4 must-haves for a successful Fourth of July on the boat

This week, many people around the country will be celebrating America's independence with a backyard barbeque, fireworks displays and daytime boating adventures through their local waterways.

While boating on its own is a great time, being on the water for a national holiday just feels like freedom. Whether you will be enjoying the Boston Pops, participating in fun and games on the Great Lakes or heading to Newport Beach in California for their acclaimed fireworks show, make sure that you have everything you need for you and your guests to have the best possible holiday.

Here are just a few must-have items for play and practicality:

Communication - First thing is first, make sure that you have means of communicating with other boaters, people on land and, if necessary, rescue workers. The best way to ensure that you will be able to get in touch with anyone is by having a satellite telephone on board. This product does not rely on telephone towers like a normal cell phone, and therefore gets much better reception. If you are looking for a higher-end product, consider those offered by Iridium. But for a more budget-conscious boater, Globalstar and SPOT offer affordable and durable models. 

Fishing - What better way to celebrate America's independence than with one of the nation's most popular pastimes? Whether fishing on a lake or in open water, one handy tool to have on board is a fishfinder. This device affords boaters the ability to see below the surface and scope out the catch-of-the-day. One of the great things about modern fishfinders is that many of them now come with GPS capabilities, essentially offering customers a two-in-one package deal. If you are looking for a good deal, check out the models from RayMarine or Humminbird GPS.

Stay dry – Undoubtedly, being on the water means getting a little wet. But when you want a towel or a change of clothes, it's important to be sure those items are nice and dry. The best way to keep your personal belongings from getting soaked is by keeping them in a waterproof bag or duffel. Whether you are just trying to keep a phone or iPad from water damage or aiming to keep your towel from absorbing stray splashes, there are a lot of options for waterproof bags and cases. These necessary boat accessories even come with the added feature of buoyancy, which means that it will float if accidentally knocked overboard. Dry Pak, Aryca and Waterbrands offer an array of products in colors and styles that are sure to suit your needs.

Water sports – With all the technicalities out of the way, now it's time to have some fun! Make sure that your boat is well equipped with all the best treats and toys so that both kids and adults will have a blast. This year, we recommend products from AirHead, Rave Sports and Full Throttle. All three brands offer affordable, durable and fun-inducing products for tubing and other water sports. No matter what tub or inflatable toy you choose, remember to also purchase a new, well-tested rope to attach the product to your boat. Ropes can deteriorate year-to-year, so for safety, and all-day fun, make sure you have a product that will last.

While we are only a few weeks into the summer, the boating season is already in full swing. Make sure that you have all that you need for fun for the whole family. For more information on any of the products listed here, contact ePal Inc. today. Our staff will be sure to outfit you with all your boating needs for the ultimate Fourth of July.

Top trails and products for successful hikes

The second that the sun starts to peek through the clouds and the weather turns nice again, outdoor lovers rejoice. After spending the off-season mentally planning for amazing hiking and camping adventures, once summer rolls around, these adventurous individuals are more than ready to lace up their boots, grab their gear and head out.

And why not? There are so many parts of the Earth that you can only see by walking. And with numerous studies proving the positive effects that exercise has on mind and body, getting out into the sunshine and learning a bit about nature is a great way to spend this season.

If you are eager to spend some time outdoors this summer, here are some of the top camping and hiking spots and some ideas for the gear you might need to bring with you to ensure fun and safety:

- Appalachian Trail – For you East Coasters, you're in luck! This trail is a massive 2,178 miles that stretches from Georgia to Maine. It is the longest marked trail in the United States, a feat that continues to take the combined efforts of over 6,000 volunteers to maintain, according to Discovery. This trail offers the opportunity to thru-hike, meaning a complete trek of the trail in its entirety or weekend and day hikes, where individuals can walk just sections of the trail. If you are considering this trek, you will definitely need a pack that can carry 25-30 pounds, like the ProGear series from Pelican. You will also want to bring layers of clothing that you can mix and match through the variety of climates that you will encounter on your trek.

- Glacier National Park – Significantly different from the Appalachian Trail, Glacier is a National Park located in Montana that has hiking trails throughout its limits. This popular hiking spot, Discovery says, is "known for impressive mountain peaks, isolated alpine lakes and no shortage of wildlife. The park gets its name from the huge glaciers that helped to shape the park's rock formations 10,000 years ago." Not to be missed, especially when traveling through middle-America, Glacier requires permits for overnight hikers, but these aren't in as much demand as those for Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Other than a permit, you will need heavy layers of clothing if you are staying overnight as temperatures can drop very low, especially at mountain peaks.

- Pacific Crest Trail – Sort of the Ying to Appalachian's Yang, the PCT is a 2,600 mile-long trail running through the West Coast. While hiking this trail, individuals will experience Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada.  Hikers will be exposed to canyons, deserts, lush forests and over 50 major mountain passes, according to the association's website. Individuals who endeavor to pass through the trail are required to be permitted in sections. They are advised to carry binoculars to spot the copious amount of wildlife and a water bottle in order to stay hydrated.

No matter what adventures you elect to go on this summer, make sure you have the outdoor equipment that you need in order to be safe and sound. For any major hike, like those listed above, make sure to bring a proper first aid kit, like those available from Adventure Medical. Also bring a communication device in case you get separated from your party or need to call for help. Some options might be a satellite telephone, like those available through GlobalStar or Iridium, or for a more solid understanding a locator is always handy. ePal Inc. has a series of GPS deals that are great to check out before setting out. 

3 must-have upgrades for your boat

Getting into a new hobby or sport can be expensive, but once you find the thing you love, it becomes more of an investment than an expense.

This is definitely true of the boating world. The initial purchase of boat, sails, motor, rigging equipment and other boating accessories is costly, but you know that the reward will be well worth it. Once your vessel has all the necessities, adding your desired bells and whistles makes your boat uniquely yours, plus its just plain fun.

This year, there are new technologies, products, tools and toys that are sure to excite even the most seasoned boaters. So as you look to upgrade your home away from home, consider these:

- Autopilot – Perfect for sail or powerboats, an autopilot installation will make tracking your route and enjoying the time on your boat all the more easier. New technologies mean that current autopilot models have less drain on the boat's battery and can integrate with your existing chartplotter or GPS systems. This season, RayMarine developed a new model of their autopilot system called the EV-100 Wheel Evolution that is mountable above or below deck and comes in one easy-to-install housing system.

- Trolling - For the fishermen in the crowd, purchasing a trolling motor will be a great addition to your boat. An innovative tool, a trolling motor will propel your boat at the speed of your choice while you try and lure the catch-of-the-day. The FW46 model from Motorguide is a foot operated, bow mounted piece that is both easy to use and affordable.

- Weather Tracking – On land or out at sea, it is critical to know what weather systems are at work. Any veteran of the sea knows the dangers of unpredicted squalls, freak lightning storms and high pitched wave systems. Don't be caught off guard. Consider installing a weather station onto the dash of your boat this year. Davis offers a Vantage Vue Wireless station that tells you about each weather variable and is even radio compatible.

While our boats can be costly, they are a labor of love. As we get into the warmer months, spending time on the water will come more and more frequently, so don't skimp on the tools that will make it the most enjoyable experience. If you are interested in any of these products or any other marine accessories, contact ePal Inc. Our line of products will surely have you geared up for a great time on the boat. Not to mention, our staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives are here and ready to help you outfit your boat with anything you might want!

How to improve your boat’s fuel efficiency

Power boats are fun, but if there's one drawback to owning and using one, it's that they consume tremendous amounts of fuel in order to deliver top performance. The fact is that propelling an object that weighs over a ton through water takes an incredible amount of energy – much more than it does to propel a car on a highway.

That doesn't mean there aren't steps you can take to improve your boat's efficiency. Here are a few tips to get more miles per gallon in your vessel:

  • Clean the bottom of your boat: Barnacles and other growth on your hull can create drag that slows your boat down and wastes fuel.
  • Cut back on the throttle slightly: Running your engine at full throttle reduces efficiency. According to Sport Fishing Magazine, dialing that back by as little as 10 percent can reduce gasoline consumption by as much as 20 percent without you having to travel too slowly.
  • Monitor your exhaust system: If your boat is spewing black smoke from its exhaust pipe, then the engine is being overworked and may need to be cleaned. Exhaust from a well-maintained, functional engine will be invisible.
  • Reduce your vessel's weight: This may seem obvious, but many boaters travel with more gear onboard than they need. While you should always have life vests, radios and other safety equipment on board, see if there are other items that can be removed before you go on each trip.

It's also a good idea to have marine instruments on board that provide accurate fuel readings and let you know when your engine is experiencing mechanical troubles. You can find this equipment at ePal for the best prices, so make sure to check out our online store before you go on your next trip!

4 tips to make sure you have a great time waterskiing

Now that Memorial Day has passed, it's time to break out the water skis and go for your first run of the summer. This entertaining pastime is one of the most fun, whether you're a novice or a seasoned skier. To commemorate the beginning of water skiing season, make sure to follow these tips so that you have the best time:

  • Always have at least two people on board the towing vessel. One should be the pilot, and the other should be watching the skier to let the driver know when they have fallen into the water.
  • Before you go on the water, make sure that the skier and the person watching have the standard hand signals memorized so that they can communicate. This includes using a thumbs-up to accelerate and a thumbs-down to slow the boat.
  • It's cliche to say, but keep trying if you're having trouble getting in a standing position on the water's surface. Waterskiing is like any other sport, in that practice makes perfect.
  • Let the boat pull you up, rather than trying to lift yourself out of the water. As long as your skis are pointed straight and up, you should have an easier time getting on the water's surface.
  • Make sure that the skies you're using are the right size for your height and weight. Consult with a specialist when picking our your equipment.

It's important for water skiing teams and groups to have the best equipment possible, especially when it comes to boat accessories. Make sure that your vessel is fully stocked with a marine radio and other communication equipment before you leave the dock. You can find this gear for affordable prices by shopping at ePal!

3 tips for making the most out of your jet ski adventure

One of the most fun things to do on the water is to take a jet ski for a ride with your friends and family. Personal watercraft are endlessly enjoyable to ride, but if not handled correctly, they can be extremely dangerous. It's important to make sure that you and your fellow riders are practicing safe habits while you are enjoying yourselves.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you have a good, injury-free time riding your jet skis:

  • Always have a spotter keep an eye out for approaching boats and other personal watercraft. They should also have a marine radio handy so that they can communicate with these boats if necessary. This is especially true when you're on a smaller river or lake, where you're more likely to be near other boaters.
  • Do not drink alcohol and drive a jet ski. These vehicles are weapons when you are intoxicated and you can easily lose control and hurt yourself or others.
  • Wear a life jacket at all times. Even if you're a relatively competent driver, the fact is that you have no control over what other people are doing. Someone else on a personal watercraft could lose control and strike your vehicle, knocking you unconscious. If this happens, a lifevest will save you from drowning.

If you're looking to purchase safety equipment for your next boat trip, or you want communication devices that you can use to keep an eye on boat traffic, your best bet is to check out the huge inventory of equipment at ePal. We carry the best brands at the best prices and have the best shipping policy on the internet.

More safety tips to make sure your next boating trip goes off without a hitch

Boating season is underway, and if you're considering heading out to your slip to take your vessel for a ride, you'll want to make sure to brush up on boating safety. This will make it much less likely that you'll experience any accidents or injuries while you're on the water, and you can focus more on enjoying your trip rather than worrying about whether you'll hit a snag.

Here are a few tips for ensuring that your voyage goes off smoothly:

  • Carry backup marine equipment: As noted by Boating Magazine, make sure you have backup gear on board that you can use in the event that your primary electronic instruments are damaged. We highly recommend having an extra marine radio on board as well as a handheld GPS system that can be used to send distress signals and transmit where you are. It's very easy to lose gear overboard and suffer malfunctions.
  • Check weather forecasts: Before you hoist your anchor or cast off, make sure that you take a look at the weather forecast to make sure you're not heading into a storm. In addition, you should check surf reports to make sure that you won't encounter any massive waves, particularly if you're heading more than a mile or so away from shore.
  • Equip your boat with a horn: No sailor or boater should leave the dock without a horn or siren that can be used to grab the attention of others on the water. These marine instruments are a necessity, particularly if you're going to be boating in a crowded area such as the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of California.
  • Install a carbon monoxide monitor on your boat: Engines produce quite a bit of carbon monoxide, which is odorless and can turn deadly within a matter of minutes. It's particularly important to have a detector on the inside of your vessel that can let you know if gasses are collecting.
  • Keep an eye on the water surface: Especially when you're close to shore, you should watch for lapping waves and other signs that there are objects just under the water's surface.
  • Leave a float plan with the Coast Guard, friend or family member: Before you head out, make sure that you let someone know where you'll be going and when you plan to be back. That way, if you don't return on schedule and can't be reached by phone or radio, searchers will know where to start looking for your boat if you become stranded.
  • Never drink while piloting your boat: Drinking while piloting a boat can be just as dangerous as when you're behind the wheel of a car. Not only does it increase the risk of striking underwater objects and other boats, it puts you at risk if you're in an accident and need to make sound decisions in terms of how to help your crew and avoid injury or drowning.
  • Remember that boats don't have brakes: When you're approaching your slip, always put the motor in neutral well before you reach the dock. Otherwise you could suffer a major collision that could result in injuries or worse.

If you find that you need any marine and boat accessories to make your trips safer, you should check out ePal today. Our gear selection is the best you'll find on the internet, and by shopping with us you could save hundreds of dollars over list prices. For more information, visit our online store today!

Heading out on your boat soon? Follow these 5 safety tips

With temperatures warming up all over the country, many boat owners are heading out to their docks to take their vessels for a ride. If you're one of these lucky mariners, it's important to remember that safety should be your number one priority when boating. It's a fun hobby but, if done carelessly, can be very dangerous.

Boating Magazine recently listed its top 44 boating safety tips. Here are some of their best pieces of advice:

  • Bring a pair of binoculars on your journey: It's difficult to overstate how important having a pair of binoculars can be while on a boat. It can help you see approaching vehicles and land formations that may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • Go over your docking plan with crew members: Before you approach your slip, make sure that all members of your crew know exactly how you'll be approaching the dock and what their responsibilities will be in terms of throwing lines over the rail and jumping on the dock.
  • Use warping to pull out of tight spaces: If your boat is parked between two others and you can't move forward or backward without hitting another boat, use warping to maneuver. This is where you tie the bow of your boat to the dock and use it as a pivot point to swing out of your parking space.

You should also ensure that your boat is full equipped with a chartplotter and other marine instruments that will make your voyage safer. If you need to upgrade or replace your navigation equipment, your best resource for this gear is ePal. We have the best prices on the internet, as well as the best shipping policy. Browse our inventory today for our latest deals!

How to repair a crack in your fiberglass hull: Part 1

In our last article, we talked about how the fiberglass boat market has seen sales pick up lately. While this style of boat construction is popular, it's worth noting that fiberglass is more susceptible to cracks and fractures than aluminum. As a result, any boat owner who has invested in a fiberglass vessel should understand how to patch fiberglass in the event that they experience a collision at sea.

In this article we'll talk about the steps needed to prepare the broken fiberglass for repair. According to BoatUS.com, this is the process you should go through before applying new fiberglass:

  • Cut out the affected area: Before you patch the hole, you need to cut out the fractured or cracked part of the fiberglass.
  • Dewax the area around the hole: This removes wax coatings that can interfere with the grinding process, thereby making it more difficult to use adhesive to apply a new layer of glass fabric.
  • Grind the surrounding area: Using a 36-grit paper on a disk sander, grinding allows the resin to form a better bond.
  • Prepare the area with masking: Resin has the tendency to run and drip, so you'll want to mask areas where you don't want the resin to stick. Usually this involves using paper or wax to coat the area you want to protect.

Once you've taken these steps, you'll be prepared to apply glass fabric over the hole.

After you get your boat out on the water again, make sure that you equip it with the latest marine equipment and technology available. You can find great deals on the best gear by shopping at ePal, where you'll also receive free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states!

Before you head out to the lake, follow these tips to catch more catfish

One of the best dishes in Southern cuisine is fried catfish, and it's even better when you make it yourself. If you're planning to head out to the lake soon to try catching a few, you're going to want to make sure you have the right marine accessories on your boat. You'll also want to follow these expert tips from Game and Fishing Magazine:

  • If you're fishing on a small river that has rapids, the area underneath ledges where the water falls is a great place to find catfish. This is because the falling water will carve out a deep section where they can hide.
  • One of the best times to catch catfish is at night. Once it's dark, you can use special bobbers that have a light on top, which will glow when the hook is bitten — an important feature when you're in a secluded area, such as a campground in the woods.
  • The best baits for large catfish are cut baits. These are pieces of sliced fish that are great for attracting large catfish even over great distances. Typically, you'll want to use an oily fish, as these give off even stronger scents through the water. If you're only looking for smaller catches, you can rely on just about any bait, including manufactured power bait and even chicken liver.

In addition to using the right techniques to find catfish, you'll also want to use the right equipment. At ePal, you'll find that we have not just the largest selection of boat accessories and electronics, but the best prices as well. Check out our store today for the latest technology that will help you catch more (and bigger) fish!