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!

The best saltwater fish to eat

Saltwater fishing season is underway in many parts of the country, and both novice and advanced anglers are heading out on their boats and looking for their first big catches of the year. If you're a beginner and you're not entirely sure what you should be catching, we've got you covered. In today's article we'll talk about the best types of fish to catch if you plan on eating them.

Bleacher Report has a terrific guide that can provide some insight into the best fish to catch. Obviously, much of this depends on the region where you'll be fishing, but generally if you know that these species are in your area you can bet you'll be catching something tasty:

  • Flounder: These versatile fish are more easily caught near piers, pylons and similar structures. As such, you should be careful when looking for them that you don't hit anything. Having a marine transducer on board will be especially helpful in avoiding obstacles.
  • Red Snapper: You've probably had a red snapper filet or two at your favorite restaurant. Why not catch your own? Make sure to use a live sardine or cigar minnow to catch these guys.
  • Yellowfin Tuna: It's best to try catching the other two fish before you go for a yellowfin, as these are extremely large fish and you'll need a sturdy pole. But catching your first will be one of your proudest moments as an angler. And, most importantly, they make good steaks.

Remember that you'll have a much easier time catching saltwater fish if you have the right marine instruments, including a fishfinder. You can obtain this gear at the best prices by shopping at ePal, the leading online retailer of boat accessories!

Kentucky provides good crappie fishing this season

Looking for a great place to go fishing this spring or summer now that winter weather has thawed and more lakes are opening up for anglers? While it might be tempting to head down to Florida or up to the New England coast for your next big catch, you may want to consider another destination that isn't quite as popular, but still delivers good returns: Kentucky.

A recent article on the website of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFW) provides some detail on the terrific conditions that are cropping up for those who want to catch crappie, a fish that can sometimes grow as large as 6 pounds and comes in both black and white varieties.

Interestingly, these fish are showing up in large numbers not just at big bodies of water, but at smaller ponds and lakes as well. And unlike many fisheries throughout the country, the KDFW is hoping that people will come to the area and keep the crappie population in check.

"There is a really good population of 7- to 9-inch crappie in Boltz along with bigger ones," Jeff Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for the KDFW, told the source. "Bullock Pen [Lake]'s crappie population is about the same as in Boltz [Lake]. Kincaid [Lake] has a lot of mid-range crappie as well with some bigger ones mixed in. It has a pretty decent crappie population."

If you're looking to make some big catches this season, whether it's in Kentucky or elsewhere, it's a good idea to have a fishfinder on board your vessel that can help you identify the best populations and have more productive outings. You can find this and other marine equipment at ePal, which offers free shipping to the lower 48 states!

Boat sales slip slightly in March

Yacht dealers across the country reported slower sales last month than they did in March 2013, according to boat dealer Denison Yacht Sales, which obtained its data from SoldBoats.com. The industry saw an 8 percent drop in sales, as the number of vessels that changed hands dropped from 2,642 to 2,439 in March 2014.

Even more dramatic was the drop in the value of overall sales, which dropped from $482 million in March 2013 to $268 million in March of this year. That represents a decrease of 44 percent, and it calls into question assumptions that the boat sales industry has been recovering from the recession.

Boating is particularly susceptible to economic downturns due to the fact that they are typically people's hobby, which is more likely to be cut from their budgets if they lose their job or see a drop in pay. Additionally, boats require a lot of maintenance, so even after they're purchased they require spending on the part of the owner.

In addition to economic stagnation, another factor that could be contributing to lower sales is the prolonged winter that much of the country has been dealing with. Many lakes and waterways only recently thawed, and in certain regions there is still regular snowfall that makes recreational boating far less pleasant.

If you're a boat owner who has put off replacing your vessel, one less expensive option may be to upgrade your marine electronics and equipment. At ePal, we carry the latest boating technology at prices that you won't find anywhere else, so you can rest assured that replacing parts won't ruin your household budget. For more information, browse our online store today!

Boat dealer receives jail time for deceptive business practices

Yesterday we wrote on this blog about how important it is for boating enthusiasts to find trustworthy dealers and mechanics. By finding the right marine professional to handle your boating sales and maintenance needs, you can avoid a situation in which you're overcharged for services or provided with subpar repairs that end up damaging your vessel.

Hopefully, by following our advice you'll avoid having to deal with individuals like a boat dealer in Helena, Montana, who was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for deceptive business practices. Shawn Corbett, entered into a plea deal with prosecutors in which he will also have to pay $33,000 in restitution and commit to 500 hours of community service for taking payment for work that he ended up not performing.

Local news source KXLH reports that one witness in the trial stated that Corbett belonged in an orange jumpsuit. His business was called Maximum Marine, and in some cases he would put off performing repairs for years.

If you want to avoid doing business with someone like Corbett, there are a couple things you should remember when finding a boating technician to work on your vessel:

  • Check their reviews on sites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau to make sure other customers had positive experiences
  • Shop around for good rates — don't assume that you have to work with the first mechanic or dealer you approach
  • Walk around their shop and see if it is in good shape and is kept clean. A well-maintained shop is the sign of a business owner who cares.

When you purchase boat accessories and electronics from ePal, you can rest assured that you'll have the best customer service experience possible. Browse our online store today for our latest deals on gear and equipment!

New Coast Rica resort to break ground in June

A new resort in Costa Rica for boaters will be breaking ground in June, according to a recent article in Trade Only Today, a boating industry news source. The Golfito Marina Village & Resort, located in the town of Golfito, is expected to give a major economic boost to the area and provide yachters with a beautiful vacation spot.

The resort will feature 130 slips, 50 of which will be available when the first phase of construction of the deepwater marina is complete. The resort will cater specifically to super yachts, though if you would like to visit and don't have a boat you can also fly to Golfito​. In addition to the resort, Hacienda El Dorado, the development company that is spearheading the project, will be restoring roads and building new infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic.

Visitors will be able to stay in a luxury hotel, visit a local arts and crafts district, rent bicycles for bike trails and take water taxis to nearby towns and resorts. The project is expected to bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, which had suffered from economic stagnation after a Chiquita Banana Co. plant had ceased operations in the area.

With summer on the horizon, it's a safe bet that you're prepping your boat for trips to exotic destinations all over the world. Before you embark on your next journey, make sure that your boat is outfitted with the latest navigational and communications equipment available. You can find the best marine GPS and electronics equipment at ePal. Not only do we have all the highest quality brands, but we also offer free shipping to the lower 48 states and flat rate expedited options if you need your equipment faster!

Folsom Lake boating takes a hit due to drought

Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, California, is a popular boating spot for residents of the northern part of the state. It frequently plays host to boating races, and every summer those with power boats, sailboats and other watercraft look forward to the beginning of the season when they can take their toys for a spin for the first time since the previous fall.

However, with water levels falling and a drought that has wreaked havoc on the state's water supply, it's unclear whether 2014 will provide these boating enthusiasts with much of a season. The lake has opened for the summer, but authorities aren't sure how long it will stay that way.

One of the main problems is that with water levels so low, it's difficult for boaters to maneuver and avoid underwater obstacles like rocks. The lake may enforce a 5 mph speed limit to ensure that there are no collisions due to visitors being too close to each other.

"There's limited space out there," Arnold Boeck, a sailboat owner, told local news source KCRA.com. "You have to be constantly watching because you are so close to the bottom."

It's no secret that the drought in California has created headaches for boat owners and marine enthusiasts. For these individuals, few marine instruments will prove more useful this season than a marine transducer. With this device you'll be able to take accurate readings of the surface and ensure that your vessel isn't damaged by rocks and other obstructions.

You can find the latest in marine transducer technology by shopping at ePal. We carry an extensive selection of equipment from Garmin, Raymarine and many other brands who are on the cutting edge of marine electronics design. For more information, browse our site today!

BoatUS offers free fuel spill response training

Most boating activity in the United States occurs in the summer. As a result there is a higher likelihood of fuel spills occurring at popular boating spots this time of year. To combat this issue, the BoatUS Foundation has announced that it will be offering a free, online class that is aimed at educating seasonal employees of boating facilities on how to respond to these incidents.

"It's all about minimizing risk," Susan Shingledecker, BoatUS Foundation Vice President, said in a news release. "We encourage marinas and clubs to send their new fuel dock staff to the course just after they are hired, which will dovetail well with any marina's on-the-job training effort."

The course is meant not just for dock hands, but for any employees who may be nearby so that they can help in the event that they witness a fuel spill. It features online videos, interactive exercises and interviews with experts on a variety of topics, including:

  • An explanation of the different types of fuel products at marinas and docks: Handling oil and gas products may entail different procedures depending on the type and where they are being used
  • How to know when a tank is full: Not all boats have a shut off valve that will prevent over-fueling, so it's important to know when to remove the gas pump, particularly on older vessels
  • Impacts on the environment: What happens when fuel is spilled in a lake or the ocean? The course provides some answers.

If you'll be boating frequently this summer, it's important to ensure that your vessel is equipped with the latest fuel gauge and marine electronics equipment. This will help you with refueling and boat maintenance. For more information on the latest technology available, make sure to check out ePal's inventory today!

California boaters concerned about emergency drought barriers

Boating enthusiasts in California, particularly those close to the Sacramento river, are concerned that new plans to install drought protection barriers on three sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be harmful to the boating community. The barriers are intended to preserve water quality and protect water supplies upstream from where they are located.

Recreational Boaters of California, an association of boating hobbyists, believes that the barriers, which will be installed at Steamboat Slough, Sutter Slough and False River, will make it difficult for the boating community and economy to thrive during its most important season, from May to November.

According to Trade Only Today, a boating industry news source, there are a number of specific concerns that the group has brought up with state authorities:

  • Boat ramps that will be included as part of the design of the barriers will not be big enough for any vessels over 22 feet. As a result, boaters won't be able to transport their vessels over the barriers to other waterways.
  • The boating community was not actually involved in the planning of the barriers.
  • There is some speculation that drought conditions are not as extreme now as they were when the barrier plan was first conceived and these measures may not be necessary in the first place.

Whether you plan to boat in the areas where the barriers will be installed or you park your vessel elsewhere in California, drought can have a significant effect on how and when you take your watercraft out. In these situations, it is crucial to have your boat equipped with marine electronics from ePal, such as a high quality transducer. This will help you judge depths more accurately and determine if your boat is in danger of hitting underwater objects that have become a threat due to lower water levels.

Fish tracing technology helping to prevent overfishing, illegal practices

Seafood importers face a difficult task if they want to ensure that their products were sustainably caught. Since they are typically not involved in the actual fishing process, they need a way to make sure that the commercial fishing boats they rely on are using responsible practices without actually monitoring every single vessel.

Electronic tracking is making this job easier. A recent article on TriplePundit.com provides details on the electronic tagging system that Norpac Fisheries Export, which has offices in Seattle and Hawaii, deployed to ensure that their products made their way through the supply chain without any illegal practices. The tagging program was originally developed as a way to monitor inventory, but has quickly evolved into a system for verifying responsible practices. The tagging system involves attaching a barcode to each fish that lets them know which boat it came from, where it was caught and how many fish were caught at the same time.

Future of Fish, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable fishing, states that this type of electronic tagging is crucial for preventing overfishing. It's an easy way to monitor where commercial fishing vessels are obtaining their catches.

Commercial fishermen are often sensitive about sharing information about where they obtained their catches, as these details are treated like trade secrets that make them more competitive. To fix this problem, Norpac encrypts the data so that it is more secure.

For those in the seafood industry who want to make the job of finding legal fisheries easier, it is crucial to ensure that you have the latest fishfinder and chartplotter technology onboard your vessels. You can obtain this equipment for the best prices by shopping at ePal!