexpected gust of wind isn't likely to twist your SUV a few inches to the right or left while you try to squeeze into a spot that is at times not much bigger than the vehicle itself. But, with docking a boat, the weather, the type of dock, marine electronics and even the number of engines involved can influence how smoothly or how clumsily a boat is docked.

That's why we'd like to offer a couple of tips to remember:

Speed: The golden rule with docking can't be overstated: Never approach the dock at a speed greater than what you'd be willing to use to hit it. Lower speeds mean less water flowing through the rudders, which will only benefit your steering, allowing you to accomplish sharper turns and achieve desired angles of approach. Solid docking means sustained periods of coasting, interrupted by the occasional fuel-injected burst to maintain momentum into a clean position. But familiarity with your boat and practice are the only guaranteed ways to learn when to inject that sudden thrust of speed. 

Wind: Firstly, be aware of your sails. An unattended sail while trying to dock in heavy winds can throw you way off your bearings and significantly increase the difficulty of a successful dock. Also, finding the most appropriate angle may never be more important in docking than when it comes to dealing with the wind. An approach aimed to cut the current that's trying to blow you away from the pier can lead to success just as paralleling yourself to the dock and allowing the wind to do a bulk of the work can.

Also, if you're looking for any boat accessories for after you've gotten it safely docked, ePal has all of the products you need. Contact us today!

Police cracking down on drunk boating

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 62 boating deaths occurred in 2013. With alcohol being suspected to have played a role in many of the incidents, and some of them having a high profile nature, Florida law enforcement has begun addressing safe boat driving concerns more aggressively, especially in regard to people operating a boat while drinking alcohol. This past Sunday, August 10, the Miami-Dade Police Department's Marine Patrol was out on the waters testing anyone who was suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance. 

"The word will get out that we're going to stop you," Lupo Jimenez with the Miami-Dade Police Department told CBS Miami. "If you've been drinking and you're operating a boat, we're going to handle it the same way we would handle a DUI." 

The police believe that there presence on the water alone is enough to deter irresponsible behavior. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission confirmed for Miami's CBS local that they are still investigating this year's most deadly boating crash to date, resulting in the death's of the operator and three others after Independence Day fireworks. The operator's blood alcohol level has not been released but it is widely suspected that he had been driving while intoxicated. And just a week ago, a father of four died when his boat crashed into a pier at Pelican Harbor. 

Along with looking to protect drivers from themselves, a heightened presence of police on the waters will provide extra comfort to families with children who are looking to avoid anybody riding while under the influence.

Staying safe should be everyone's top priority while enjoying your time on the water. And, as always, for any of your boating and boat accessory needs, contact ePal Inc. Our array of products, and knowledgeable customer service, are just what you're looking for to enjoy the rest of this summer.

Teachers teach math through boat-building

When thinking about possible summer school assignments, working on a boat at a country club probably wouldn't instinctively rank high on your list. But two teachers from Hamden Middle School of Hamden, Connecticut, have found a way to create a harmonious union between boating and math lessons.

Andrew Marzano, an eighth-grade science teacher, and Frank Kachmar, a technology teacher, have teamed up to educate eighth-grade students on math and science skills by helping them build a sailboat. Marzano said that the idea of combining boat-building with math and science lessons came to him after watching people build boats at Connecticut's Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the world. 

The three-week program was designed to meet the needs of students who have faced challenges with math and science and incorporates principles about angles, measurements and adding and subtracting fractions into the curriculum. According to the New Hampshire register, Marazano especially sees value in the boat-building initiative because it "really incorporates math, science, history and English." 

Marazono also enjoys seeing students who "work better with their hands, rather than a pencil and notebook" making the connections between math and building boats, and growing excited about the two as the project continues.

"They start to see it's not just a hammer and nails, but that it's actually something functional," Marzano said.

Michael Cox, one of the students in the program, expressed his enthusiasm for building the boats, specifically when learning how to measure the seats properly. 

If building an entire boat is a little more work than you're looking to do, maybe finding some high quality boat accessories like a handheld marine gps are more your speed. These products an more are available through ePal Inc. at great prices. Contact us today!

3 tips for safer boating with pets

There is still a good amount of time left in the summer for boating adventures. And it's never a bad time to consider the best ways to share those rides with your pets. Boating with a furry friend can be a great bonding experience, especially when you plan ahead for any complications that may arise. So here are a few tips to help minimize the challenges that come with bringing a four-legged loved one aboard:

Adjusting to the Boat: As it goes with most pets and new items, especially young pets, incrementally introducing them to the boat and water is best. Letting him or her run around the deck while the boat is docked or just turning on the engine so your pet can acclimate to its sounds and smells are great for helping your pet learn to love the experience naturally. A few small cruises to fully introduce the pet to the riding experience would ensure that a lengthy ride in the future would go smoother.  

Flotation Devices: Even if your pet is a good swimmer, falling into water unexpectedly, as dogs occasionally do when trying to leap from a boat to the dock, can throw anyone into a panic. A pet life jacket is, at least, a great way to protect your pet from his or her own clumsiness. 

Using the bathroom: Creating a space for your pet to use the bathroom may be one of the most daunting challenges. Cats are relatively easier, as a litter box can fit in most areas, but dogs can prove to be a little more complicated. If there are no planned stops on land for the dog to go ashore and handle his or her business, then a portable dog potty may be your best bet.

And if you're looking for any boat accessories or other products, visit ePal Inc. today!

Top 3 boat accessories for wake boarders

In yesterday's blog, we talked all about how to install your very own wakeboard tower. These structures make spending the day on the lake or on the ocean even more fun because towing becomes easier, safer and more exciting. For serious wake riders, a tower is a must-have boat accessory. But did you know that these towers have additional accessories of their own?

Here are a few of our favorite wakeboard tower accessories:

Bimini - This bit of shade on cloudless days will save you from cooking in the sun all day long. Don't underestimate how much being on the water, exposed to the elements and riding the wake can take out of you. Sometimes it's nice to have a spot where you can cool off, wind down and get out of the sun for a few. A bimini top is the perfect solution. This accessory can be custom fit to your boat for decreased wind resistance and reduce the number of moving parts on your tower. We recommend the bimini tops from Dallas Manufacturing and the storage packs from Kwik Tek for the ultimate experience.

Camera Mount – What's better than being able to catch some sweet shots or video of your day on the water? Whether you are opting for a waterproof version of your everyday camera or going for those wild GoPro angles having a sturdy mount for optimal picture taking is a great idea! RAM has some great inexpensive options, while PanaVise has some super durable, customizable units.

Gear rack -Being able to get your gear out of your boat and out of the way is always a bonus; especially when it can be as big and clunky as wakeboards and boots. Try installing a gear rack for your wakeboard tower for the best storage for all your riding needs.

For more information on products or boat accessories, visit ePal Inc. today!

How to install a wakeboard tower

With about a month of summer left, making the most of your time on the water is key to soaking up as much sun as possible. For motor boat owners, water skiing, tubing and wakeboarding are often a way to get the whole family involved in outdoor fun. But what if your boat is not equipped with a wakeboard tower to enjoy this summer sport?

The solution is simple: Install a sturdy and safe wakeboard tower. But how do you do that? We are here to help:

  • Center - The key to your wakeboard tower is that it is centered level over the middle of your boat. The best way to set the location of the unit is to wrap thick rags around the mounting bases and arch so that if it does come in contact with your boat, it won't scratch the paint or surface. 
  • Connect - Boating Magazine explains "Mounting points are forward on the bow cockpit gunwales ahead of the windshield and on the gunwales aft of the helm seats. First determine the aft points. Assemble the rear legs to the top section to form an arch. Snug up the bolts to hold the arch's shape. Put anti-seize on the threads to make tightening easier and reduce wear."
  • Secure - Depending on the unit that you purchase, the specifications for where the legs and arch should sit will change. The best way to ensure the stability of your tower is to follow instructions and enlist the help of a few friends. When you first assemble it, the tower will be wobbly and difficult to erect on your own, so you will want the extra pair of hands.

Once you have your tower installed, the fun can begin! Be sure that you have the best gear and boat accessories for your waterborne adventure. Rave offers a great selection of boots and boards, while AIRHEAD will have you covered on tow lines and handles. These brands and their products are available through ePal Inc. at considerable discounts. For more information or any product-related questions, contact us today!

3 must-have boating apps

While fishing is one of the oldest careers for coastal residents, the ways that people boat nowadays could not be more different from days of yore. With new developments and technologies being created all the time, there are so many great gadgets and devices to employ aboard your vessel.

For on-the-go boaters, sometimes the best technology is the gear that you can have on your person at all times. In the digital age, this translates to apps that are downloadable to your phone or tablet. The primary consideration for this type of tech is that these apps can eat up battery life. With most waterproof cases not able to accommodate for watertight charging it is a risk to take these gadgets on the water.

But if you are willing to risk it, here are a few of the top boating apps according to Boating Magazine:

- Garmin BlueChart Mobile – According to Boating Mag, this app was the easiest to learn for new users. This app allows Apple customers to plan routes and waypoints in the same way they would on their chartplotter. Users can access weather conditions, temperatures, radar and cloud cover overlaid on chart data, dewpoints and directions right on their iPhone, iPad or iPod. Consumers can create and plan their boating trip from the comfort of their homes then seamlessly and wirelessly transfer their plans and information to their traditional chartplotter once aboard their boat.

Navionics Boating - The mobile adaptation of the technology that is available through chartplotters and fishfinders – like those in the Elite-7 line from Lowrance – the Navionics Boating App is a free download that allows you to customize its capabilities through in-app purchases. In other words, you buy the chart coverage you want after downloading, allowing you to navigate anywhere in the world. Without any upgrades, the free app gives users track recording, tide data, wind forecasts, community edits to chart information, social media sharing, backup for valuable markers, routes, photos and videos, according to Navionics. It is compatible with Apple and Android.

- Skipper - This is the cheapest of the apps that was tested by Boating Mag's Randy Vance. Offering the options of a free app or a $10 per year subscription, this mobile app allows users to download maps and charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and set waypoints with a drag-and-drop feature on the touch screen. According to Vance, "We especially liked that the trip monitor bar at the bottom of the screen can be customized to display a variety of essential navigation data, such as course, heading, speed, current speed, ETA, position, etc. Google satellite maps are overlaid on raster charts, providing the user with a landlubber's detail in addition to all the nautical navigation information."

The great thing about these technologies is that they are accessible and usable for any type of boater. While Skipper is just for mobile devices, it is a great, cheap option to have in addition to a traditional marine GPS or chartplotting device. Meanwhile, the Garmin and Navionics options work well with traditional units and allow users to integrate the two for at home and onboard use.

If you are interested in investing in high-end boat accessories, visit ShopEpal.com today. Our knowledgeable staff can help answer any product questions you have and assist you in finding the materials that will create the best boating experience.

Top products for 2014

Boating, fishing and relaxing are some of America's most favorite pastimes. But as America has developed, so has the way that people enjoy their time on the water. What used to be rowing, or sailing, now is motoring around waterways. What most boaters have in common is that they love to have the latest and greatest technology that affords them complete control and knowledge of their surroundings while on the water.

The problem is that many of these tech-hungry seafarers simply do not know where to start when it comes to purchasing new equipment, and what new developments are worthy of purchase.

Fortunately, each year Boating Industry puts out a comprehensive list of items that they deem to be the 'Top Products.' This year's list compiles technology from computer software, to onboard cleaning supplies and everything in between. According to the list, each product was chosen based on a number of factors, including impact to the industry, innovation and how they advance their category – or create new categories.

If you are looking to purchase some of the best new innovations in marine equipment, here are a few ideas:

- Engine - The Volvo Penta D11 series is a new line of diesel engines offered by the notorious car company in conjunction with their marine-focused partner company. This series is offered in three power classes and offer consumers more powerful torque, increased ease of driv‚Äčeability and quieter noise emission than other models.

- Floors - Often overlooked as a key aesthetic element, floors are an important aspect for functionality and looks. Make sure they look their best by leveling and sealing them. With Interlux Interior Floor system, Boating Industry suggests that you will not need floating wood floors or self-leveling products anymore. You can even walk on this in the same day you apply it, which makes this an easy weekend project.

- Outboards - This list generated a lot of talk about different engine options that consumers had for their boats. Included by Boating Industry was the Yamaha F115 Outboard, for its power, lightness and compact build. The list also included two Suzuki models that are the lightest in their respective classes, which makes them great options for smaller vessels whose skippers are looking for increased maneuverability on the water.

- Quick Fixes – The only product to make the list in this category is called MagicEzy. According to Boating Industry, the "structural-grade nano-binder and sealant that seals and colors hairline damage in one application without the need to perform any pre-repair sanding or grinding. The low-viscosity solution enables it to penetrate deeply throughout the entire hairline crack and not only seal it, but also strongly bond the surfaces together."

- Vessel Tech – One of the coolest bits of technology that was recognized on this list was the Scout/Garmin/Mastervolt integrated vessel technology. The three companies have collaborated and come together to create an onboard system that integrates all the necessary components to operate a safe and efficient boat. Perfect for a professional boater, this software allows for complete control over circuits and systems through touch-screen technology. It allows for complete control over boat lighting and bait levels for fishermen. 

Many of these products are new on the market this year and have revolutionized the world of boating. Industry leaders work to make your experience on the water better with each new development. If you are interested in investing in new products, or you have questions about any of those listed above, visit ShopEpal.com. We are happy to assist you in getting top-of-the-line products that will make relaxing, fishing and enjoying time on the water even easier.