4 tips for towing wakeboards and water skis

There's nothing like the exhilarating feeling of being towed by a boat on water skis or a wakeboard, skidding along the water with spray in your face and sun in your eyes. However, these towing-centric water sports are also one of the top causes of boating accidents, according to Boating Basics Online. Knowing basic safety precautions will help you get started towing or being towed without subjecting yourself to potential injury:

  • Hand signals: Since it's impossible for the driver of the boat to communicate vocally with the person being towed, a series of hand signals have been developed for this purpose. If the towee holds out a flat left hand, they are requesting a left turn and a flat right hand signifies a right turn. A thumbs-up is a request for increased speed, while a thumbs-down means you should pump the brakes. An a-okay gesture (curled pointer finger and thumb forming a circle, with the rest of the fingers outstretched) is a sign that the current speed is good, while a vertical flat hand is a request to stop.
  • Choose a clear area: The recommended distance on either side of the boat is 100 feet, and 3,000 feet ahead of the boat should be clear of obstacles as well.
  • Have a spotter: Make sure there's someone on the boat other than the driver so that this person can constantly monitor the person being towed.
  • Remember the "slingshot effect": When you make a sharp turn in a boat that's pulling a load, the load being pulled (in this case, the person and the wakeboard or skis) will continue in the same direction as before, crossing the wake and possibly hitting objects.

For water skiing equipment and more marine accessories, check out ePal's shop. Chat with us during the day to help us find the right marine equipment for your needs.

A beginner’s guide to EPIRBs

Whenever you set out for a long boating trip, it is crucial to bring along the proper safety equipment in case of an accident or an equipment malfunction. An EPIRB, or emergency position indicating radio beacon, is one of the best marine instruments you can equip yourself with for peace of mind on those long voyages. By connecting to a worldwide satellite network, an EPIRB is able to indicate the position of your vessel and other crucial information to be transmitted to search and rescue authorities.

Once the EPIRB has been activated, it determines its location using GPS, then sends a signal to a satellite network (in the case of a 406 MHz EPIRB, such as these ones available from ePal, this is the COSPAS/SARSAT system of satellites). This signal can also be activated automatically in case of an emergency, as some EPIRBs are designed to float and send out a distress signal upon immersion in water, and some can be activated via remote control. After the distress signal is received, the satellite network forwards it to the authorities on the ground, who send out the Coast Guard or Air Force Rescue to the indicated position. GPS-enabled 406 MHz EPIRBs have a location accuracy of about 100 feet from the original signal position, making them much more efficient than other types of EPIRB devices, whose location range can increase to over 12 square miles.

Due to the much greater accuracy of 406 MHz EPIRB devices, they have been the preferred form of EPIRB after the 2007 ban on 121.5 and 243 MHz EPIRBs took effect. If you're looking for a top quality EPIRB at an affordable price, check out the ACR Globalfix™ iPRO, on sale now at ePal for 36 percent off the usual retail price.

Night vision: How does it work?

Night vision cameras have numerous uses, from building security, to hunting, to creating a creepy atmosphere on "ghost hunting" TV shows. But have you ever stopped to think about how these cameras actually work? These are the main types of night vision cameras and how they allow us to see in the dark:

  • Thermal imaging: Most of the night vision cameras available at ePal employ thermal imaging technology. While the human eye can only detect a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum as visible light, thermal cameras use the heat radiation emitted by objects, especially animals and people, to create images of those objects. Areas of greater heat show up as brighter spots on the image. Since thermal cameras don't use visible light at all to create their images, they are ideal for use in especially dark areas and can take clear images through fog and smoke. 
  • Low-light imaging: This method works by collecting all the available visible light, then amplifying it so that the final image contains details visible to the human eye. Essentially, the electrons that enter through the lens are accelerated by an electric field and bounced off the walls of a specially treated tunnel, ending by hitting a phosphor screen, where the image is created. 
  • Infrared: Cameras that use near-infrared illumination technology combine receptors that are sensitive to infrared radiation with infrared illumination devices. Infrared cameras are particularly useful for accurately capturing images of fast-moving objects, such as cars and wild animals.

For advice on how to get started using night vision cameras in your outdoor activities, contact ePal today, or check out our selection of night vision devices online.

How to use an ice eater/deicer

An ice eater, or deicer, is a powerful tool that prevents ice from forming on the surface of water where it is submerged. Ice eaters don't actually get rid of ice; rather, they draw warm water to the surface using a propeller, making it impossible for the surface to freeze. This protects your boat, dock or marina from ice damage during the winter, which can prove costly once you're ready to take the boat out again. Here's how to make sure you get the most out of your ice eater:

  • An ice eater can be mounted in several different ways. You can hang your deicer from the dock using two suspension ropes, mount it directly to the dock itself, or hang it from a float or structure separate from the dock.
  • The ice eater should remain at least 3 to 5 feet below the surface of the water and 1 foot above the bottom to allow the propeller to function properly without dragging dirt and debris to the surface.
  • The angle at which the ice eater is mounted determines the shape of the clear space on the surface. To de-ice a circular area, mount the ice eater vertically, or to capture a wider area with an elliptical shape, mount it at an angle.
  • Make sure the ice eater is not left in water shallow enough to freeze entirely; if water freezes within the ice eater itself, it will damage the motor and propeller, not to mention defeating the purpose of installing the device to begin with.

Here at ePal, we currently have all Powerhouse ice eaters on sale for up to 23 percent off. An ice eater is one of the most important marine accessories you can have during the winter, so if you're in the market for one, don't delay!

Lowrance Elite-4 HDI series review

If you're in the market for a small, reasonably-priced chartplotter/fishfinder for use on a small boat or kayak, look no further than the Lowrance Elite-4 HDI series. With nearly all the same features as the larger Elite models, it is ideal for the fisherman who needs a smaller unit that still packs a punch.

HDI stands for Hybrid Dual Imaging, which means that these units employ a two-pronged strategy with two types of sonar for mapping the area and locating fish. The Broadband Sounder sonar is 2D and can reach deeper into the water, which makes it better for fishfinding, while the DownScan sonar creates a more detailed 3D image of the area, showing the structure of the bottom with detail and clarity. These two images are spliced together to give the user a full picture of every fish within range, even those who might be hiding under or within objects near the bottom. 

The Elite-4 models all come with an LED-backlit 4.3-inch screen that is bright and easy to read even in direct sunlight and can be split to show three different images at once. The unit comes pre-loaded with maps of over 3,000 lakes and 1,000 coastal areas — but if you're in an area that hasn't been mapped, the Insight Genesis mapping feature allows you to create your own map using sonar recording. To top it all off, these models were designed to be used with just one hand, making all the features accessible with a tap of a finger — useful for times when you can't put down your oar.

At ePal, we currently have the Lowrance Elite-4 series on sale for up to 23% off. Check out the options by clicking here!

How to use a pocket weather meter

Having an adventurous personality means that sometimes you will find yourself in unpredictable situations. This can be especially true with weather conditions after you've hiked or sailed out of range of cell towers and no longer have access to the most recent weather reports. With high winds, rains and snow storms threatening damage to property or even sickness, staying connected to a weather station's update reports is a valuable too.

However, since smartphones and internet connections are limited in their range, sometimes the best option is to bring a weather station with you. 

A pocket weather meter doesn't tell you precisely what will happen in regard to the weather, but its ability to read atmospheric measurements and provide you real-time data allows you to understand what shifts the weather is taking once you learn how to read the information. Most devices will initially present commonly understood factors like basic temperature, wind speed and your present altitude. Other data points like the wet bulb or density altitude provide the additional information for you to operate as your own weatherman. 

Here are a few measurements of information a pocket weather meter can provide you:

Density altitude: This measurement simply quantifies the density of the air which operates as an important function of temperature, relative humidity and air pressure. 

Dew Point: The dew point is the temperature at which dew would form, assuming all other conditions stay the same. A feature to look for is if the dew point temperature and air temperature are the same. That would mean that the humidity is 100 percent, meaning that you will be sweating a lot. If the dew point is low then you are more likely to have dryer weather.

Wet bulb: This thermometer provides information on how cold you will feel if you get wet and also tracks the atmosphere's dew point and relative humidity. 

The Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Meter is one of the leading marine instruments when you want to stay in front of any weather-related challenges. If you'd like to learn more about pocket weather meters and which one best meets your needs, contact ePal today! 

The value of satellite phones

Not only on account of increasingly volatile weather patterns the world has seen during that last few years, but just out of a desire to maximize the pleasure of your deep sea boating adventures with an extra safety measure, keeping a satellite phone on your boat is a great decision. Unlike the smartphone that keeps you connected to the world most of the time, satellite phones aren't subjected to cell towers that can be knocked down during a particularly violent storm.

Sat phone technology operates through a network of satellites that are either positioned above the equator or in what is known as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) which ranges anywhere from 500 to 1,000 miles above the planet. Not only are they hardly every affected by inclement weather, the bulky designs of the past are gone with newer models coming in sleeker sizes and operating from most places in the world where a cell phone is of no use, overall covering roughly 80 percent of the entire planet.

One of our popular marine accessories at ePal is the Inmarsay IsatPhone PRO. This satellite phone isn't only designed to provide a clear reception and voice, but also to do so in the harshest conditions, dust storms, monsoons or freezing temperatures are just a few of the elements it was created to function in. It also has a longer battery life than any other satellite phone on the market which complements the easy interface, so there's no feeling overwhelmed when you need to use it. Its hands free option and Bluetooth accessibility further add to that ease of use. 

If you'd like to learn more about any other marine instruments or boat accessories, contact ePal today. We have all of the products you need at the prices you want!

3 tips for properly fueling your boat

One of the many ways that owning a boat is not like owning a car can be experienced through the refueling process. Unlike with cars, your vessel has several safety requirements that should be adhered to when filling its tank. Older boats that rely on gasoline can be especially risky if their fuel hoses have become brittle, leaving them susceptible to cracking and spilling fuel into the bilge. And inboard powered boats have closed engine compartments, making the dissipation of gasoline vapor challenging. 

With these and other challenges in mind, here are few tips to remember when refueling your boat: 

Avoid static: It probably goes without saying that static occurring while pouring a highly flammable substance into your boat is not an ideal situation. To preclude this from happening, keep the fuel nozzle in close contact with the fuel deck fill. Furthermore, stay close by to keep an eye on the fueling process which means fighting off the urge to use the hands-free clip. 

Disembark: Once your vessel has been safely docked, everyone should leave the boat and keep a safe distance while the fueling process happens. Portable tanks should also be removed and filled from the fuel dock also.

Know your limit: If you overfill your tank you'll have gasoline splashing out of the fuel tank vent. Sometimes it takes the familiarity with a vessel that only comes with time, but after a while you should be able to know how much fuel you'll need without thinking about it. Also, a tank that is too full presents the risk of fuel expanding and splashing out of the tank on an especially warm day. 

If you're looking to buy new boat parts or marine accessories, ePal has all of the dependable items that you need, and at great prices. Contact us today!

Lowrance Elite-7 HDI Gold Combo 83/200/455/800 T/M Ducer

The most satisfying feeling for ePal comes when we've succeeded in putting a customer together with the right item that enhances their experiences on the water. Whether it's fishing, sailing or traveling, we want our customers to be able to maximize the experience that gives millions of people joy every year.

Sometimes all of the noise surrounding a new product makes it difficult to determine if it's really worth your hard earned dollars. That's why we work so diligently in finding out what items are worth your time and will produce the highest quality. That's also why when we talk about a quality fishfinder or chartplotter, the discussion often turns toward an item from the Lowrance Elite-7 series.

The Lowrance Elite-7 HDI Gold Combo 83/200/455/800 T/M Ducer employs Hybrid Dual Imaging™ (HDI), the combination of two award-winning technologies, to create the most accurate view possible beneath your vessel. The Broadband Sounder™ is ideal for tracking fish arches and lure action while the PLUS DownScan Imaging™ uses an easily understood format to display all of the details below, including the location and size of structures. With all of this and a color display enlarged by 70 percent, this is an ideal product for your fish finding and chart plotting needs. 

What makes this Elite-7 line product worth purchasing? 

The seamless combination of multiple technologies is what makes this a desirable product. The DownScan Imaging Overlay paired with the Broadband Sounder display provides an incomparable view of the activity and environment beneath your boat. Furthermore, along with the fully adjustable color palettes, the technology is further enhanced with a TrackBack™ Into Sonar History feature. The Sonar History allows for the immediate review of previously scanned areas and lets you revisits specific spots for further consideration which saves time and fuel when plotting a course as you can mark your waypoint with just the press of a button. 

The Elite-7x also works with 83/200 kHz and 50/200 kHz Skimmer transom-mount transducers. 

How does this product differ from its competitors? 

The accurate and easy to use navigation that comes via the installed marine GPS antenna as well as a United States background map is one of this product's strongest features. The multi-window display only adds to the accessibility of the various capabilities, allowing you to occupy up to three panels at once to use features that include advanced NMEA 2000 networking compatibility.

Through the networking feature, you're able to share data among networked displays to enhance coordinated efforts. Along with the one-touch menu system and the limited one-year warranty provided by the Lowrance Advantage Service program, this is a device that definitely merits your consideration. 

This is one of those marine electronics items that serves multiple purposes for both commercial and recreational anglers and you can get it for a great price when you shop through ePal!

Lowrance Elite-7 HDI Combo 83/200/455/800 T/M Transducer – No Charts

One of the simple beauties about boating is that it's fun. Whether you're enjoying the warmth of a summer day or eyeing the way the moon's reflection bounces off the water, there are small pleasures everywhere to be appreciated.

Even going fishing on a day when nothing seems to be biting can be a enjoyable experience. But that doesn't mean that making a good catch isn't the goal. We want you to be able to make the most of your time on the water and your investment in your vessel along with all of its accompanying boat accessories. Many anglers use fishfinder and chartplotters to do this but one of the trickiest aspects about that approach is finding out which appliances make for the best investment.

Our choice when customers are looking for a high quality, dependable transducer is often an item from the Lowrance Elite-7 series. For example, the Lowrance Elite-7 HDI Combo 83/200/455/800 T/M Transducer is a top notch product that comes with two award-winning technologies that will enhance your ability to view the action occurring beneath your boat. While the Broadband Sounder™ excels at identifying fish arches and following the movement of lures, PLUS DownScan Imaging™ supplies comprehensive details through a picture-like display that doesn't require any interpretation. Furthermore, the device comes with widescreen visibility through a color display that has been increased by 70 percent. 

Why is this Elite-7 line product worth the investment? 

Overall, what you receive with this transducer is a clear image of the activity happening beneath your boat. But, also, this imagery comes with minimal manual adjustments and the benefit of a recorded history that allows you to fully comprehend the details of your location and to forecast potential changes. 

The DownScan Imaging Overlay combined with the Broadband Sounder display results in a pristine viewing situation that markedly distinguishes fishing targets from surrounding structures and obstacles. It also comes with overlay transparency and a color palette that can be adjusted according to your tastes. 

Moreover, the immediate scroll back option attached to your sonar history feature allows you to review areas that have already been covered and highlight appealing fishing spots, saving you both time and fuel when plotting your course. Through chartplotter models, all that you have to do is press a button to mark a waypoint. 

Furthermore, through Proven ASP™ (Advanced Signal Processing) the manual adjustments needed have been drastically reduced but still allow you to understand what is happening under the water with minimal effort. 

What features about this product separate it from its competitors?

With the DownScan Imaging feature alone, you're able to peruse depths of up to 1,000 feet. With DownScan Imaging and Broadband Sounder, depths of up to 2,500 feet become visible with a clear cut digital representation. There is also an extremely trustworthy built-in marine GPS antenna that comes along with an intricate U.S. map, complete with optional charting upgrades that are available through Navionivs Gold and Hotmaps Premium, Fishing Hotspots PRO and Lake Insight and Nautic Insight PRO. 

The Advanced NMEA 2000 Networking Compatibility is another attractive quality that allows you to share waypoints among networked displays, which is ideal for group events. The page-selection feature, a menu system that gives you the opportunity to access all of these features with a simple thumb stroke, and the the fact that all of these options come supported with a one-year warranty provided by Lowrance Advantage Service program are even more reasons why this particular transducer is a leading product in the market. And if you're feeling overwhelmed with all of the things you can accomplish with it, the multi-window display provides you an opportunity to utilize up to three panels at once to accomplish various tasks simultaneously. 

If the Lowrance Elite-7 HDI Combo sounds like one of the boat parts you've been looking for, contact ePal today!