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.
For most boat owners, their vessel is their most valuable possession outside of the house or car. As a result, it's tempting for these individuals to consider purchasing an extended warranty that will cover engine and hull repairs for several years after they buy the vehicle. If you're in the market for a new boat you may be wondering if these warranty agreements are worth the investment, or are they loaded with caveats that make them almost useless when you need them the most?
The answer is that it depends. The value of your warranty is dictated by a number of factors:
- Deductibles: Higher deductibles typically mean that you get less coverage, though the premium or cost for your warranty will be lower. It also means that you'll be paying more out-of-pocket expenses for any repairs.
- Overlap with manufacturer's warranty: There's no point in purchasing an extended warranty that coincides with your manufacturer warranty, unless the former provides coverage for certain fixes that the latter does not.
- Transferability: If you ever sell your boat, it'll fetch a higher price if it's under warranty.
As BoatUS.com points out, many of the problems that are covered by extended warranties will show up within the time period of the manufacturer's warranty. It may be a bigger gamble than it's worth to put down the money for an extended warranty if you won't end up using it.
It's also important to remember that these warranties typically don't cover your chartplotter and other electronic items that you add to your boat after you buy it. However, you can rest assured that when you purchase these components from ePal, they come with manufacturers warranties, as well as our 30 day return policy.
Although many boaters can leave shore with a basic marine radio onboard, others require more serious communication equipment for those occasions when they'll be heading farther out into the ocean, away from ports and cell phone towers. For such situations, it may be necessary to purchase a satellite phone.
If you're unfamiliar with this equipment and how it works, here are some tips to keep in mind as you decided whether you want to buy one:
- Although they're known for their ability to provide service anywhere this isn't always the case. There are some networks, such as Iridium, which work globally, but others are restricted to certain regions. This may not be a problem if you typically boat in the same body of water.
- Consider whether you're existing marine equipment already provides some of the functions that are available with satellite phones. For example, if you already have a GPS system that delivers weather information, there's not much need to also have this function in your satellite phone, unless you're afraid of the GPS losing reception.
- Think about what you want to use the phone for. Is it for emergencies, or will you be consistently relying on it to send messages back to shore? Do you plan to use it for phone calls only, or email and internet as well?
At ePal, we offer satellite phones and accessories from Globalstar, Inmarsat, Iridium and other companies, so you should be able to find a phone that fits your needs specifically. If you have any questions about this topic, we invite you to give us a call today at (877) 245-8649 to find answers!
Although it's clearly the last resort, there may come a time when you're faced with the decision of whether or not you and your crew should abandon ship. No matter how valuable your boat is or how much it means to you, if it comes down to a choice between the safety of your passengers and staying with your vessel a little bit longer, you need to choose safety.
But knowing when to jump ship isn't always easy to determine. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It's not a good idea to wait around to see what happens. If you've decided that it's too dangerous to stay onboard, then you need to get on your life raft and get away from the boat, as it could damage the raft in choppy seas.
- Not all captains wait until their boat is sinking to abandon it. Yachting Magazine recently reported on the story of Ian Hubbard, who was with his wife and children on a 60-foot ketch in the Atlantic when he had to call for search and rescue. The boat was fine, but he and his crew were completely fatigued and seasick. Had they waited any longer, Hubbard would have had to pilot through an approaching hurricane.
Hopefully you'll never have to make the decision about whether or not you should abandon your vessel. You can make such instances less likely by investing in the best marine GPS products and electronics at ePal. These instruments will deliver weather information so that you can always stay ahead of the next storm.
So you've decided to purchase a boat. Much like buying a house or a new car, it can sometimes be a long and complicated process, depending on how big the vessel is. If you're buying anything bigger than a skiff or small motorboat, you're probably going to have to deal with a broker. Most sellers will contract with someone who handles the sales process and takes a commission from the sales price.
If you're entering the market, make sure to keep these tips in mind when working with a broker:
- Consider hiring your own broker: If you want a more unbiased expert to help you navigate listings, having your own broker can be a valuable resource. They'll take your personal needs into consideration to make sure you get a vehicle that is in good condition and will leave you a happy sailor.
- Get everything in writing: When you hand over a deposit, make sure that the broker is storing your money in a separate account and that you have the account number and bank where it is being held. You should also make sure the conditions of the deposit are clearly stated, such as when you can get it back if you decide to pull out of the deal.
- Have a surveyor inspect every aspect of the boat you're buying: This is critical for making sure that the hull, engine and marine instruments on the boat you are purchasing are in good condition.
Once you've bought your new boat, make sure you head over to the ePal online store and check out our inventory of the latest technology in marine equipment!
As we noted recently on this blog, hiring a marine surveyor is essential if you're going to be purchasing a new or used boat soon. These surveys make sure that the vessel you're buying is in operable condition and that all of the various structural components, accessories and marine GPS electronics you have on board are working as advertised.
But having a marine survey performed on the watercraft you're purchasing is only one type of survey you may need to order throughout your ownership of the boat. There are actually four main types that you may need to have done on your vessel at some point during its lifetime. These include:
- Appraisal inspection: You may need to order one of these to determine the fair market value of the boat for the purposes of selling it, having it financed or if it needs to be auctioned during an estate sale
- Damage survey: If you're ever involved in an accident, your insurer will hire a surveyor to determine the extent of the damage in order to figure out how much will need to be paid for the claim.
- Insurance survey: Whenever you're trying to get an insurance policy on your boat, the insurer will most likely ask to have a survey performed that checks out the structural integrity of the vehicle to make sure it is a low risk
- Pre-purchase inspection: As described above, this is when you hire a surveyor to make sure the vehicle you're buying is in good shape.
Once you've purchased your new boat, you should make sure it has all the communication and navigation equipment it needs to make your trips safer and easier, such as a chartplotter. You can find this equipment at ePal.
If you're in the process of shopping for a new boat or replacing the one you have, you'll most likely have to call on the services of a marine surveyor. Just as you would normally take a used vehicle you're purchasing to a mechanic to have it inspected for any engine problems, so should you have boats you might buy looked at by an expert.
But if you've never hired a surveyor before, you may not know where to start. Luckily YachtWorld.com has some tips that can get you started on the right path:
- Check marine surveyor organizations for names: There are several trade organizations whose members must meet certain standards in order to receive certification as a marine surveyor. These include the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors and the National Association of Marine Surveyors.
- Don't rush your hiring decision: Check out multiple surveyors and ask for their inspection fees, as well as how much experience they've had in the business. Don't simply hire the first person you call.
- Go to the inspection appointment: Unless you absolutely can't make it, try to attend the inspection itself and listen to the surveyor's observations.
- Take the boat for a spin before the test ride: The test ride – when the surveyor actually evaluates the engine and boat performance – shouldn't be the first time you take the vessel out for a ride. You should already be familiar with its power and speed beforehand.
Once you purchase your new boat, you'll want to make sure that it's loaded with the latest marine accessories and instruments. If you're thinking about installing new communication and navigation equipment, ePal is your best option for procuring these items.
Your boat is one of your most prized possessions, which means that you're probably perpetually concerned about it getting stolen. Unfortunately, boats are hot commodities with thieves, but the good news is that you're not powerless to prevent these thefts. By following these tips for securing your boat, you'll make it much less likely that someone will steal it, and if they do you'll have a much easier time tracking them down and getting it back.
- Install a GPS tracking device in your vessel. There are a number of solutions that allow you to follow the movements of your boat so that you can inform law enforcement of its location, as well as its historical route, speed and the duration of stops.
- Keep a copy of your boat registration, title, license numbers and any other information that can be used to identify your vessel. Share this information with police in the event that it is stolen.
- Take many photographs of your vessel and any unique identifying markers.
- Unhook your fuel lines so that your engine can't be started. You may have done this already anyway, as it's a common way of winterizing boats.
If you're concerned about your boat's safety and security, the best thing you can do is make sure it is equipped with high quality marine GPS and electronic components that can send you messages when the vessel has been operated without authorization. At ePal, we carry a wide selection of security accessories that are easy to operate and effective at preventing theft.
Your transducer may be one of the most important boat accessories that you own, but like any electronic piece of equipment, it is subject to interference from the other devices on your boat, as well as conditions in the water. No matter how strong the signal, at times you may find that the transducer just isn't delivering information correctly. If you're able to identify the type of interference you are dealing with, it may be easier to correct the problem.
According to Vexilar, a marine electronics manufacturer, there are five basic types of interference you'll be dealing with:
- Acoustical: This occurs when the transducer was installed improperly so that the flow of water over its sensors is not even.
- Conducted: If you have a trolling motor attached to your boat, or your transducer itself is installed within the propeller hub of your trolling motor, your device may receive interference from the motor. You'll only have to deal with this issue if your trolling motor uses pulse width modulation (PWM) for speed control.
- Electromagnetic Interference (EMI): Similar to conducted interference, this occurs when your trolling motor produces such powerful electromagnetic waves that they are absorbed by your transducer's wiring.
- Ignition: Just as it sounds, you can suffer from noise and interference caused by your ignition switch, which can distort not only your transducer signals but also those of your marine radio.
- Sonar Cross-Talk: You may experience this problem if the signals from your transducer are intersecting with those of another one nearby that is transmitting at a similar frequency.
Marine electronic parts are becoming more powerful every day, which means that they're producing more interference. If you want to avoid these problems, the best way to do so is to make sure you're using high quality parts supplied by ePal, and that you have them installed by professionals who know what they're doing.
After boating season is over, many boat owners will take their vessel out of the water only to find that the propeller is covered in barnacles, tangled plants, fishing gear and other debris that accumulated over the course of the summer months.
While it's tempting to simply leave your props alone and ignore the gunk and slime that gathers, this can have an adverse effect on your boat's efficiency. All of that material on the prop blade will cause it to move less water when it is spinning, and you'll end up using more fuel to cover the same distance.
In this article we'll discuss some of the ways you can clear a fouled prop:
- Antifouling paint is sometimes applied to boat props while they're out of water for winter. You can apply it yourself, but many boatyards will do this work for you. This paint deters flora and fauna from gathering on the blades.
- If your prop becomes entangled in some kind of fishing netting, such as a lobster trap, while you're underway, first stop the motor to assess the situation. With an outboard motor, you could tilt the engine up and untangle the netting by hand. For inboard engines, you can try running the motor in reverse to clear it.
If your prop becomes unusable or corrodes because of debris, it may be time to invest in a new one. There are many places to purchase new boat parts, but you'll find the most affordable prices and the best service if you shop at ePal.