Boat Decorating Option-Christmas Lights

We have a lighted boat parade every year here in the harbor, and the kayaks bring up the rear after the sailboats and power boats. I would like help with some ideas on how to decorate/light my boat for Christmas. Thanks!


Boat parade
We have something like that, veeeeery cool.

I’m planning on being there this next one too.

deck the hull
About 10 years ago during Christmas season my wife and I drove from Duluth to the Everglades with our old 17’ Grumman canoe on the roof racks. I couldn’t resist decorating the canoe for the trip. I had a 300 watt inverter and that was enough to power a couple strings of multicolor mini-lights that I duct taped along the keel and the shearline. It definitely was noticed going down the interstate each evening. My wife wouldn’t let me light up until she wsa sure she was a long way away from everyone she knew.

Anyway if I was to light up a kayak I’d borrow a charged deep cycle battery from a fishing friend, and get a hold of an inverter that has alligator clips to draw off the 12 volt battery. Make sure the boat is dry and duct tape maybe gold mini-lights to the shearlines and the cockpit. Figure out a way to temporarily mount brackets to the front and back decks using the bungee holders and hang a small Christmas light sculpture from each bracket - maybe wreaths or poinsettias. Make sure the combined wattage of your lights can be handled by your inverter. The heavy battery should go below deck and the inverter needs to be located conveniently to turn it on or off. Hope this helps and have fun with this project.

Lighting options
you can get battery powered lights. I’d prefer LEDs but one place to look is:

No affiliation, blah, blah…

you might NOT
want to put lights on your paddle blades

Kayak Lights
Don’t miss these:


Xmas or 4th of July?
Ummm, I don’t know what current limiting and short circuit protections come with inverters but I don’t think I want to play with 120 volt AC in a kayak or canoe regardless.

The suggestion to use an inverter and household decorations does not sound like a good idea.


I agree about the inverter
I am thinking about a 12-volt motorcycle battery behind the seat, running a line out from under the spray skirt in back and using a 12-volt rope light around the perimeter of the boat. Anyone ever do that? I don’t want to mess with 110 volts on the water.


i have a string of Christmas lights I picked up for a similar project. They work off of 2 D cell batteries.


– Last Updated: Nov-16-05 6:07 AM EST –

Put high powered flashlights in your compartments, makes the whole boat glow! Just be sure not to use lights so powerful that they get too hot!

They have strings of 12 volt lights
Just checked the site. They have 12’ strings of 12 volt lights, with cigarette lighter plug.

Clip off plug. Add ring terminals. Hook to battery.

There you glow.

Not bright enough
I have used D-cell lights before, and they are not bright enough to be seen at a distance. In fact, the lights at the end of the string barely light at all. They were red plastic cranberry-sized lights.


Internal Lighting for Rudolph
I am beginning to lean this way. I’ve done it before, but my boat is carbonlite with a red deck, and it takes a heck of a strong light to illuminate it. I was thinking about 9-volt flashlights. I wonder how long they last?

Illuminated from within, with maybe a guardian light in red clipped to his nose, and she could be Rudolph! I could put strategically placed antlers on the front (that could double for outriggers! hee hee ) and a pair of eyeballs. I think I have my theme now!


Might Try
to use some LED lamps and a small 12V battery. The LEDs would draw a bunch less current than a normal incandesant lamp like a flashlight bulb. A small 12 volt battery like one from a motorcycle would be able to deliver much more power than a D cell. You should be able to drive many LED lamps for a long time using this method. LEDs are commonly available in red and green and 12VDC.

When you attempted to string several incandesants together it sounds as if you may have asked for more current than the D cell was able to provide.

Happy Paddling,


Little LEDs
Have you seen the little twinkling, multi color LEDs that the hawkers sell at carnivals? I think you should be able to find them in novelty shops or on-line. Some have stick on backs. They run on tiny button batteries. I don’t know what kind of price you could get for buying a display card full of them, but you would really stand out as a decoration with them.


Plexiglass christmas tree (Or shape of your choice) bungee to the hull (Glue a base on the plexiglass)

Once the shape has been selected, tape or drill mounting holes for the lights to the plexiglass. You can also add a lot of color outside of the lights using the translucent paints Hobby Lobby sells for Glass vases…then light the painted area with the lights…

I followed the line of Boats at a local parade with a plexiglass christmas tree lit with the words…

“The End”

how does the light in Platypus work
I bought one at Lee’s which a clear strip of plastic that attaches to a battery - the whole thing slides into the back of the Platypus (brand) water backpack thing. When it is turned on - the clear plastic thing is either all red or blinking red. I wore it about the condo complex on halloween night just for fun - but I was seriously considering adding a bit of bourbon to my bottled water.

There ought to be a similar way to use this sort of system for decorating a canoe/kayak for the holidays.

Meanwhile my brother, decorated the dashboard of his truck with little gold lights, witches, and pumpkins and things with one of those battery operated things - under $5.00. Not a lot of light but I’m thinking the battery operated part could slip into a waterproof bag and the wires might be thin enough not to compromise the battery portion. Maybe not a lot of light - but perhaps easy.

Pnet classic
Who can forget Wendy’s decorated boat.

Cold and Dark
Oh yeah, but remember Cold and Dark in the Pacific Northwest at Christmastime.

Getting some good ideas though . . .


I Looked Around
a little and found a couple of 12VDC LED strings. You can look at them at

Scroll down to the LS1 and LS2 strings. They are 10 and 20’ strings, either 18 or 36 LEDs per string. Lamps can be a Red/Green/Yellow mix or Red/Green mix, or all red, all green, or all yellow. Cost is reasonable at 18 for the small set.

The power consumption is very low, and the heat is very low. You could run several of these sets for days on a motorcycle battery. Or for several hours on two 6Volt lantern batterys hooked up in series.

Have Fun,