I wore many forms of footgear while working on tugboats in my younger days, the most popular being cheap, lightweight department-store loafers with rubber bottoms and canvas topsides. I sported standard leather deck shoes back then as well but they were problematic, particularly when it came to soggy work. They seldom dried out between usages and, because of this perpetual state of dampness, tended to deteriorate fast.
But department-store loafers weren’t perfect, either. While they dried quickly and were durable, they had one horrible drawback: after a week they’d start to smell so bad that my tugboat colleagues would routinely and embarrassingly ban them from our accommodation spaces. A cook once gasped, “Either you need buryin’ at sea, Bill, or them damn shoes do.”
Technology’s come a long way over the years. These days I mostly wear Water Shoes from the Maui Surf Company and experience no problem due to dampness, deterioration, or stench-driven blowback.
There are several reasons, according to Maui. For one thing, the uppers are made of a polyurethane material that’s liberally vented to drain quickly—I’d say it takes just 15 minutes for them to dry after a lengthy immersion. Plus that polyurethane is highly resistant to odor absorption, as is the shoe’s neoprene lining. If odors build, a short breather seems to quash them.
But my Water Shoes haven’t skirted stinkiness entirely. I’ve had to toss them into the washing machine a couple of times to keep a whiff from becoming a full-fledged reek. However, they’ve always emerged from the dryer in such an aromatically pure state that my wife BJ, whose olfactory senses are far superior to min, has never complained. And Maui’s Water Shoes are just $40, plus shipping.
Maui Surf Company, (954) 861-3680.
This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.