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Lights Aboard

Lights Aboard

Christmas decorations on your boat

With Christmas around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about decorations. While you probably already have plenty of ideas and products stocked up for your home, have you ever thought about decorating your boat, too?

This is particularly fun if you plan to be out on your vessel on the big day, or hosting get-togethers during the Christmas season. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Consider safety

Priority should always be given to safety. Power the displays with care, since adding extra lights to your boat increases the risk of electrical shocks and fires. Do not overload circuits, and check all lights for loose bulb-base connections and frayed wires. Wiring connections need to be free from corrosion, and should be kept clean.

Hang lights high enough that seawater from waves or wake cannot soak them. Ensure decorations are away from lifelines, emergency equipment, and the like. Further, keep lighting connections away from metal support structures or rigging. It is also a good idea to test your decorations and their power sources on land first. This way, you can correct overloaded circuits, replace faulty bulbs, or make other changes if needed.

Do not use decor lights that are very bright. These lights can affect night vision or get in the skipper’s line of sight.

Avoid using a portable generator for lighting and other powered products. These can increase the risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning. Plus, if your boat gets hit by a wake and the generator falls, it could potentially start a fire or burn something due to the hot exhaust.

Think about your boat’s design

For the most effective display, consider the type of boat you have, and play to its strengths. For example, powerboats are longer than they are tall so horizontal designs work well; sailboats can afford to have more height on displays. You might want to try to colour coordinate with the main shades of your boat. A vintage-style vessel will work well with more nostalgic decorations, while for a modern vessel, you can try out the latest designs.

Look for water-resistant items

Obviously, being on a boat, it pays to search for decorations that will not fall apart at the first sign of dampness. Small plastic or felt Christmas trees are a good option, as are weather-resistant outdoor lights and sturdy plastic inflatables. Buntings and garlands made of cloth rather than paper are a wiser choice.

Reduce energy usage

It pays to use LED lighting so that you minimize the current draw of products. There are many great solar products available these days for an affordable cost. Think about the environment when choosing decorations. Avoid using items that are hard to secure properly and could end up in the sea – plastic does not degrade and will harm marine life that get caught in it. Avoid decorating with tinsel outside your boat, since small pieces of it can easily blow off and end up in the water.


By Kellie Byrnes