Navigating your boat through locks

With regard to boating, a lock is a restricted section of a waterway or canal where the level of water can be altered through the use of gates or sluices, primarily employed for the purpose of raising and lowering vessels between two gates. But what may be more important than knowing what a lock does is knowing how to navigate them when one comes across your path. 

There are usually several factors to consider when approaching a lock, but once one has a grasp on some of the most basic features, traversing a lock is a simple enough process. Specifically, two of the most pressing elements to consider are speed and space. Currents are hardly ever a problem when in a canal with a lock, but the speed of the current before reaching the canal should be monitored to ensure that your approach isn't too fast.

John Wampler, delivery skipper, tells Boating Magazine that "When a lock blocks the canal, current isn't an issue. But check for current before approaching a lock alongside a dam or spillway."

The narrow space in some waterways means that there is a heightened chance of bumping into a wall or damaging your boat due to carelessness. This is why engaging your vessel's propellers as little as possible and entering as close to the center, especially when navigating narrow and shallow locks, is usually cautioned. Other details to be aware of when navigating a lock is that twin-engine inboard boats may pull the stern toward the walls when the propeller nearest the wall is activated, and vice versa when the propeller is reversed. 

If you'd like to learn more about boating, boat parts and the best boat accessories for your vessel, contact ePal. We have all the products you need at affordable prices.

2 tips for boating under a bridge

With the benefits of technology, navigating through narrow channels and maneuvering across a patch of stormy weather isn't nearly as daunting as it once was centuries ago. We also are fortunate to have maps detailing some of the most minute details of the waters we traverse, making for safer and more surefooted journeys. Nevertheless, some man-made challenges, like bridges, remain tricky to pass by at times, sometimes because of a combination of factors like tall waves and inclement weather. Other times, we are caught unaware that a bridge ever existed and have to do the best we can with the sudden obstruction. 

Here are two useful tips to remember when it's time to pass under a bridge:  

Know the height of the boat: Specifically, it's crucial to know what the height of the boat is with all of the antennas retracted. A good method for estimating how much space your boat needs for bridges in general is using a measuring tape or a marked broom or brush handle while passing under a bridge to measure the amount of space needed to safely clear it. Make sure to leave enough room in case you ever have to make a pass when the water is rough.

Learn the language: Contacting a bridge to confirm the accuracy of clearance boards is a great idea. But the intricacies of bridge slang, such as "low steel," can be simple enough for some to discern intuitively. But for others, the Coast Guard has published a glossary of bridge terms that would be helpful to know if you find yourself trying to make a pass during a stormy or emergency situation. 

If you'd like to learn more boating tips or about what boat accessories or boat parts will best complement your vessel, contact ePal. We have all the products you need at affordable prices.

3 Boat Safety Tips

One of the unfortunate realities about boating is that sometimes accidents happen. What can be most frustrating about those mishaps is that sometimes they are entirely avoidable if safety guidelines are adhered to. That's why there is rarely ever an inappropriate time to stress the importance of safety on the water. 

Here are a few tips for you to remember:

Create a Float Plan: Letting someone who is not going along on a boat trip know all pertinent details is a savvy way of protecting you and your passengers from any unforeseen mishaps. A good float plan will include the names, addresses and contact information of the trip leader and all of the passengers. The boat type and registration information, the trip itinerary and all of the communication and signal equipment available on the vessel are all also crucial pieces of information that would help locate the boat if it becomes damaged or lost. 

Life jackets: Although use of the life jacket is one of the most obvious safety tips, it is also one of the most repeated because of how resistant people can be toward using them. If your hesitancy is due to life jackets being too bulky and uncomfortable, they now come in all kinds of designs intended for an array of activities from water sports to fishing. There are even comfortable life jackets designed for pets.

Use the free safety check: The United States Coast Guard offers complimentary boat examinations to confirm the integrity of your boat and its safety equipment in regard to both state and federal regulations. There are also virtual safety checks available online to use. 

Remember, ePal has all of the boat accessories and marine supplies you'll need to make the most of your time on the water, including safety equipment. Contact us today!

What to look for in transducer frequencies

With the continuous technological advancements of sonar there has also come a drop in prices for such boat accessories as well as a boom in options regarding what kind of equipment is best for your boat and boating activities. A device that once had been used primarily for measuring the depth of the ocean is now deployed for finding fish, creating underwater maps and scanning ocean floors for debris. 

A universal truth about all sonar equipment, whether they are a fishfinder you can carry around or a mapping system that has to be hoisted with a crane, all depend on a quality transducer. Functioning as both a receiver and distributor of information, transducers are either submerged or placed in close proximity to a pond or ocean in order to emit wave signals, which move at predetermined speeds and bounce off of any objects with a density that doesn't match that of the water. 

The typical transducer frequency used for boats that work occasionally on commercial projects or primarily serve recreational purposes moves between 25 and 400KHz, with 200 and 50Khz being the most common levels within that range.

Lower frequencies usually display a stronger penetrating ability through water than higher frequency waves. This is why when trying to decide what transducer frequency you need for your vessel, it's essential to remember that low frequencies around 50KHz are ideal for displaying the wide area of a bottom, especially when the water is deep. Conversely, fishfinders and recorders, are often considered most effective when they come with higher frequencies because of their effectiveness with showing more details in shallow waters. 

If you would like to learn more about what transducer frequency would work best for your boat and about other boat accessories that would complement your vessel, contact ePal today. We have everything you need at affordable prices. 

3 tips on how to maintain your boat

With the summer winding down, now may not seem like the opportune period to conduct maintenance on your boat as the more time you spend working on it, the less time you have to enjoy it. However, now is a great time to start thinking about what improvements to make, especially the ones that can be completed with a modest amount of effort. At the very least, you'll have fewer kinks to work out on the other side of winter when its time to bring the boat back out again. 

Here are three tips: 

Keep your trailer in action: If your trailer only gets used for the launching in the spring and the hauling in the fall, it's a good idea to move it around a few feet just to prevent its bearings from becoming stuck. An alternative to that idea would be to jack the trailer up and spin its wheels for a few minutes.

Let your engine breathe: If you've had some stalling issues, a good trick to try is opening up your fuel fill cap and letting the boat run on a day when there is no precipitation. It's important to keep water out of the vent. If the stalling issues stop then you most likely have a clogged fuel vent that needs to be cleaned.

Spray your engine: There are myriad lubricants you can use to lather your engine's blocks and heads to prevent a build up of dirt. For the sake of maintaining quality performance, spray down the engine at least twice during the colder months. Even if it doesn't prevent something going wrong with the engine, having the parts kept in good condition will make repairing anything that's gone wrong easier than if you hadn't. 

If you like to learn more about how to maintain your boat parts and what boat accessories will help you do that, contact ePal. We have all the products you need at affordable prices. 

Troubleshooting tips for your boat

In an earlier post we mentioned how the stress of uncertainty can be overwhelming when your boat malfunctions on the water and you don't know what to do, even if you have an idea of what may be wrong. Sometimes having a few troubleshooting tips to fall back on can offer just the relief you need to manage the situation efficiently. 

Here are two troubleshooting suggestions:

The suddenly silent engine: When an engine stops operating suddenly, one of the most typical causes is the failure of a primer bulb. When a vacuum happens inside of a boat's fuel tank, the fuel supply to the engine is cut off, resulting in a collapsed primer bulb and a silent motor. To remedy this issue, unscrew the vent to create some air flow through the engine and pump the primer bulb until it becomes hard again. 

Another time when a simple solution may be all you need for a dead motor is when the kill switch has been accidentally flipped. It's a mishap that's easy to overlook. But if you're on the water and it suddenly comes to mind that disengaging the kill switch may be the answer to your problems, you may end up saving yourself a lot of time and worry. 

The off-kilter propeller: Often, a malfunctioning boat is due to debris. That has been the case with propellers frequently enough to mention it as a possibility here. Firstly, turn the engine off and see if any foreign objects can be removed from the blades and shaft and try the engine again. 

Secondly, if the clearing away of debris doesn't fix the issue, inspect your propeller's shear pin. If it's broken it will have to be replaced. 

If you're interested in learning about some of the best marine accessories that would complement your boat as well as how to troubleshoot unexpected issues, ePal has everything you need and more. Contact us today!

What to do with an overheating outboard motor

There are few experiences in life that are more stressful than having your boat give out on you when you're trying to enjoy a day on the water. Along with the anxiety that may come with the uncertainty of what the nature of the breakdown may be, there are often also questions about how much it will eventually cost to correct the problem. Sometimes there are issues that can only be fixed with the assistance of a trained professional. But occasionally, having a few troubleshooting techniques memorized can be a great help in repairing a defect or, at least, alleviating some of the stress that may come with it. 

Here is a tip on how to handle a common enough malfunction:

The Overheating Outboard Motor

The constant flow of water through the engine is how outboard motors remain cool. Often enough, if the outboard motor has become overheated, the issue lies with a lack of adequate water flow. The first step is to shut down the engine and make sure that there is no blockage due to foreign objects like weeds or man-made debris. Another threat to water flow could be a defective water pump impeller, a round disc with blades that keeps the water in circulation.

If the water pump impeller is broken it will likely have to be replaced. However, if the outboard motor has overheated because it was clogged, giving the engine a few minutes to cool down after you've cleared away any obstructions may be all that is necessary to get your boat cruising again. 

If you find yourself in need of a new water pump impeller or any other boat parts, or are simply interested in learning about the best boat accessories for your vessel, contact ePal! We have all the dependable products at affordable prices that you need.

Labor Day weekend safety tips

With Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, it's important to match our enthusiasm for getting out on the water with an understanding of safety measures. Drowning is America's second leading cause of accidental deaths. An overwhelming majority of those fatalities could have been avoided if the victims had only been wearing life jackets. It's also important to be mindful of where any children may be. A child can drown in only 20 seconds, and many fatalities take place when a victim is less than 10 feet from safety because nobody knew of there whereabouts.

Being alert is key in avoiding tragedies and property damage this weekend. That's why drinking and driving a boat don't mix. Along with the increased risk of injuries and collisions, excessive alcohol consumption on a hot day could also result in a sunburn over even sun poisoning. Using a designated driver is one of the best decisions you can make, especially since alcohol stands as the primary contributor to most boating deaths, according to the Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety. 

One of the trickiest hazards to be aware of comes from the boats themselves. Carbon monoxide emissions from the engines can accumulate around the boat. Early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness, eye irritation and headaches. Make sure that your carbon monoxide detector is functioning before taking your boat out and maintaining good air circulation will minimize the threat of carbon monoxide sickness. 

Another smart practice includes following the weather forecast regularly as the weekend approaches to remain aware of any warnings regarding dangerous conditions. Otherwise, we hope your Labor Day weekend on the water is a fabulous one. 

If you need any new boat parts or boat accessories before you ship off for the weekend, contact ePal! We have all the dependable products you need and provide them at affordable prices. 

Peer-to-peer boat sharing (Part 2)

In an earlier post, we discussed the growth of peer-to-peer boat sharing initiatives. Some companies who facilitate exchanges between boat owners and consumers have released statistics outlining their managing of thousands of boats stationed throughout hundreds of American cities. Other organizations have boasted figures of overseeing more than 10,000 boats stationed throughout 52 countries. 

It's still too early to determine how successful of an enterprise peer-to-peer boat sharing will become. Nevertheless, the costs of maintaining, stationing and insuring a boat stands out as one of the leading motivators for the industry, according to Trade Only Today. Peer-to-peer sharing allows boat owners to offset some of those costs. This is why, with the boating industry earning $35 billion yearly and serving a market where 75 percent of all boat owners earn less than $100,000 annually, the potential for peer-to-peer boat sharing is evident. 

One of the obvious benefits of partnering with a p2p platform is that many of them supply insurance offerings. Shawn Gardner, co-founder and CEO of Fun2rent.com, says that peer-to-peer organizations often provide better insurance options on account of typical rental companies not having the inventory to provide coverage on something like hull damage. 

"When you rent from these private rental companies, if you total the boat it's coming out of your paycheck," Gardner says. "We have better rental insurance than most of the companies out there."

Other incentives include no membership fees, simple boat listings, total autonomy over who rents your vessel and when it is rented and access to an entire boating community that has no geographic limitations. 

The future of p2p boat sharing may be uncertain but you can certainly contact ePal about the best boat parts and boat accessories today. We have all of the products you need. 

Peer-to-peer boat sharing (Part 1)

The internet has been a life-changing tool for all humanity, affecting everything from the way we learn and shop to how we do business and entertain ourselves. Perhaps one of the most controversial elements of the World Wide Web is how accessible it's made us to each other. Social media platforms have given us a chance to connect with long lost friends from our youth but they've also been the source of heated debates over privacy issues and concerns about information security. 

New business initiatives like crowdsourcing for information and crowdfunding for financial support have also risen from this new accessibility. We're now able to utilize peer-to-peer initiatives through our smartphones and find a stranger willing to loan their car or use it to taxi us around town. That's why it was only a matter of time before technology caught up with the way we use our boats. 

According to statistics provided by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), a boat owner's vessel can sit unused for roughly 339 days annually, while still incurring insurance, maintenance and storage fees along with other expenses. According to a Trade Only Today article, this is the condition that has led to the rise of a handful of companies who facilitate peer-to-peer boat sharing initiatives. 

Requirements to engage this service often mean completing questionnaires, affidavits and possessing a minimum of two years of boating experience, although the requisites vary among the different organizations. Fraud protection checks are utilized as well as this is a relatively new enterprise that carries uncertainties along with its potential benefits.

Ultimately, whether a boat is used in a peer-to-peer boat sharing service is up to the owner. Nevertheless, if you're an owner looking to improve your vessel with the best boat accessories and boat parts, contact ePal today for all the products you need!