Not all that many years ago, boating “bling” wasn’t really a thing. Oh, sure, early craft had it, even if the term was years away from being defined. Stainless-steel cutwater accents will forever be an elegant touch at the bow. Mahogany wheels and rolled-and-pleated seats added rich color and texture in early cockpits.
It wasn’t until recent years, however, that boat owners began to truly accessorize their boats with those eye-catching extras we now know as bling. Sometimes they’re flashy but still practical additions. Other times they just dress up a part that otherwise might go overlooked. But 100 percent of the time, they set a boat apart…and make it truly unique.
Whether your craft is showroom-fresh—or maybe just needs a little freshening up—here are some of our favorite ways to bling out a boat.
Add a Touch of Stainless
When it comes to shiny boat bling, stainless steel remains the elegant, classy touch it has been for decades. Stainless shines, resists rust, and instantly dresses up almost any boat’s appearance. It’s also typically one of the few upgrades that transcends time and trends. In short, it’s a classic.
Looking for a few, relatively simple ways to add a touch of stainless to your boat? Cup holders are an easy swap. In fact, why not make them double-duty? Combination rod/cup holders are ready to hold not just one, but two of many boater’s favorite objects: a fishing rod or a cold beverage.
Like those early days, the bow remains an area to take advantage of the form and function of stainless. Add a windlass for upscale appeal, and avoid the back-breaking strain of raising and lowering the anchor. Don’t forget to complete the look with a stainless anchor.
Don’t overlook the many benefits of a stainless-steel-propeller upgrade. Stainless propellers not only look cool, but they’re also far more durable than aluminum. Thinner blades also improve performance and efficiency. And then there’s the customization potential to consider. The right pitch-and-blade combo can increase low-end pulling power, improve top-end speed or, in some cases, both.
Not so obvious stainless steel additions to consider include a portable grill for cooking up the day’s catch; and what seagoing pooch doesn’t deserve a cool, stainless Yeti dog bowl?
Light Up the Night
In recent years, lighting arguably has become the most popular way to bling out a ride. LED lighting in particular has opened up new ways to add both practical and aesthetic improvements.
On the practical side, consider swapping out old-school incandescent navigation lights for their modern, LED equivalents. LEDs are brighter, draw a fraction of the power consumed by incandescent bulbs, and their sealed, maintenance-free construction lasts longer and is far more durable.
The accent potential of LED lighting, however, is what bling lovers crave. LED lighting instantly transforms a boat, whether used as an alternative to conventional courtesy lighting or to add mood lighting to everything from inwales to cup holders. For the flashiest of bling, LED lighting can even be added underwater.
And as an RGB light-emitting diode combines red, blue and green to produce a wide array of colors, all of the above have the potential to showcase your favorite accent color, or transition through all the colors of the rainbow.
Whether on the water or pulled up to the sandbar, those who like to party with friends know that a good sound system is a must.
On a blinged-out boat, that includes not just quality, marine-grade speakers, but also speakers that come alive with, you guessed it, RGB LED lighting. Dial in your color of choice via an RGB lighting controller, or let colors automatically change to bling out things to the max.
Looking to add both sound and RGB lighting in a portable alternative that can follow you not just aboard, but potentially off the boat as well? Check out EcoXGear’s SoundXtreme Bluetooth soundbar. It combines eight speakers, multicolor RGB light bars, and both 12-volt and USB charging in a waterproof package that can mount in a variety of locations.
Tow-sport fans will want to bling out their ride with accessories that focus on their passions.
Start with a wide-angle rearview mirror. While a spotter is always necessary to keep tabs on riders behind the boat, a rearview mirror will help the driver maintain a straight path and check for boats that might be overtaking from behind. Choices are available that clamp onto the windshield frame or, via suction cups, any smooth nonporous surface.
Wake and surf riders might consider additional ballast the ultimate bling. Used to add wake-enhancing weight to any inboard or forward-facing sterndrive, water ballast bags can be filled and emptied easily via high-capacity pumps and placed in a variety of positions, whether you want to weigh down the stern or bow, or emphasize one side when surfing.
A stainless-steel, push-up ski tow pylon is yet another cool addition, ready to extend and secure a tow rope when needed, then settle back flush and out of the way when not.
Life’s a Beach
Last but not least, don’t overlook those items that add bling both on and off the boat.
Carry-on coolers were once mundane hunks of plastic, but Yeti has now made them into lust-worthy additions to any boater’s arsenal, ready to not only keep your drinks icy cold, but also add cachet to the cockpit. The same company has also made vacuum-insulated drinkware a statement piece in cup holders and on cockpit tables.
Ready to pick our your bling? Head to your local West Marine, visit www.westmarine.com and check out more boating how-to’s and advice at West Advisor.