Troubleshooting tips for your boat

In an earlier post we mentioned how the stress of uncertainty can be overwhelming when your boat malfunctions on the water and you don't know what to do, even if you have an idea of what may be wrong. Sometimes having a few troubleshooting tips to fall back on can offer just the relief you need to manage the situation efficiently. 

Here are two troubleshooting suggestions:

The suddenly silent engine: When an engine stops operating suddenly, one of the most typical causes is the failure of a primer bulb. When a vacuum happens inside of a boat's fuel tank, the fuel supply to the engine is cut off, resulting in a collapsed primer bulb and a silent motor. To remedy this issue, unscrew the vent to create some air flow through the engine and pump the primer bulb until it becomes hard again. 

Another time when a simple solution may be all you need for a dead motor is when the kill switch has been accidentally flipped. It's a mishap that's easy to overlook. But if you're on the water and it suddenly comes to mind that disengaging the kill switch may be the answer to your problems, you may end up saving yourself a lot of time and worry. 

The off-kilter propeller: Often, a malfunctioning boat is due to debris. That has been the case with propellers frequently enough to mention it as a possibility here. Firstly, turn the engine off and see if any foreign objects can be removed from the blades and shaft and try the engine again. 

Secondly, if the clearing away of debris doesn't fix the issue, inspect your propeller's shear pin. If it's broken it will have to be replaced. 

If you're interested in learning about some of the best marine accessories that would complement your boat as well as how to troubleshoot unexpected issues, ePal has everything you need and more. Contact us today!

Surviving at Sea: Finding drinking water

No one ever wants to be stranded at sea, but any mariner who is going to be spending time far away from shore needs to be prepared for this scenario. Boats can capsize or be damaged in storms, and if  this happens to you, you want to be sure you have a plan for staying alive until the Coast Guard or other sailors can find you.

One of the most important considerations is how you will stay hydrated. As you probably already know, you simply cannot drink seawater. This will cause you to become dehydrated faster, causing significant damage to your internal organs, especially your kidneys. 

Your best bet is to collect rainwater when you encounter a storm. Outfit your lifeboat or raft with a tarp and position it in such a way that you can let rain drops flow into a container. If you don't have a tarp, you can also use clothing to absorb water, then wring it to extract the water.

It's important that whatever drinking water you have is rationed so that it lasts you until you are rescued. Discover News recommends that you drink sparingly on the first day and consume 12 to 16 ounces each day going forward.

Among the most important marine supplies that you should equip your boat with are safety devices that can broadcast your location to the Coast Guard and nearby vessels so that you are promptly rescued. Epal carries a number of these products from ACR, Garmin and other manufacturers, which will save your life if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being stranded at sea. 

A brief guide to inspecting your propeller

Whether you're getting ready for your next voyage or you're packing up your boat for the winter, it's a good idea to make sure your propeller is in good condition. Throughout a trip, the propeller can take a beating, and even the slightest bump against a rock or some debris can cause significant damage. If you neglect to inspect it routinely as you would any other marine instrument, you run the risk of throwing it, or losing the prop, in the middle of a trip, which could leave you stranded.

Luckily, inspecting your propeller isn't very complicated. Boating Magazine provides an in-depth rundown of the process. Here are some of the most important things to check out:

  • Blades: In addition to looking for any nicks or cracks in the blades, you should also check to make sure they're not bent. Bent propeller blades typically cause the boat to vibrate when under engine power, but you can also use a straight edge to measure the distance between the blade and a fixed point to detect smaller bends.
  • Hub: These tend to wear out over time, particularly if they're made of rubber, so if you find that your prop hub is deteriorating, it may be time to replace it.
  • Shaft: If the shaft is bent, it can also cause undesirable vibrations. Again, check distances between the blades and a fixed point to see if the shaft is straight.

In addition to carrying propellers, ePal can provide you with many other boat accessories so that you can make it to the next port of call. If you have any questions about our products, feel free to give us a call at (877) 245-8649.

How powerful should my fishfinder be?

Whether you're a commercial fisherman or a serious angler, your fishfinder is one of your most important tools for nabbing a big haul. The problem is that many marine enthusiasts don't understand the technology well, so they may end up with devices that are either not powerful enough, or go well-beyond their needs, providing a lot of information they don't even use.

One of the main specifications to pay attention to when selecting a fishfinder for your vessel is the peak-to-peak output of the SONAR transmitter. This determines how detailed the devices readings are of both local fish populations as well as the terrain underneath the boat. Generally speaking, the deeper the water where you'll be fishing, the more power wattage you'll want, with 800 watts being a bare minimum for boaters who will be in small lakes or very close to the coast. If you're a deep sea fisherman, or you're trolling well beyond the shore, you'll want at least a 3,000 watt system.

The thing to keep in mind is that higher power sonar will give you both a more detailed image, as well as a faster readout of what is underneath your vessel. Low power systems tend to lag, so that you'll have less time to react and aim for areas with higher fish populations.

There are many other features of fishfinders that you should take into consideration, but the power of the sonar transmitter is certainly one of the most important. If you're still a bit unclear about which unit is right for you, feel free to give us a call today at (877) 245-8649 to speak to one of our marine accessories experts.

Picking a mount for your transducer

Selecting the type of mount you want for your marine transducer can be a difficult decision. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type, and ultimately the decision rests on how much power and detail you want to get out of your device.

In this post we'll walk you through some of the features to consider when deciding between a transom-mounted transducer and one that is attached to the inside wall of the hull:

  • Shoot-Through ("In-Hull") Transducers: These are mounted on the inside of your boat, typically in the bilge, which is the closest part of your boat to the water. The advantage of this type of mount is that you don't have to drill a hole in the bottom of your vessel in order to use it. Instead, it sends a sonar ping through the hull's material, which severely limits its ability to deliver in-depth information about what lies beneath your boat. The hull tends to absorb some of the ping's power, which means that you'll get a less detailed image.
  • Through-Hull Transducer: Drilled into the hull of your boat, through-hull transducers give you more accuracy, as well as a more permanent transducer solution. They're typically the most expensive to install and replace, as they require you to permanently incorporate them into the structure of your boat.
  • Transom-Mounted Transducers: In terms of power and accuracy, you can't beat a transducer mounted on the transom of your boat. This puts it in direct contact with the water, which means that there's nothing in front of the transmitter that absorbs the sonar waves. As a result, you'll get much more useful information out of your transducer, particularly if you're boating in deeper waters.

If you're still unsure about what type of transducer will give you the best results, we recommend giving ePal a call today at (877) 245-8649 and letting one of our boat accessories specialists give you more information.

Marine Chartplotters Explained

One very important piece of equipment that every mariner should have on-board is a marine chartplotter. This electronic gadget is a must-have if one hopes to have a safe and enjoyable voyage. It’s useful for fishing boats as well as pleasure boats that sail from port to port.

So what exactly is a chartplotter?  Let me try to break it down for you.  All chartplotters use a GPS antenna (either integrated into the unit or as an external antenna) to plot your location on an electronic map stored in the chartplotters memory.  The type of map you get varies greatly and affects the price of the unit.  Some very basic units have no mapping data and just plot a location on the screen so you can find your way to and from a great fishing spot.  Top of the line systems come with 3D mapping that will show you just about every detail around you.  Some chartplotters come with a sounder built into the unit.  These are usually referred to as GPS Combos.  GPS Combos allow you to hook up a transducer to “see” under the boat and act as a fishfinder or depthfinder.  Many charplotters that are available today can also be hooked up to a NMEA network to allow you to use a radar to help you navigate, an autopilot to help take some of the pressure off piloting you boat, wind data if you are sailing, and RPM and fuel data from your engine.  You can now see why having a marine chartplotter on boat is so important.

A marine chartplotter may seem more complicated than other gadgets you can find at the helm because it integrates so many functions.  That is simply not true.  Today’s chartplotters are very intuitive and user friendly.  Shopepal carries all the best brands of marine chartplotters like Garmin, Humminbird, Raymarine, Lowrance, and Furuno.

New Line: Norchill

Hi everybody,

I am happy to annouce that we brought in the Norchill line.  We have every size, from the 12 can to the 48 can.  They keep things meant to be cold, cold and hot items hot.  I grabbed one of the 48 can bags out of the warehouse to test it out.  You see, I’m one of those once a week grocery shoppers.  Try to go from one store to the next for all the best deals.  This usually means my frozen items are not so frozen by the time I get home.  This cooler changed all that and I will be keeping it in my car.  It was nice not having to deal with a soggy box of waffles.

Click here to see our entire line of Norchill products.




Two New Product Lines

Hey Everybody,

I thought it would be a slow new Friday but I do have 2 bits of news for you.

1.  We now carry Polk Audio Marine speakers.  These are aggressively priced and made specially for the marine environment.  You can check them out on the site by clicking here.

2.  We now carry DryCASE.  I am super excited about this.  When I am at the pool or on the boat, I always freak out about my iPhone getting wet.  DryCASE offers solutions for your smartphone, MP3 players, iPad, Kindle, or Android tablets.  Check them all out here.

Garmin Nuvi Price Decrease

Hi everybody!  I just lowered the prices on our refurbished Garmin Nuvis.  These products are a great value.  They are refurbished by Garmin back to 100%.  They all come with a 1 year warranty.

Check them out here.

Don’t forget, these ship free to anywhere in the lower 48 states!