Heading out on your boat soon? Follow these 5 safety tips

With temperatures warming up all over the country, many boat owners are heading out to their docks to take their vessels for a ride. If you're one of these lucky mariners, it's important to remember that safety should be your number one priority when boating. It's a fun hobby but, if done carelessly, can be very dangerous.

Boating Magazine recently listed its top 44 boating safety tips. Here are some of their best pieces of advice:

  • Bring a pair of binoculars on your journey: It's difficult to overstate how important having a pair of binoculars can be while on a boat. It can help you see approaching vehicles and land formations that may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • Go over your docking plan with crew members: Before you approach your slip, make sure that all members of your crew know exactly how you'll be approaching the dock and what their responsibilities will be in terms of throwing lines over the rail and jumping on the dock.
  • Use warping to pull out of tight spaces: If your boat is parked between two others and you can't move forward or backward without hitting another boat, use warping to maneuver. This is where you tie the bow of your boat to the dock and use it as a pivot point to swing out of your parking space.

You should also ensure that your boat is full equipped with a chartplotter and other marine instruments that will make your voyage safer. If you need to upgrade or replace your navigation equipment, your best resource for this gear is ePal. We have the best prices on the internet, as well as the best shipping policy. Browse our inventory today for our latest deals!

What are the best saltwater fish to catch?

Experienced anglers always seem to know which fish are located nearby and are the easiest to catch. But if you're new to fishing then you probably don't know what species to look for and which ones you'll have the best chances of reeling in. To help you get started, we've put together a brief list of some of the most frequently encountered saltwater fish and how you should go about trying to catch them.

Here are a few species you'll definitely want to try catching on your next saltwater fishing expedition:

  • Flounder: Bleacher Report notes that flounder typically hang out around docks, pylons, reefs and other structures, and they usually stay close to the bottom. Make sure to be patient when going after them, as they aren't very aggressive about biting on bait. If you feel a tug on your line, wait just a few seconds before trying to reel one in.
  • Mahi Mahi: Tired of paying a lot of money for a mahi mahi steak at your favorite restaurant? You can catch your own as long as you have a good boat that you trust to take you out away form shore, as this is a deepwater fish. Look for flocks of birds diving into the water, as this is a sign that they have found a school of fish.
  • Red Drum: These are pretty common fish along the East Coast, and they're a favorite of experienced anglers. Experienced fisherman Joey Sweet recommends not fishing directly over them in the water, but off to the side at some distance in order not to disturb them.

You'll have a much easier time of making a big catch if you have the right equipment. Make sure your boat has all the marine instruments and gear you need by shopping at ePal!

3 essential baits for bass fishing

Are you looking to catch some bass this spring? It's certainly the perfect time to hit the lake, as bass are typically emerging from their winter haunts to prepare for spawning. Spring is when they're hungriest, so if you have the right marine equipment and bait, you should begin to reel in some big catches in the next few weeks.

Not sure what kind of bait you should take with you on your trip? TackleGrab.com has some suggestions for baits that have been proven to be the most effective:

  • Crankbait: This is a favorite of new bass anglers as it's easy to use. Crankbaits are designed to dive to the bottom and then be reeled up. As they move vertically through the water they wiggle and catch the attention of bass. The only thing to be wary of is that, because they dive to the bottom, they can become snagged on plants and rocks, so make sure you know how deep the water is and avoid problems like this.
  • Jigs: One of the most versatile types of lures, jigs are much easier to user in places where the weeds have grown thick. The best colors are green and blue, as these are more easily spotted over long distances underwater.
  • Spinnerbait: Perhaps the most popular bass fishing option, these are commonly used because they are highly visible in the water. They don't look much like fish, but the spinning, sparkling colors are too much for the fish to resist.

Remember that if you're serious about bass fishing, one of the tools that will help you the most is a fishfinder. These devices, which you can purchase from ePal, give you in-depth information about the water column and help you locate the best schools of bass. Check out our online store today for more information!

Follow these tips when sleeping on your boat!

There may come a time that you'll need to sleep on your boat, most likely because you're in the midst of a long voyage. While sleeping on a boat in calm seas can be a pleasant experience, it's also very easy for it to turn into a dangerous situation if you're not careful, especially if you're sailing alone.

If you find yourself in a position where you'll need to sleep onboard your boat, make sure that you follow these tips:

  • If you're near shore, try to find a small protected cove: There's no point in anchoring in choppy waters if your within range of a cove that is protected from wind. This will also allow you to anchor to the shore.
  • Keep some lights on for other boaters: Make sure that your boat is plainly visible so that you aren't hit by other boaters. No matter how unlikely it is to happen, such a collision could be fatal and should be anticipated.
  • Use an anchor that is at least one size bigger than what is recommended for your vessel: Discover Boating recommends buying an anchor that weighs one pound for every two feet of boat length for most uses. But for overnight anchoring, they recommend one and a half pounds for every two feet of length.

For boaters who are looking for navigational and communication equipment for their vessel, there's no better resource for this gear than ePal. We have the best selection, prices and customer service of any supplier. Furthermore, you can't beat our shipping policy. We offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states, in addition to flat rate expedited options when you need your gear more quickly.

Is Colombia the next hot boating destination?

Colombia hasn't had the best reputation in the last few decades, with drug cartels and violence typically dominating the news that makes its way to the United States. But much of that is history, and some are predicting that Colombia will become the next big boating destination for fishermen and yachters.

It makes sense that the country would be a prime spot for boaters. It has long coastlines on both its Pacific and Atlantic sides, and many large ports where vacationers can anchor and explore. In addition, there's plenty of fishing to be had in these areas.

To attract more boating tourism, the country has been hosting boat shows, including the Cartagena International Boat Show, which was held recently in the Pacific city of Cartagena. The show drew over 3,000 attendees, representing an increase of 165 percent over last year, according to Trade Only Today. Held in late March, the show's vendors were especially happy about the turnout.

"In Colombia now, we see tourism as one of the main sources of employment," Santiago Rojas, Colombia's minister of tourism, told the source. "In Colombia, of course, we have two seas on our borders. Nautical tourism and all of the industry around it is very important. We are out of the hurricane zone."

If you plan to take your boat down to Colombia at some point, you should recognize that it's not an easy journey, and having the latest navigational technology on board will be a big help. Boaters who are in the market for a chartplotter that will help them find their way through international waters should invest in new unit from ePal. We carry the best brands at even better prices, so you can rest assured you're getting a great deal!

The search for the perfect bass bedding

Bass anglers are obsessed with finding the best bedding, or nest, whenever they head out to catch some fish. The bedding is the place you're most likely to catch bass, as they tend to hover around this area in order to protect their eggs. Finding bedding isn't a particularly exact science, but there are steps you can take to improve the odds of locating one of these pockets.

The first thing to note is that, like many other animals, bass like to keep their eggs in a sheltered nest that is less susceptible to predators. This means they'll usually dig a hole beneath an underwater log, a rocky ledge, or plants that are growing above the surface of the water.

Experienced bass anglers will usually turn on their trolling motors and move slowly along the shore of the river or lake where they're fishing and try to visually spot one of these beds. As The Sportsman's Guide notes, the best lures for bass fishing are soft plastic creatures that resemble crawfish and salamanders — which are more likely to attack the nest. This means they're also more likely to grab the attention of a protective new parent.

However, it's also important not to become too obsessed with searching for bedding. As recently noted by Field and Stream, sometimes it's better just to cast your line in the middle of a lake and wait for something to bite. After all, isn't fishing supposed to be a relaxing pastime?

If you want to increase your chances of catching bass and other fish, make sure your boat is equipped with a fishfinder from ePal. We carry the latest technology from the best brands, so you can rest assured your device will help you increase your catches!

How to repair a crack in your fiberglass hull: Part 2

Recently, we blogged about the preparatory steps that you need to take before you begin to mend a crack in your fiberglass boat's hull. This is a process that every boat owner with a fiberglass vessel should understand, as you don't want to be stuck out in the middle of the ocean with a breach that you can't fix. This would put you and your passengers at risk.

Once you've prepared the area that is cracked for repair, you'll need to begin to apply glass fabric in alternating layers between 1 1/2-ounce mat and 6-ounce cloth. In between each layer, you'll apply a coating of resin that will hold the materials together. The first layer should be placed on top of a thin application of Gelcoat, which helps to hold the subsequent layers in place.

Generally speaking, it's recommended that you apply one layer of cloth and mat for every 1/32 of an inch of hull thickness. In other words, if your hull is a half inch thick, you would want to apply 16 layers of fiberglass before putting on the finish.

BoatUS, a boating resource, suggests using polyester or vinylester resin when you are patching a hole that is above the water's surface. For cracks that are underwater, you should use epoxy instead.

Of course, it's always preferable to not find yourself in a position where you have to fix your hull at all, which means you'll want to do a good job of anticipating any underwater hazar​ds that might cause a breach. The best way to do this is to equip your boat with a marine transducer and other marine electronics that can give you surface and water column information in real time. For more information, check out the latest navigation products from ePal!

How to repair a crack in your fiberglass hull: Part 1

In our last article, we talked about how the fiberglass boat market has seen sales pick up lately. While this style of boat construction is popular, it's worth noting that fiberglass is more susceptible to cracks and fractures than aluminum. As a result, any boat owner who has invested in a fiberglass vessel should understand how to patch fiberglass in the event that they experience a collision at sea.

In this article we'll talk about the steps needed to prepare the broken fiberglass for repair. According to BoatUS.com, this is the process you should go through before applying new fiberglass:

  • Cut out the affected area: Before you patch the hole, you need to cut out the fractured or cracked part of the fiberglass.
  • Dewax the area around the hole: This removes wax coatings that can interfere with the grinding process, thereby making it more difficult to use adhesive to apply a new layer of glass fabric.
  • Grind the surrounding area: Using a 36-grit paper on a disk sander, grinding allows the resin to form a better bond.
  • Prepare the area with masking: Resin has the tendency to run and drip, so you'll want to mask areas where you don't want the resin to stick. Usually this involves using paper or wax to coat the area you want to protect.

Once you've taken these steps, you'll be prepared to apply glass fabric over the hole.

After you get your boat out on the water again, make sure that you equip it with the latest marine equipment and technology available. You can find great deals on the best gear by shopping at ePal, where you'll also receive free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states!

Fiberglass boat market picks up speed

The fiberglass boat market is growing rapidly at a time when other parts of the boating industry are in decline. Trade Only Today, a boating news source, reports that the fiberglass segment has seen growth of 35 percent in the past two years, with Florida contributing the most sales in the United States.

The industry reportedly sold 19,500 fiberglass boats 15 feet or longer in 2013, up from 14,500 in 2011. Given that Florida has a year-round boating season, it's not surprising that it would lead the nation in boat sales. But the growth hasn't been limited just to the Sunshine State: The Northeast saw an increase in saltwater fiberglass boat sales of over 33 percent.

Why are fiberglass boats becoming so popular? It has much to do with the advantages of this material over aluminum, particularly for saltwater fisherman. Fiberglass is heavier, which makes boats more substantial and less shaky when they're out in choppy ocean waters. In addition, fiberglass isn't susceptible to corrosion from saltwater, while aluminum will eventually begin to rust and deteriorate in the same conditions.

This isn't to say that aluminum doesn't have its own benefits. If you're involved in a collision, either with another watercraft or a dock, a metal boat will bend and dent without being punctured. Fiberglass, on the other hand, will shatter with a strong enough impact, which means that it could be in danger of sinking if the collision occurs away from shore.

If you've recently purchased a fiberglass boat, make sure that it's equipped with discount marine supplies from ePal. We carry the latest technology, including GPS and radio equipment from Garmin, Raymarine and Lowrance. Check out our online store today!

Before you head out to the lake, follow these tips to catch more catfish

One of the best dishes in Southern cuisine is fried catfish, and it's even better when you make it yourself. If you're planning to head out to the lake soon to try catching a few, you're going to want to make sure you have the right marine accessories on your boat. You'll also want to follow these expert tips from Game and Fishing Magazine:

  • If you're fishing on a small river that has rapids, the area underneath ledges where the water falls is a great place to find catfish. This is because the falling water will carve out a deep section where they can hide.
  • One of the best times to catch catfish is at night. Once it's dark, you can use special bobbers that have a light on top, which will glow when the hook is bitten — an important feature when you're in a secluded area, such as a campground in the woods.
  • The best baits for large catfish are cut baits. These are pieces of sliced fish that are great for attracting large catfish even over great distances. Typically, you'll want to use an oily fish, as these give off even stronger scents through the water. If you're only looking for smaller catches, you can rely on just about any bait, including manufactured power bait and even chicken liver.

In addition to using the right techniques to find catfish, you'll also want to use the right equipment. At ePal, you'll find that we have not just the largest selection of boat accessories and electronics, but the best prices as well. Check out our store today for the latest technology that will help you catch more (and bigger) fish!