What is one of the most important things to do to stay safe on your boat. The answer is to pay attention to what you are wearing or not wearing on your feet. It so happens that one of the most common cause of boating injuries is caused by inattention to what is most appropriate to wear on your vessel. Sometimes I sit on my boat in the marina and I watch folks get on their own or a host’s boat with everything from cowboy boots to wooden clogs.
Now I am not in the business of being a fashion junkie, but I feel that some education for boaters and their guests on footwear will do some good and save some real pain. Besides, are spike heels really a fashion necessity on a boat. Yes! I have really seen that several times and not on fancy yachts but on small, common pleasure boats.
The first loser fashion is bare feet. I know you have seen pictures of sailors and pirates walking bare foot on their wooden decks. I admit that in the warmer latitudes they did. But here’s the difference. The decks they walked were constantly washed with fresh salt water and then scrubbed lightly with ballast stones to keep all slippery scum of the deck and keep it slip free. They were never oiled or layered with anything. It was just really tough skin (Not like yours) on raw wood. Naked feet are great receptacles for fishhooks, dropped knives, dropped anchors, slipping on fiberglass decks and the worst-Slipping overboard. These accidents happen all the time. So, leave the bare feet for Pirates. No matter what you think, you’re not one, even though you fly a burgee with a skull and bones.
Second loser fashion is Flip Flops which should be called Trip Flops. Yeah – folks say they’re comfortable and they are synonymous with water and the beach. Feel free to wear them there but on a boat, they are pure danger. They cause a many a twisted or broken ankle, leg, arm and split head. They have no place on a boat where you need sure footing. So, leave them on the sands. Then again-Don’t! Why? Because todays Flip Flops are made from environmentally damaging plastics and foam. There is an area of the Pacific the size of Texas filled with them. If you have to wear them on land-Not ever on a boat, buy the straw of leather ones that decompose natural.
Never go on a boat with black soles on shoes and hiking boots just don’t cut it and scuff up the decks with black streaks which are a drag to remove. If the weather is getting to the chilly time of year, a good pair of white fisherman’s boots with wool socks underneath are perfect. The ones that reach to the bottom of your calf will do the trick.
Sneakers are ok with white or light soles. With tie sneakers there is an important precaution. Double tie the laces so that they do not become a tripping hazard. That’s is always something to watch for on boats. Especially watch what youngsters are wearing.
The best boating footwear are Docker’s type deck shoes. They look great, wear like iron, have a great price spread and they also have canvass versions in slip on and with ties. Some have very comfortable padded interiors with cushion insoles for those longer pounding fishing trips. They are fashionable and do the job but whatever you or your guests chose to wear, remember, on your boat, you are the Captain, and you are responsible for your crew, from head to toe.
Boating Season is almost upon us.
Have fun, always be aware, and have fun!