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!

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. 

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. 

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!

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.

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.

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.