Over 500 containers lost at sea after ship encounters violent weather, waves

A large shipping freighter lost over 500 containers at sea when it was bombarded by 30-foot waves and 60-knot winds off the Atlantic coast of Europe. The Svendborg, owned by The Maersk Group, was traveling from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Sri Lanka via the Suez Canal. It is currently docked at the Bay of Biscay, where its owners are trying to calculate the total damage and losses.

There is no current requirement by any international organizations for ships to declare losses at sea, so no one is entirely sure how often such incidents take place. However, CNN reports that The Through Transport Club, a shipping insurance company, estimates that about 2000 containers are lost every year.

Many environmental groups are concerned that these losses can have a traumatic impact on wildlife populations, not to mention fishing vessels and other boats. Containers typically sink as soon as they hit the water, but Robin des Bois, a French environmental advocacy organization, says that some refrigerated containers could stay afloat for months.

Given how little we know about how frequently these types of incidents occur, it is critical for boaters to ensure that their vessels are equipped with communication and navigational tools that will help them identify hazards before it's too late. Having a marine transducer, chartplotter and marine GPS on board can be a lifesaver for anticipating violent weather, as well as for catching underwater obstructions before they damage your hull.

At ePal, you'll find an enormous selection of these items at discount prices. We also offer free shipping on all U.S. orders, so you can rest assured that the price you're being quoted is what you'll pay. For more information, check out our online store today!

Louisiana experiences record low boating deaths in 2013

Louisiana set a record for the lowest number of boating deaths in a year in 2013, experiencing only 13 total. Considering that the state has had an average of 25 boating deaths per year since 2010, this is a remarkable achievement.

The Associated Press reports that the previous low was 19, set in 1992. The all-time high is 79 in 1974.

The data, which was provided by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' Enforcement Division's Boating Safety Program, is good news for the boating industry in the Bayou State, given the thousands of citizens who pilot boats on a daily basis. The Department is crediting the improved safety conditions to mandatory boat education courses that are required for anyone born after January 1, 1984.

In order to continue this trend of improved safety, it's important for boaters to avail themselves of communications and navigation technology that makes it much easier to identify nearby vessels and avoid collisions. Some of the equipment that every boater should have on board before they leave the dock includes:

  • Marine VHF: In order to communicate with emergency personnel on land, it's important for boaters to have a marine radio that puts out a strong signal. Cell phones are often inadequate, particularly when you're on a large body of water.
  • Transducers: Avoiding collisions with underwater obstacles is much easier if you have a transducer that can provide accurate readings of the surface underneath your boat.

If you're looking to add these items to your equipment inventory, or you need to replace the ones you have, your best source for marine equipment is ePal!

Garmin develops new vessel integration technology

One of the predominant trends in marine GPS technology is the consolidation of various navigation and communication equipment into one component. This allows boaters more control and freedom in piloting their vessel, and makes the process of monitoring location, engine condition and other parameters more intuitive.

In keeping with this trend, Garmin has just announced that it has partnered with Mastervolt, manufacturers of CZone intelligent technology, to create an integrated system with a simplified interface. This will give pilots quicker access to their boat's controls, thus providing a more straightforward, streamlined method for steering the vehicle so that the driver can focus on other aspects of their trip, not just making sure their boat works.

"Today, with recreational time being limited, boaters and their families do not want to worry about the operation of the boat," G.R. Schrotenboer, Mastervolt Global Business Leader, said in a press release. "They want to turn the key or touch a button and go have fun on the water. Our CZone technology offers the kind of intuitive operation that is common in one's home or car, providing complete control of the vessel's environment with a single touch."

As boaters begin to accumulate more system components in their GPS, communication and monitoring systems, it becomes difficult to keep an eye on all of these parts at once. This increases the likelihood that something can go wrong during a trip. However, as this announcement would indicate, boat part manufacturers are trying to solve this problem by bringing all of a vessel's various parts together into one unified interface, making boat travel safer and more fun.

If you're interested in finding out more about the latest Garmin GPS technology, make sure to check out the ePal online store today!

Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach underway

The Yacht & Brokerage Show (YBS) is underway in Miami Beach, Florida, and will run through February 17. While the boating industry puts on hundreds of trade shows throughout the year, this is by far one of the biggest. Manufacturers, brokers, marine accessories retailers and other industry professionals will be congregating at Collins Avenue to see the latest yachting models and technology. In addition, there will be tons of food vendors and live entertainment.

Brokers look forward to the YBS every year for one simple reason: Customers actually purchase boats. While other events might showcase a new model from big time manufacturers, very few visitors actually consider buying a new vessel. That's not the case with YBS.

"[It's] always been a good show," James Henderson, president and CEO for the Americas at Ferretti Group, told Trade Only Today. "I think typically we tend to write more deals [than at other shows]. A lot of people say that. I have no idea why that is, but I think you tend to hear of and see more contracts, partly because … in February people are thinking summer's not so far away."

Those who are selling boats at the show are hoping for a big turnaround after many years of recession that have plagued the industry. Typically boat purchases are the first to get hit by economic downturns, so it's been a rough couple years for the industry as a whole.

If you head to Miami and decide to purchase a new boat, or you're just going to see what's available, we recommend checking out ePal's wide inventory of marine electronics and accessories, which will help you get more out of your vessel's communications and navigational systems.

Brokerage sales decline in new year

Yacht brokers are reporting that January sales of boats were down by about 5 percent year-over-year, according to TradeOnlyToday.com. The data was reported to SoldBoats.com, a proprietary database used by brokers to monitor industrywide sales. Overall, 1,635 boats changed owners in January, lower than last year's total of 1,728.

Much of the decline was in the category of boats under 26 feet, which saw a decrease in sales of 21 percent. However, the industry is still looking much healthier now than it did just a few years ago. In the past five years, the monthly average for boats changing hands was 1,559, so January 2014 was still well above the norm.

Additionally, despite the decline in the number of boats that were sold, the actual revenue generated from those sales was 2 percent higher than last year, at $242.7 million.

The industry is hoping that as the economy improves and people feel more secure in their jobs and incomes, that more boaters will think about investing in a new vessel. Recreational vehicles such as boats and RVs tend to be the first purchases that get nixed during hard times. But given the falling unemployment rate and rising equity markets, it seems as though the worst days for the boat sales industry are behind it.

If you've decided you'd rather hold on to your yacht rather than trying to upgrade to a newer one, you may want to consider replacing some of your components with state of the art models. For example, if your GPS unit is starting to show its age, we recommend checking out ePal's inventory of the latest Garmin marine electronics. This simple upgrade can make a huge difference in your boat's navigational system!

Shipping industry forecasting growth in 2014

The shipping industry is expecting to rebound after several years of unprofitability. Reuters reports that while overcapacity has led to a drop in freight rates that weren't enough to cover shippers' costs, but these rates are expected to go up in the next few months, leading to more revenue.

Overall, global dry bulk seaborne trade is expected to increase by 5.8 percent in 2014. Industry observers have said that some of the main reasons for the increase are the Chinese economy and urbanization, as well as falling iron ore prices. The forecasts have led to a rise in prices for new and used shipping vessels.

However, the optimism about these increases is dampened somewhat by the fact that forecasters predict many shipping carriers will continue to have trouble, and that the market is currently oversaturated. Several carriers have already filed for bankruptcy or receivership, including TMT Group and STX Pan Ocean.

It does seem as if the world economy is on the mend, even if growth is relatively tepid. The United States is seeing a slow rise in GDP, while Asian and South American countries continue to develop at a quick pace. Hopefully, these trends continue so that the shipping industry can return to profitability.

For carriers who are looking to save money wherever they can, one budget item they shouldn't ignore is marine equipment. At ePal, we carry a wide inventory of navigation and communication equipment that is essential for operating a shipping line. More importantly, these products can be obtained for discount prices. For more information, check out our online store today.

Boating accident leaves pastor in critical condition

Boating is one of the most rewarding recreational activities, but it can also be one of the most dangerous if people travel without the necessary experience and marine supplies. Even those who have been piloting boats for years are sometimes unable to avoid accidents, which is why it's important to make sure your vessel is equipped with the latest communications and navigational systems available.

The pastor of a Los Alamitos, California, church was critically injured in a boating accident that occurred near Catalina Island, just off the coast of California. Bayless Conley, who is the pastor of Cottonwood Church, underwent surgery to repair soft tissue in his neck and throat, but his vital organs and vocal chords were left uninjured.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that two other passengers, Keith Johnson and Jeff Perry, were hospitalized after the incident. Johnson suffered facial injuries and possibly broken ribs, while Perry is recovering from a fractured sternum, cuts and bruises.

The accident took place on February 3 near Two Harbors, a small community that is located on the isthmus of Catalina Island.

In addition to serving as a pastor at Cottonwood Church, Conley is also a broadcaster who hosts the television show "Answers with Bayless Conley."

Even if you're an experienced sailor, it is important to make sure that your vessel is in good condition and that it has all the tools you need to communicate with the shore and navigate safely wherever you happen to be sailing. You can find the best marine electronics technology by shopping at ePal, the leading internet retailer for marine supplies and parts.

New members of Maritime Advisory Committee announced

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency that monitors and enforces workplace safety in the United States, announced on February 4 that it had appointed 15 individuals to serve as members of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH). MACOSH is a commission that advises the agency on issues related to maritime safety.

The committee is divided into four groups of people, with each group representing a particular segment of the maritime industry. The divisions include management, labor, the health and safety professions and government. An additional appointee was chosen by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Members of MACOSH will provide guidance to OSHA in determining new safety guidelines and requirements for employers who operate in the maritime industry, such as commercial fishermen, shipbuilders and shipping companies. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor and director of OSHA, will occasionally seek their assistance in approving new rules for how workers in the industry should be trained and protected on the job.

Maritime jobs can be particularly dangerous, given how some operations will require crews to operate in extreme weather and sea conditions. As such, it is important for the agency to place particular focus on ensuring the safety of all professionals in the industry.

One of the best ways to make sure you and other members of your maritime operation remain safe is to supply them with marine instruments and electronics that will help them navigate and communicate with shore. These items can be procured affordably when you shop at ePal.

Globalstar launches Sat-Fir,

If you're an explorer, extreme outdoorsman, boater or any other type of individual who spends a great deal of time in remote areas without cell phone access, few tools are more important and useful than your satellite phone. Not only do these devices provide those outside of populated areas with the ability to make phone calls, they are also now capable of delivering internet service and text messages without needing to access a terrestrial network.

However, if there is a limitation to these products, it's that you need a separate phone in order to take advantage of the extended service. But Globalstar, one of the premiere manufacturers of satellite phone technology, has just announced that it has created a new network dubbed Sat-Fi that will allow users to log on to the internet using their smartphone, tablet or PC.

"Whether on land or at sea, Sat-Fi subscribers will be able to maintain constant, reliable connectivity when traveling in and out of cellular coverage with seamless handoff capabilities, while permitting numerous individuals to communicate through a single Sat-Fi hot spot using their existing devices and phone numbers," Globalstar said in a press release.

The company hasn't released full details about the new service, but those who want to take advantage would need a Sat-Fi device and an app installed on their preferred mobile system. As more information becomes available, we'll post updates here. In the meantime, you can take advantage of Globalstar's extensive network of satellites by picking up one of their phones at ePal, the leading marine equipment supplier on the internet.

Boating accident in South Carolina leaves one dead, one injured

One duck hunter was killed and another injured when their boat capsized near the jetties in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, on January 27. The two boaters were making their way back to the dock when their vessel tipped over, causing both to fall into the water. 

CarolinaAlive.com reports that three University of South Carolina students and three other duck hunters who happened to be in the area contacted authorities for assistance in helping the passengers of the capsized boat. 

The incident is a reminder that fisherman and hunters who will be using watercraft should make sure that they are equipped with the marine electronics and communications tools necessary to stay safe. In addition, it's important to follow these safety tips from Ducks.org the next time you go duck hunting:

  • Always wear a personal flotation device. Even when you're on a relatively calm stream of water that presents little hazard and you're an experienced swimmer, it's difficult to know whether there is an undercurrent that can pull you under the surface.
  • Have both the engine and hull of your boat inspected at the start of hunting season to ensure that they're in good working order.
  • Let someone onshore know when you're going to be hunting, where you'll be stationed and when you plan to return, so that they can alert the authorities in the event of an emergency.

At ePal, we carry an enormous selection of boating accessories that will come in handy any time you're on the water. If you're in need of any supplies that will make your voyages safer, you can count on us to have it in stock.