Sailboats damaged, unmoored by high-speed winds

Two boats that were moored off the shores of South San Francisco came unattached from their anchors on March 12 and ended up crashing into the rocks on the beach. CBS San Francisco reports that the vessels, both of which were unmanned sailboats, became unmoored due to high-speed winds, which have been bombarding the Bay Area for several days.

It's currently unclear who the boats belong too, as the City of South San Francisco stated they had been keeping an eye on them in case they turned out to be abandoned. However, the boat's owners were occasionally spotted occupying the boats.

The U.S. Coast Guard stated that the boat's owners would need to hire a salvage company to have them removed from the rocks. They also reported that there was no pollution released into nearby waters as a result of the unmoorings.

Boats tend to spend quite a bit of time moored offshore in the winter months, when it's too cold for anyone to consider taking their vessel for a ride. If you own a boat and keep it on the water in winter, it's important to make sure that the sheets you use to keep it tied to the anchor are in good shape. Additionally, you should routinely check on it to make sure it remains anchored, particularly on days with bad weather.

Sometimes accidents like this are unavoidable. If you're concerned that your boat could one day become lost, you may want to consider installing a marine GPS tracking system from ePal onboard that can help you locate it. That way, if it comes unmoored and floats out to sea, you'll still be able to find it fairly easily.

More retirees flocking to boats

While retirement is always associated with a lifestyle of recreation and exploration, some retirees are taking this more literally than others. The Dallas Morning News recently detailed the adventures and lives of baby boomer retirees who have set sail for Mexico, both for the fun of it and because doing so saves them quite a bit in taxes and other expenses.

Living on a boat means not having a mortgage payment, and it also means not having to pay property taxes. This is especially the case in Mexico, where the cost of living is far lower than it is in the United States. For someone on a fixed income, that's an appealing proposition.

Retiring to boats is nothing new, but the source states that it will become a major trend in the next few years, with boating industry observers predicting that ownership will jump from 10 million to 17 million.

Something that boaters should realize, however, is that undertaking a voyage to Mexico — or anywhere more than a few miles from home — requires a wealth of boating knowledge. It's also much easier to accomplish if you have a chartplotter, GPS, radio and other essential marine accessories that can help you navigate unfamiliar waters.

If you're considering retiring and living on your boat, we highly recommend browsing the extensive inventory of marine technology at ePal. We have all the tools you'll need to make sure that your oceanic retirement is both safe and fun. Whether you'll be on a high-powered yacht or a small sailboat, your best resource for equipment and supplies is ePal.

Boating accident in San Dimas, California leaves one dead

The fifth annual Lake Puddingstone Sprint Boat Races in San Dimas, California, ended in tragedy on March 8 when a 64-year-old boater was killed in a speedboat collision. Gregory Belda was racing his boat when it was hit from behind by one of his competitors. The driver of the other boat was taken to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

Local news source The Daily Bulletin reports that the Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division is still investigating the accident. It was the 15th watercraft-related fatality at Lake Puddingstone since 1968. The most recent took place in 2011 when three women were killed riding jet skis.

"They went into a corner," Ted Kolby, a participant in the event, told CBS Los Angeles. "They were three wide, a warm up lap. They weren't going real fast. The middle boat made a 90-degree turn. We don't know if the steering broke off [or] what happened. And the boat that was on the inside, ran over him."

Water sports can be incredibly dangerous, and boaters who take to the water, particularly when they'll be racing high speed vessels, should ensure that their vehicles have the marine equipment they need to keep all passengers safe. This includes life vests and radios that can be used to communicate with other boaters nearby.

If you need to stock your boat with the latest communication and navigational technology available, your best source for these items is ePal. Make sure to browse our enormous selection of high quality, reliable marine supplies. If you have any questions about these products, our customer service representatives will be happy to help you find answers. Give us a call today at (877) 245-8649!

California drought affecting boating industry

California is currently facing one of its worst droughts in recorded history, and the damage has extended from the state's drinking water supply to its boating industry. Many communities are under threat of having their water rationed and several reservoirs, lakes and ponds have seen their shorelines shrink. The latter situation has made things difficult for recreational boaters, some of whom have slips that are resting on dry ground.

A series of storms over the past two weeks failed to rectify the situation completely. Trade Only Today, a boating industry news resource, reports that marine professionals believe the recent rainfall has only "slightly" improved the state's water situation. Folsom Lake, located in Northern California, is at about 36 percent capacity, according to the Sacramento Bee. Overall precipitation for the season is 38 percent of normal.

It doesn't appear that much relief is on the way. The Sacramento area is expecting some rainfall for the next day or two, but after that things will be sunny and warm for the foreseeable future.

Something to keep in mind if you're a freshwater boater is that with water levels so low, there's a greater likelihood that your vessel could strike underwater objects. While most boaters will likely rely on their eyesight to spot such obstructions, there are times when these hazards will be virtually invisible above water.

The best way to avoid any damage to your hull is to make sure your boat is equipped with a transducer. These marine instruments are an invaluable tool for making sure that you don't strike any objects and your boat remains afloat. For the latest in transducer technology, browse ePal's selection of marine electronics today!

Rules for boating with kids off the coast of Florida

No matter how old the crew of your vessel is, you need to make sure safety is a top priority. But this is especially true when you invite your kids aboard. You may think they are capable of taking on many of the responsibilities of a seasoned sailor, but you could not only be putting them in significant harm when you tackle such an endeavor, you may also be breaking the law.

One of the most popular parts of the country for boating is Southwest Florida, where family boating adventures into the Gulf are by far the favorite pastimes for many families. In fact, some parents think that because their kids have been spending summers on board the family boat, these children are equipped to take the wheel. This is not the case, however, as Florida law stipulates that any individual under 26-years-old must have taken a boating safety course certified by the state and carry a picture ID. That means that your son or daughter who doesn't even have a license to operate a vehicle ion the road has no business operating a boat.

There are other important laws one must follow if they are voting in the Sunshine State when hitting the high seas. For instance, no child under the age of six can be on a vessel less than 26 feet in length unless they have a life jacket on. 

Other precautions aren't so much legally binding but instead rules of the sea any responsible boater must apply. For instance, never dive from a boat that is anchored in less than nine feet of water, even if it's a small child jumping ship. It would also be beneficial to equip your boat with a fishfinder, chartplotter and other boat accessories that not only map out your course above the waterline but also beneath your hull.

Focus on cleaning your boat when removing it from storage

While much of the country remains plagued by record-cold temperatures and weather patterns that are less-than-friendly to boaters, the clock is close to winding down to the official start of sailing season. This means that if you are planning on putting your vessel in the water this spring or summer, you no longer have time to wait to prepare your boat if its been sitting in storage all winter long.

If you kept your boat in a storage unit, you need to be thorough about giving it a thorough cleaning. This is especially true if you allowed your boat to sit outdoors all winter, even if you did wash every square inch of your boat before packing it up for the season. For instance, if you use bottom paints for your boat, now is the best time to apply a fresh coat to keep slime and barnacles from accumulating on the hull. 

This is especially true for wooden boats, which are susceptible to rot and other damage along the water line even when they aren't submerged. Closely inspect your hull in the transom and under decks that might have retained moisture over the winter months and alleviate even the slightest signs of damage before taking to the high seas.

Other basic tasks to knock off your checklist are a thorough polish of all bright work on your vessel, replacement of aged hull zincs, greasing winches and lubricating the anchor windlass. 

This is also a great time to consider investing in new boat accessories to make the upcoming season your most enjoyable and successful one yet. Whether that entails buying a new chartplotter or marine GPS, any "gift" for your vessel will only make the season more enjoyable.

Over 500 containers lost at sea after ship encounters violent weather, waves

A large shipping freighter lost over 500 containers at sea when it was bombarded by 30-foot waves and 60-knot winds off the Atlantic coast of Europe. The Svendborg, owned by The Maersk Group, was traveling from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Sri Lanka via the Suez Canal. It is currently docked at the Bay of Biscay, where its owners are trying to calculate the total damage and losses.

There is no current requirement by any international organizations for ships to declare losses at sea, so no one is entirely sure how often such incidents take place. However, CNN reports that The Through Transport Club, a shipping insurance company, estimates that about 2000 containers are lost every year.

Many environmental groups are concerned that these losses can have a traumatic impact on wildlife populations, not to mention fishing vessels and other boats. Containers typically sink as soon as they hit the water, but Robin des Bois, a French environmental advocacy organization, says that some refrigerated containers could stay afloat for months.

Given how little we know about how frequently these types of incidents occur, it is critical for boaters to ensure that their vessels are equipped with communication and navigational tools that will help them identify hazards before it's too late. Having a marine transducer, chartplotter and marine GPS on board can be a lifesaver for anticipating violent weather, as well as for catching underwater obstructions before they damage your hull.

At ePal, you'll find an enormous selection of these items at discount prices. We also offer free shipping on all U.S. orders, so you can rest assured that the price you're being quoted is what you'll pay. For more information, check out our online store today!

How do marine transducers work?

Having a marine transducer can be a huge help when your boating in unfamiliar waters, but many sailors, fishermen and other marine professionals don't actually know how these devices work. Before you purchase any marine equipment, it's a good idea to learn the basic function of the device and how it can make your life easier, so that you make a more informed decision about which transducer is right for you.

Inside each transducer is a small object called a piezoceramic disc, also referred to as an element. The boat will apply electric voltage to the element, causing it to vibrate at a particular frequency. Those vibrations create sound pressure waves, which are sent through the water in a cone-shaped beacon. As the waves travel through the ocean, they'll hit objects such as a fish or a rock on the bottom of the ocean and either reflect back to the boat or be scattered off into the water.

The sound waves that get back to the boat can cause small distortions in the shape of the element, thus affecting the voltage that is being applied to it. The transducer can interpret these voltages to determine the shape and size of the objects that the sound waves hit when they were reflected back to the hull of the ship. Your transducer judges depths by calculating the amount of time it took for the sound waves to leave and return back to the boat.

While there is a great variety of transducers available from companies such as Raymarine, Garmin and Furuno, at a basic level this is how they all operate. To find out more about the capabilities that a transducer provides its user, check out ePal's inventory today!

A brief guide to picking boating shoes

Perhaps one of the least discussed boat accessories is footwear, but don't let that fool you: Choosing the right pair of shoes for your boating adventures, whether you're a recreational sailor or a commercial fisherman, is crucial. Yet many boaters will leave shore in a pair of shoes that aren't meant for the conditions they'll be dealing with at sea or on the lake. This not only will make the experience more difficult but it could also make it more dangerous.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a pair of boating shoes:

  • Accessibility: Sometimes you need to be able to slip your feet into your shoes immediately in case of emergencies. 
  • Drainage: Your shoes are going to get wet. The trick isn't so much to find a pair of shoes that keep your feet completely dry, but to find a pair that drains well enough so that it doesn't feel like you're in a puddle with each step.
  • Dry Time: This is more of a consideration if you're on your boat every day, but it's important to have a pair of shoes that can dry out in a couple of hours.
  • Traction: Slipping and falling on your boat, particularly if you're dealing with rough seas or poor weather, can be dangerous. Your boat shoes should have superb traction so that you can move quickly across your deck without fear of losing your balance and footing.

At ePal we carry a wide selection of boat parts, accessories and apparel that will make your voyages more enjoyable and safer. Not only do we have the best prices, we also offer free shipping on all U.S. sales, as well as flat rates for expedited shipping. Check out our site today!

Louisiana experiences record low boating deaths in 2013

Louisiana set a record for the lowest number of boating deaths in a year in 2013, experiencing only 13 total. Considering that the state has had an average of 25 boating deaths per year since 2010, this is a remarkable achievement.

The Associated Press reports that the previous low was 19, set in 1992. The all-time high is 79 in 1974.

The data, which was provided by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' Enforcement Division's Boating Safety Program, is good news for the boating industry in the Bayou State, given the thousands of citizens who pilot boats on a daily basis. The Department is crediting the improved safety conditions to mandatory boat education courses that are required for anyone born after January 1, 1984.

In order to continue this trend of improved safety, it's important for boaters to avail themselves of communications and navigation technology that makes it much easier to identify nearby vessels and avoid collisions. Some of the equipment that every boater should have on board before they leave the dock includes:

  • Marine VHF: In order to communicate with emergency personnel on land, it's important for boaters to have a marine radio that puts out a strong signal. Cell phones are often inadequate, particularly when you're on a large body of water.
  • Transducers: Avoiding collisions with underwater obstacles is much easier if you have a transducer that can provide accurate readings of the surface underneath your boat.

If you're looking to add these items to your equipment inventory, or you need to replace the ones you have, your best source for marine equipment is ePal!