Halloween is a time for ghosts, ghouls, goblins, costumes, and of course, trick-or-treating. Trick-or-Treaters have found their way out of the neighborhoods and onto the docks, no longer following their regular candy routes from house to house but now from boat to boat. Marinas and yacht clubs all over the country are hosting annual dockside trick-or-treating events where club members and those living in surrounding communities can bring their little monsters down to the docks in search of Halloween candy and other goodies.
These events are not just a treat for the kids, but the grown-ups also seem to enjoy themselves. Parents of trick-or-treaters will be pleasantly surprised to find a variety of adult-beverages at many of these candy stops—but the fun isn’t limited to just those trick-or-treating. Half the excitement comes beforehand in the boat decorating and preparation. While many marinas host contests—some even for cash prizes—to see who can create the spookiest vessel, many boat owners decorate purely in the true spirit of Halloween. If you’re thinking about dressing up your boat this holiday, check out these tips.
How to decorate your boat for Halloween:
- Add lights
- Use a fog machine
- Carve a jack-o’-lantern
- Hang pirate flags
- Play scary music
Halloween decorations for boats
Like any good haunted house, a haunted boat shouldn’t lack any of the basic elements needed to bring your vessel to life on Halloween night. As we briefly mentioned, some of those items might include lights, a fog machine, jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkins, pirate flags, a stereo speaker playing spooky music, and oh, so much more. For those of you who are looking to ‘go big,’ tack on the addition of an inflatable glowing ghost or pumpkin to the top off your boat—with just a few bungee cords, you’ll have a new haunted hood-ornament that is sure to turn some heads.
Many of the items we’ve mentioned thus far need an electrical source for power, but your choices aren’t limited to just battery-powered décor. You can hang skeletons, spiders, and bats from your t-top or Bimini, and use dark-colored bed sheets to create a black backdrop to hide undecorated sections of your boat. Don’t forget to pick up a pack of stretchable, synthetic fiber spider webs to drape over doors and across seats. If you happen to have a black light, you can find a variety of options for glow-in-the-dark items, including glow-in-the-dark cobweb packs. You might also think about adding a few Styrofoam tombstones to lean on the edge of your swim platform.
One last word of advice regarding décor: do not use candles, matches, or any source of fire or open flames onboard your boat.
Halloween candy & other treats
Once you have your boat all decked out, your final step is to stock up on the goodies. Candy is a necessity, and be sure to choose a variety: chocolate, gummies, sweet, sour—cover all your bases. Fill the coolers of your boat with sodas and waters. Then, bring aboard a few portable coolers for other items. Pack one with tasty spirits and libations for the grown-ups, and fill another one with water and apples for apple bobbing. Don’t forget to bring plenty of paper plates, cups, and napkins (preferably Halloween-themed) and trash bags for clean up.
Whether you’re chasing around your favorite little trick-or-treater across the docks, or pulling together the spookiest Halloween décor to dress up your boat, be sure to share all your Halloween pictures and videos with us on the boats.com Facebook page.
And for more nautical haunts, check out:
- Most Haunted Fishing Destinations
- Boating Superstitions
- Friday the 13th: Boaters Beware
- Boat Trader’s Top 10 Nautical Themed Halloween Costume Ideas
Editor's Note: This article was originally published October 2016 and updated in October 2017.