John Jamieson (Captain John) here discusses just why all sailors take off our shore footwear any time we get on a sailing boat: Imagine if you could put the fibers of the rug, carpet, tile, or flooring in your home under a microscope. And be able to analyze all of the stuff you see.
This is the way the dock should look when you’re onboard
This may convince you that one often ignored custom can translate into better health all around. In your home, apartment, condo, or on a sailing boat.
Walk outside and you can bet that every grotesque form of waste known (created by two- and four- or more legged creatures) will end up on the soles of your shoes or feet. And yet, many Westerners think it's silly or insulting to be asked to shed the shoes when entering a home. I believe it makes a lot of sense at home or on a boat.
And speaking of boats...
Not all skippers require you to change your street shoes before you step aboard; but if they do, you'll want to be ready.
Shoe removal can sometimes cause unexpected issues
Pack a clean pair of 'never-worn-on-the-street' boat shoes. I make this a habit, no matter where I sail. That includes a two-hour Sunday afternoon sail or week or longer cruise.
Light weight boat shoes are easy to pack and last a long time when worn just aboard the boat. Push small valuables like cellphones, batteries, and similar items inside each shoe as you pack your sailing ditty bag. This gives you two protective 'mini-compartments' inside your sea bag to help save room and protect valuables too.
Just remember to change back into your 'shore shoes' when you leave the boat for some rest and relaxation. That way, the soles of your boat shoes will stay free of dirt and grime (and other grunge).
And you will find that your boat shoes will last for years with a bit of care. Before you board the boat again, remove your shore shoes and board barefooted or in socks or stockings. This will help keep the boat sole cleaner and the sailing crew healthier.
So, the next time someone asks you to shed your street shoes before you enter their home--or step aboard their boat--do it with a smile. It's a custom that we can all learn to live with for better health.
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