The holiday season has arrived and in Florida, it wouldn’t be a celebration without a holiday boat parade. During the Christmas and New Year holiday, Florida waterways come alive with festive yachts and boats decorated and illuminated for all to see. Much like the old traditional way of decorating your house for Christmas, if you own a boat in Florida, this is the way Christmas decorating is done.
Boat Parades are a fun way for boat owners to express holiday cheer and ultimately a way to connect with your crew and thousands of spectators lining the route. Not to mention, it is a sight to see, and not just for onlookers. You can expect to see hundreds of boat owners participating every year, often trying to outdo other boat owners in a friendly competition of who can decorate their boat the best. Some owners display carolers singing aboard, others prefer to blast Christmas music. Most importantly though, everyone is having a great time. If you are new to yacht ownership and would like to participate in a holiday parade this year, we wanted to share some important tips that will help you put together an amazing display.
Thanks to our Galati Yacht Broker Andrew Maryott, we have some tips for the first time yacht decorators that will help the process go by smoother. First things first, start with a plan of what you want your yacht/boat to look like; What kind of holiday decorations, lights, and music do you want aboard. If you’re unsure take a look at our Holiday Boat Parade board on Pinterest here.
There are many options for holiday decorating including stringed light décor, papier-mache sculptures, plant decorations, flags, and banners. For a more advanced method, attach lights to chicken wire to create words and images and then staple it to a wood frame. You can secure this using halyards, lines, blocks and boat structures including outriggers, masts, booms and spinnaker poles.
After you have the plan in place, you’re going to want to base everything around plugs. This is essential and typically not thought of during the planning process. You also don’t want to overload the lights or the plug so using a surge protector is a smart decision. Use the surge protector from two different plugs.
When you are ready to start the light decoration process buying new lights is the safe route to take. The saltwater drastically reduces the life expectancy of lights, and last years’ lights may not work, or won’t stay lit long after installed. Also, don’t forget to test all of your lights before you begin decorating your yacht. We recommend using shrink wrap tape and zip ties to help secure the lights to your yacht. When finished it’s a smart idea to leave everything on for a couple of hours to confirm you are good to go. Last but not least, float your work of art with pride and have a good time with your crew.
-Try to avoid lights in front of the captain. It makes it very hard to see especially with it being dark outside.
-LEDs are preferred to minimize draw.
-Follow Coast Guard requirements for safety matters.
-Have a sufficient number of fire extinguishers that are updated and in working order
-Don’t decorate in a way that will jeopardize a working crew. The crew has to be able to perform job tasks such as getting to dock lines.
-Speak to a local marine electrician to ensure you have enough electrical power to sustain your decorations.
– Ensure the weather is cooperative with large decorations. You don’t want to destabilize your boat.
If you’re planning to partake in a holiday boat parade, take a look at our list of top parade locations in Florida. (ABC order by city)