3 boating myths busted

As with any community that forms around a particular hobby, there are many and various rumors that surround the practice of boating, which can solidify into full-blown myths if enough people in the community take them seriously. Here are some of those myths and our explanations of why they are, in fact, mythical:

  • The more blades on a propeller, the faster the boat. Although a boat with a ton of propellers all over its rear may look like it's packing more power than those with fewer blades, the number of propeller blades does not actually affect the speed of a boat. Drag-racing hydroplanes use only two propeller blades. What extra blades are good for is increasing stability and reducing turbulence on the water.
  • Lakes don't have dangerous waves. In fact, the steep, rapid-fire waves that are common in lakes can be more dangerous than their wide-spaced, rolling ocean counterparts. The fact that a lake is an enclosed body of water allows waves to bounce off the shore and amplify other waves, leading to overall heightened amplitude. You should be just as careful of stormy waters on a lake as you are on the ocean.
  • Aluminum boats shouldn't be used on salt water. The belief that salt water will corrode aluminum is misguided, since boat manufacturers use marine grade aluminum that resists corrosion and can be reinforced with a carefully applied coat of paint.

One thing that's certainly not a myth is that ePal carries all the marine electronics and accessories you'll need going into the new year. If you purchase holiday gifts from us, you'll have until January 16 to return them with no restocking fees applied. Contact us now for help finding the right gift for the marine enthusiast in your life. 

What to wear on the water

Some people like to take advantage of going out on a boat to dress up in polo shirts and flimsy shoes, but if you're boating in any situation other than on a sailboat or luxury yacht in the summer, you might want to look into some hardier boating apparel. Dressing comfortably and intelligently will free up your attention for the things you really need to be focusing on. Here are some tips to help you dress for success on the water:

  • Use layers: Since temperatures can change rapidly over the course of a boat trip, it's practical to layer lighter and heavier clothing. For example, you could wear a T-shirt, a sweater and a windbreaker. 
  • Wear the right shoes: The most important factor in a boating shoe is how well the sole grips the ground surface. You don't want to find yourself slipping and sliding around the deck after an unexpected big wave, so leave street shoes and boots at home, and go with tennis or special boating shoes. Make sure the shoes don't leave marks.
  • Protect your eyes: Boaters' eyes are exposed to large amounts of damaging UV rays reflected off the water, and being blinded by glare can cause accidents, so make sure to wear a pair of polarized sunglasses. These will allow you to see objects underwater in time to avoid hitting them with your boat.
  • If you're a sailor, get gloves: Sailing gloves are useful especially during racing to protect the skin of your hands from the rough use of the ropes and sheets. 

For any of these items and more marine accessories and equipment, look no further than ePal's online store. We strive to provide every customer with the appropriate marine supplies for their needs. 

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!