Halloween is a time for ghosts, ghouls, goblins, costumes, and of course, the all-American custom of trick-or-treating, which is now a firm part of the celebration in this country as well. In the US, trick-or-treaters have found their way from the streets onto the pontoons, and where America leads we often follow, right?

Marinas and yacht clubs all over the US are hosting annual trick-or-treating events where club members and those living in surrounding communities can bring their little monsters down to the water 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. 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.

So why not ensure you're ahead of the trend and consider decorating your boat this Halloween. Here are a few handy tips and ideas from Kim Koditeck on our US team.

This fabulous pumpkin, as shared by Houseboat Magazine.

This fabulous pumpkin, as shared by Houseboat Magazine.

How to decorate your boat for Halloween:

  1. Add lights.

  2. Use a fog machine.

  3. Carve a pumpkin to make a lantern.

  4. Hang pirate flags.

  5. Play scary music.

Halloween decorations

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, 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.

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 fibre 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.

A few examples of boats decorated in America, images from Houseboat Magazine.

A few examples of boats decorated in America, images from Houseboat Magazine.

Halloween sweets and treats

Once you have your boat all decked out, your final step is to stock up on the goodies. Be sure to choose a variety of sweets: chocolate, gummies, sweet, sour—cover all your bases. Fill the coolers of your boat with drinks. Then, bring aboard a few portable coolers for other items. Pack one with tasty spirits and drinks 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 rubbish bags for cleaning up.

Whether you’re chasing around your favourite 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.

Think this is all a bit too much and too 'American' for your tastes, well the handy ideas will work as well for the house too.


Written by: Gael Pawson
Gael Pawson is the editor of Yachts & Yachting Magazine and the founder of Creating Waves. A keen racer, she has sailed all her life, and started writing about the subject whilst studying journalism at university. Dinghies and small keelboats are her first loves, but she has cruised and raced a huge variety of boats in locations across the world.