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Boat Decorating Tips

Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce Lighted Boat Parade Decorating Tips and Information and Spectator Locations

The Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce encourages vessels of any size to participate in this coastal Christmas tradition! Sailing yachts, motor yachts, fishing boats, pontoon boats, shrimp boats, canoes and kayaks or personal watercraft ~ there is a category and an invitation to joint this festive flotilla!

Here are a few tips and tricks to decorate your entry. . . planning ahead is always a good idea for both the spectator and the participant. Many area marinas, restaurants and public areas offer a great view of the parade route as it winds its way from the small boat harbor in front of White Sands Restaurant in Port Isabel, past Pirates Landing and the Pirates Landing Fishing Pier, over to Long Island Village where it turns around at Sea Ranch Marina II and heads for the entertainment district on South Padre Island at Louie’s Backyard, Wahoo’s, Amberjack’s and Coconuts.

Methods for decorating your boat (power or sail)
The most aggressive method is to lash a gasoline generator to your deck. You can power almost any amount of lights and decorations, depending on the size of the generator. One successful technique involved the use of lighted Christmas lawn ornaments stragetically placed on a shrimp boat.

Disadvantages: While using a generator gives you the advantage of being able to use a greater number of lights and decorations, it does have some drawbacks. Some generators can be loud and can restrict your ability to hear and the limited availability of generators to rent or borrow can be a challenge if your boat isn’t already equipped with one.

The next method involves is the use of an inverter if you have an inboard engine. Inverters invert the power from your engine’s DC current to AC. If you have an outboard engine without electric start, an inverter probably will not regenerage the onboard batteries. Inverters can be purchased at local marine suppliers. Make sure to purchase the correct inverter for your vessel. Add up the amount of watts that you intend to power and obtain an inverter with extra wattage.

Advantages: An inverter is simple to use and uses the power your engine is already generating. It is quieter than an generator and boat engine running at the same time. When not using the inverter for decorating your vessel, you can use some of your 110 volt items from home providing you have purchased the correct size inverter.

Disadvantages: Inverters range in price depending on how many watts you want to generate. The more watts you require, the more money you will have to spend. If you have an underrated inverter, you may find you’re withou lights in 20 – 30 minutes because the inverter’s safety feature will shut it down.

Twelve volt lights can be powered directly from your boat’s starting battery or extra batteries can be used. Boat lights, automotible, flashing lights, etc. can be powered with this method. 12 volt lights can be purchased at auto and boat supplies retailers.

The most basic method involves Chinese lantern type decorations which you can light with flashlights. String them around your boat to create an effective and impressive presentation. Crew members can also dress in costume. Or take advantage of modern technology and use light sticks to decorate yourselves and your boat. Your budget or vessel size can work in your favor as the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

For more information, contact the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce at 956/943-2262 or email