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Decorating Tips

Decorating Tips

Electricity and Water Do Not Mix!

When decorating, be sure to take care in securing the lights and other decorations to your boat.  Lights dragging in the water could shock you and your guests, not to mention what could happen if they get tangled in your prop(s)!

See and Be Seen

Make sure your navigation lights are visible through your decorations.  Also, realize that the more lights you place in front of your helm/driving position, the more difficult it will be to see ahead of your vessel.  Try not to place lights in your line of vision in order to maintain the ability to navigate safely.

Using Generators

Using portable generators to power your lights can present a number of safety challenges.   Carbon Monoxide from the exhaust can poison you and your crew.  Even if the generator is located on deck, fumes could be “sucked” into cabin hatches or ports, filling the cabin with this invisible, scentless, poison gas.  If you have to use a portable generator, make sure you have a working CO detector, with fresh batteries.
Another risk presented by portable generators is exhaust heat.  Make sure the exhaust isn’t directed at a flammable surface, and that it’s out of the way enough that your crew won’t come in contact with the hot exhaust outlet.


Holiday lights may not present a huge load on your electrical system in and of themselves, but combined with all of the other loads being used on a boat full of holiday revelers (heat, ovens, interior lighting, etc), you could end up overloading your boat’s electrical system.  Try to spread the load between outlets on multiple circuits or breakers when routing strings of lights and fixed decorations.  Remember to test everything from generator power at the dock before tossing your lines to head out for the parade.  Check extension cords and decorations to make sure there is no abnormal heat in the wiring.


A lot of folks over the years have implemented themes, even including costumed “actors” in their decorations.  We’ve decided to hold the fleet a bit further away from the judging stand this year for safety reasons, so actors, skits, dances or music will not likely be visible or audible to the judges.

Do you dress to port or starboard?

If you want the judges to capture your “best side”,  know that while they will be viewing your boat from a distance, as you pass the  judging stand, one side of your boat will be visible to them.  This year, the Starboard side of your vessel will be the side that passes the judging stand.

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