What is DownScan Imaging?

Fishing is a favorite American pastime and for many it is a lifestyle and a means of income. For both recreational and commercial boating vessels, making sure that you have the appropriate gear and technology on board to make your time on the water as enjoyable and effective as possible.

A key piece of technology to implement on your boat is downscan imaging. For most commercial fishermen this is must-have gear and now many just-for-fun boaters are utilizing it as well.

According to C.H. Smith Marine, "Down Imaging, as the name suggests, is the ability on fishfinders to provide detailed picture-like images of the bottom and structures directly below the boat. The picture-like images are displayed using specific Down Imaging software that represents the return sonar signal in a more realistic manner."

Down Imaging was trademarked through Humminbird fishfinder systems and now many GPS and fishfinders have similar technology.

This software allows users to literally see what is below their boats through an on-board unit, and utilize the information for better fishing practices, as well as increased safety on the water. While DownScan Imaging only focuses on what is directly below the boat, when it is paired with side scanning programs, you can have access to the full 180 degrees of ocean below your vessel.

Whether you are just starting out or you consider yourself an old salt, DownScan Imaging is a great option for any boater. Allowing for an increased understanding of your surroundings, the technology creates a safer and more profitable knowledge of your boat and the ocean. For more information on the products that carry this software, contact ePal Inc.

What is CHIRP Technology?

In the world of boating and marine life, there are many different technologies that are put to use on commercial and recreational vessels that increase safety, efficiency and understanding on the open ocean.

For professional fishermen and families alike, being aware of your surroundings on the water is a key piece of information that makes relaxing a little bit easier. One piece of technology that is used to inform seafaring folks is CHIRP Sonar Technology.

CHIRP, which stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse, was originally released by Garmin and Simrad in early 2011 and has become one of the leading forms of sonar technology on the market. Instead of releasing one single frequency at a time from the homing unit, CHIRP sends a continuous sweep of frequencies, which gives users more information about bodies below and surrounding the boat.

According to Boating Magazine contributor Randy Vance, "Think of the chirp a bird makes. It starts on a high or low note and ends on the opposite end of the frequency scale to make a pleasing noise. It is essentially a myriad of pings fired in a single burst. Thanks to the computing capabilities within the black box, these new sonars separate these frequencies, measure their distinctive returns, weigh the timing of the returns and their volume or amplitude and use the information to plot a high-resolution image of the bottom and targets in between."

If you are interested in learning more about CHIRP or want to purchase a system for your own boat, visit ePal Inc. today. Our line of marine electronics will help you to gain a better understanding of the ocean around you.

Why should my boat have a radar system?

Summer is prime time for boating around local waterways and adventuring into unfamiliar territory on weekend getaways. No matter which of the seven seas you are chartering, it is important that you and your passengers feel safe and sound. That means equipping your vessel with gear that gives you added visibility and self-locator while you are on the water. While there are many products on the market that make this possible, potentially the best option is having a radar system installed on board.

But what are the benefits of having a radar system?

There are a number of pros when it comes to considering this gadget. First and foremost, it gives you sight in inclement weather and darkness. Through its communication with buoys and waterborne traffic, these systems can pinpoint your location and afford you eyes and ears on the water. Secondly, this technology is built so that it doesn't consume too much of your vehicle's energy. Most models are able to run on very little electricity and are compatible with any boat that operates with an engine.

According to Boat US, "Radar is a real time image of what surrounds the boat and to be of real use should be installed at the helm station of the boat."

One primary thing to consider when selecting your radar device is the size of the antenna that you are installing on your boat. For increased performance, you want a taller antennae that can 'see' a broader range around the boat.

If you are in the market for marine equipment like a radar system, visit ePal Inc. online today. Our knowledgeable staff will help you determine the product that is right for you and your needs.

4 must-haves for a successful Fourth of July on the boat

This week, many people around the country will be celebrating America's independence with a backyard barbeque, fireworks displays and daytime boating adventures through their local waterways.

While boating on its own is a great time, being on the water for a national holiday just feels like freedom. Whether you will be enjoying the Boston Pops, participating in fun and games on the Great Lakes or heading to Newport Beach in California for their acclaimed fireworks show, make sure that you have everything you need for you and your guests to have the best possible holiday.

Here are just a few must-have items for play and practicality:

Communication - First thing is first, make sure that you have means of communicating with other boaters, people on land and, if necessary, rescue workers. The best way to ensure that you will be able to get in touch with anyone is by having a satellite telephone on board. This product does not rely on telephone towers like a normal cell phone, and therefore gets much better reception. If you are looking for a higher-end product, consider those offered by Iridium. But for a more budget-conscious boater, Globalstar and SPOT offer affordable and durable models. 

Fishing - What better way to celebrate America's independence than with one of the nation's most popular pastimes? Whether fishing on a lake or in open water, one handy tool to have on board is a fishfinder. This device affords boaters the ability to see below the surface and scope out the catch-of-the-day. One of the great things about modern fishfinders is that many of them now come with GPS capabilities, essentially offering customers a two-in-one package deal. If you are looking for a good deal, check out the models from RayMarine or Humminbird GPS.

Stay dry – Undoubtedly, being on the water means getting a little wet. But when you want a towel or a change of clothes, it's important to be sure those items are nice and dry. The best way to keep your personal belongings from getting soaked is by keeping them in a waterproof bag or duffel. Whether you are just trying to keep a phone or iPad from water damage or aiming to keep your towel from absorbing stray splashes, there are a lot of options for waterproof bags and cases. These necessary boat accessories even come with the added feature of buoyancy, which means that it will float if accidentally knocked overboard. Dry Pak, Aryca and Waterbrands offer an array of products in colors and styles that are sure to suit your needs.

Water sports – With all the technicalities out of the way, now it's time to have some fun! Make sure that your boat is well equipped with all the best treats and toys so that both kids and adults will have a blast. This year, we recommend products from AirHead, Rave Sports and Full Throttle. All three brands offer affordable, durable and fun-inducing products for tubing and other water sports. No matter what tub or inflatable toy you choose, remember to also purchase a new, well-tested rope to attach the product to your boat. Ropes can deteriorate year-to-year, so for safety, and all-day fun, make sure you have a product that will last.

While we are only a few weeks into the summer, the boating season is already in full swing. Make sure that you have all that you need for fun for the whole family. For more information on any of the products listed here, contact ePal Inc. today. Our staff will be sure to outfit you with all your boating needs for the ultimate Fourth of July.

Top trails and products for successful hikes

The second that the sun starts to peek through the clouds and the weather turns nice again, outdoor lovers rejoice. After spending the off-season mentally planning for amazing hiking and camping adventures, once summer rolls around, these adventurous individuals are more than ready to lace up their boots, grab their gear and head out.

And why not? There are so many parts of the Earth that you can only see by walking. And with numerous studies proving the positive effects that exercise has on mind and body, getting out into the sunshine and learning a bit about nature is a great way to spend this season.

If you are eager to spend some time outdoors this summer, here are some of the top camping and hiking spots and some ideas for the gear you might need to bring with you to ensure fun and safety:

- Appalachian Trail – For you East Coasters, you're in luck! This trail is a massive 2,178 miles that stretches from Georgia to Maine. It is the longest marked trail in the United States, a feat that continues to take the combined efforts of over 6,000 volunteers to maintain, according to Discovery. This trail offers the opportunity to thru-hike, meaning a complete trek of the trail in its entirety or weekend and day hikes, where individuals can walk just sections of the trail. If you are considering this trek, you will definitely need a pack that can carry 25-30 pounds, like the ProGear series from Pelican. You will also want to bring layers of clothing that you can mix and match through the variety of climates that you will encounter on your trek.

- Glacier National Park – Significantly different from the Appalachian Trail, Glacier is a National Park located in Montana that has hiking trails throughout its limits. This popular hiking spot, Discovery says, is "known for impressive mountain peaks, isolated alpine lakes and no shortage of wildlife. The park gets its name from the huge glaciers that helped to shape the park's rock formations 10,000 years ago." Not to be missed, especially when traveling through middle-America, Glacier requires permits for overnight hikers, but these aren't in as much demand as those for Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Other than a permit, you will need heavy layers of clothing if you are staying overnight as temperatures can drop very low, especially at mountain peaks.

- Pacific Crest Trail – Sort of the Ying to Appalachian's Yang, the PCT is a 2,600 mile-long trail running through the West Coast. While hiking this trail, individuals will experience Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada.  Hikers will be exposed to canyons, deserts, lush forests and over 50 major mountain passes, according to the association's website. Individuals who endeavor to pass through the trail are required to be permitted in sections. They are advised to carry binoculars to spot the copious amount of wildlife and a water bottle in order to stay hydrated.

No matter what adventures you elect to go on this summer, make sure you have the outdoor equipment that you need in order to be safe and sound. For any major hike, like those listed above, make sure to bring a proper first aid kit, like those available from Adventure Medical. Also bring a communication device in case you get separated from your party or need to call for help. Some options might be a satellite telephone, like those available through GlobalStar or Iridium, or for a more solid understanding a locator is always handy. ePal Inc. has a series of GPS deals that are great to check out before setting out. 

How to pick a boat propeller

Any boat owner knows the importance of the durability, functionality and precision of the propeller. When selecting which propeller to install on your vessel, whether it is a speedboat or a cruiser, it is important to weigh your options.

While the propeller might seem like a straightforward purchase, it is critical to the propulsion of your boat, and there are few things you should know about this piece of equipment:

- Construction – Propellers generally come in three, four or five bladed units. The unit itself will either be listed as having forged or welded blades. A forged blade is highly reliable and has greater strength for moving the ship, but they also tend to be more expensive. The welded blade is, as it sounds, welded together and to the hub, making it less structurally sound than the forged blade. It tends to be less expensive, but is still a durable option.

Material - Propellers are designed to move an entire vessel, which means that the material they are made out of have to strong and durable. The two primary materials that you will find are aluminum and stainless steel because both are high performance, tend to be corrosion resistant and last a long time. These factors are important as propellers need to stand up to the abrasiveness of seawater and the wear and tear that occurs over years of use. Unlike many of the other aspects of propellers, the material is largely up to user preference.

- Sizing - This part of propeller selection is perhaps the most important to pay attention to. Propellers are sized with two numbers that detail diameter and pitch. The first number listed is indicative of the diameter of the propeller. A large diameter should be selected if you are motoring a heavier boat or you maintain a large engine. The second number, the pitch, is used to describe the projected distance that each rotation of the blades will push the vessel forward. For example, if the pitch of a unit is 15 inches, it should propel your boat forward 15 inches. According to Savvy Boater, high pitch characteristics are lower top end speeds and less acceleration, whereas lower pitch models boast better top end speeds and better acceleration.

Turning Point Hustler offers a range of both aluminum and stainless steel options in a variety of sizes and constructions. Their products are also well tested and affordable.  If you are interested in purchasing a propeller contact ePal Inc. If you are still trying to determine the right unit for your vessel, our staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives are here to answer your questions about propellers and all other marine accessories.

4 tips for woodland survival

Recently on this blog, we talked about what you should do if you need to contact the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in case of emergency. But what about you landlubbers who prefer camping and nature to sea life? It is always good to know what to do in case of emergency, so make sure you are prepared by checking out this list of things to do when lost or injured in the woods:

1. Before you leave: First, whether you are going for a few hours, or for the weekend, when you leave for an adventure you should always tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone. This will ensure that, if you do go missing, someone will know to come looking for you. Secondly, you will certainly be packing a bag. Make sure to bring tons of water, a few snacks, a change of clothes, and a first aid or survival kit. Adventure Medical offers a few different kits that range from a single knife to a utility box.   

2. Call for help: In a 1946 pamphlet from the U.S. State Department of Agriculture on how to be safe in the woods, the Forest Service suggested that "A clear head will find itself." Meaning that if you take time to think, you would be able to save yourself. While the sentiment is nice, its not necessarily true. So first thing you should do is signal for help. You can do this by building a fire, spelling out an SOS or (if you have one) shooting off a flare gun.

3. Fire/Warmth: If building a fire is not part of your initial call-for-help plan, be sure that it is next on your list of things to do. No matter where you get lost, remember that any location gets chilly when the sun goes down, and you don't want to be prone to hypothermia. Building a decent fire in a safe clearing and layering on the warm clothes will help you to stay warm and dry. For this, you want to be sure that you have packed a good amount of compact, yet effective layers into your bag. When putting together camping gear, consider purchasing a dry bag for clothing, towels and blankets. Dry Pak offers some great duffel options that come in a number of sizes and colors.

4. Shelter: No matter where you get lost, finding or building a shelter should be a top priority. This could be in a nearby cave or under a natural overhang of rock. Keep in mind that if your location is prone to unpredictable weather patterns, you may want to try and camp on higher ground. This will give you a better chance of being seen from overhead and will also not allow for pooling of water wherever you sleep. While no one plans to get lost in the woods, preparing for a dry and warm place to sleep when packing your bag is a good idea. Make sure to bring a few extra garbage bags for lining the ground (or yourself) to make rain a non-factor. Also be sure to pack a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket just in case.

If you are planning a trip into the woods, and happen to get lost on your adventure, consider these tips for getting to safety. If you are interested in adding to your camping pack to ensure your safe return, contact ePal Inc. for a vast array of products, tools and gadgets. We offer a range of camping gear and also specialize in marine accessories. Contact us today! 

3 must-haves for any tackle box

Fishermen are always very possessive over their tackle boxes, and for good reason. They are a catch-all for anything and everything that he or she might need while trying to capture that elusive catch-of-the-day. But what goes into those handy bags and boxes? Here are some ideas for how to fill your box so you can tackle even the most evasive fish.

- Floaters and sinkers – Floaters (or bobbers) let you know when you get a bite from a fish and sinkers bring your bait far below the water's surface. These two items are clutch when it comes to lake or sea fishing. If you are looking for new additions to your tackle box, try the Davis Fish Seeking Trolling Plane. You can set its depth and it will do the rest!

- Line – This may seem like a no-brainer, but you don't want to get caught without it. Making sure that your tackle box is full of ample amounts of fishing line will reassure you in case you snap a line while reeling in a big one.

- Pliers – A necessity when you are wanting to take hooks out of fleshy fish, needle-nose pliers are a must for any sufficient tackle box. If you are looking for a new pair, try out the Gerber Evo Multi-tool. This handy gadget is an all-in-one equipped with wire cutter, pliers, bottle opener and knife, what more can you want?

If you are interested in these items, or any other marine supplies, contact ePal Inc. today. Our product line is sure to have anything you need for fun in the sun and our staff of knowledgeable professionals will be able to answer any boating questions you have!  

3 must-have upgrades for your boat

Getting into a new hobby or sport can be expensive, but once you find the thing you love, it becomes more of an investment than an expense.

This is definitely true of the boating world. The initial purchase of boat, sails, motor, rigging equipment and other boating accessories is costly, but you know that the reward will be well worth it. Once your vessel has all the necessities, adding your desired bells and whistles makes your boat uniquely yours, plus its just plain fun.

This year, there are new technologies, products, tools and toys that are sure to excite even the most seasoned boaters. So as you look to upgrade your home away from home, consider these:

- Autopilot – Perfect for sail or powerboats, an autopilot installation will make tracking your route and enjoying the time on your boat all the more easier. New technologies mean that current autopilot models have less drain on the boat's battery and can integrate with your existing chartplotter or GPS systems. This season, RayMarine developed a new model of their autopilot system called the EV-100 Wheel Evolution that is mountable above or below deck and comes in one easy-to-install housing system.

- Trolling - For the fishermen in the crowd, purchasing a trolling motor will be a great addition to your boat. An innovative tool, a trolling motor will propel your boat at the speed of your choice while you try and lure the catch-of-the-day. The FW46 model from Motorguide is a foot operated, bow mounted piece that is both easy to use and affordable.

- Weather Tracking – On land or out at sea, it is critical to know what weather systems are at work. Any veteran of the sea knows the dangers of unpredicted squalls, freak lightning storms and high pitched wave systems. Don't be caught off guard. Consider installing a weather station onto the dash of your boat this year. Davis offers a Vantage Vue Wireless station that tells you about each weather variable and is even radio compatible.

While our boats can be costly, they are a labor of love. As we get into the warmer months, spending time on the water will come more and more frequently, so don't skimp on the tools that will make it the most enjoyable experience. If you are interested in any of these products or any other marine accessories, contact ePal Inc. Our line of products will surely have you geared up for a great time on the boat. Not to mention, our staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives are here and ready to help you outfit your boat with anything you might want!

3 necessities for your fishing trip

Father's Day is this Sunday, and we know that many of you outdoorsy folks will be heading out onto the water for a day of fishing with dad. With a week left before dad's big day, make sure that you have the necessities to ensure the best experience for all on board.

1. First Aid Kit - You never know when you might need a band-aid, antiseptic or tweezers on a boat. Make sure that you are prepared for even the worst situations by assembling a first aid kit that carries all of your medical necessities. Make sure to have Neosporin, waterproof medical tape and throw in some sunscreen for good measure!

2. Knife – Whether you are cutting into packaging, slicing up the catch of the day or just snipping a line, having a knife on board is a must. There are a bunch of options out there, and depending on the intent of use, you may choose to have more than one. For multi-purpose, however, Gerber's Bear Grylls Grandfather Knife is perfect for every generation of fisherman.

3. PFD - It may seem trivial to load up the boat with life jackets, but if you ever need them, you will be glad they are there. Keep in mind that, as boaters, you now have a ton of style and function options that you didn't have before. Life jackets are available from small and compact inflatables, to industrial looking, strapped jackets. If you are looking for something on the small side, try the Mustang Inflatable Belt Pack. It looks like a belt, and acts like a PFD.

With these three simple carry-ons, your boat will be well equipped to handle a weekend away with pop. For these items, and many more boat accessories, make sure to contact ePal Inc. Our staff of customer service representatives will outfit you with everything you need for a fantastic Father's Day.