Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An Ounce of (footing) Protection

Here's the idea in progress.  It looks a bit nicer when the loose
gravel is removed, and isn't hard on the bottom of the canoe
as I had feared.

I reported back on January 2nd, how I had broken my tailbone on New Year’s Day while trying to start the year off with a bang.  It wasn’t quite the kind of bang I had had in mind. 

I tried to use one of the steepest ramps in the area, because the shoreline wasn’t accessible due to riprap.  The ramp was covered with slime after not being used for months.  While trying to step from the canoe, my feet flew out from under me faster than if I’d been on ice.  While forced to endure a forced period of inactivity for healing, I tried to explore how the injury could have been prevented. 

The problem was that I was using Crocs for water shoes.  Crocs have taken some recent steps to remedy their reputation for having no footing.  While they would appear to be a perfect solution to the need for water shoes, they in fact have been cited countless times by actual users for their failures in not providing foot protection or surefootedness.  I had begun to use them just in winter, because they fit well over the feet of my drysuit.  During the summer, I use proper Stohlquist Tideline booties.  So, the question remained as to what could be used in winter over my drysuit booties.  I wrote to REI with that question.  They recommended three solutions:
In all of these, they recommended going a size larger than normal to accommodate the drysuit.
Now that you’ve been given the ‘right’ way of solving the problem, the Scotsman in me has to admit that, as always, I went looking for an ‘economical’ solution to the problem.  This comes from my habit of NEVER throwing anything away if there’s a way of redeeming some remaining value from it.  To begin with, in fairness to Crocs, while they lack good footing even when new, these were several years old so were even more slippery than normal.  I wanted to add non-skid to the bottom of the shoes.  As most men, I believe that many of the world’s ills can be cured with either Duct tape or epoxy.  I couldn’t make a solid coating of epoxy on the sole of the shoe, because that would lead to cracking of either the epoxy or the shoe’s sole.  If I put non-skid only on the highest treads, the rubber in between would allow the shoe to perform normally while the non-skid would provide good traction.  For the non-skid, I went out on one of our country roads and scooped up a few pounds of gravel.  After a few screenings, I was left with something a bit more course than 36 grit sandpaper.  I brushed epoxy onto the shoe treads and then rolled the soles in the grit.  After I was able to be up and about somewhat comfortably, I went back to the ramp and tried out my new ‘slime busters’.  Now you have two options.  If you don’t have any water shoes, by all means get proper shoes. However, if you have old shoes that you think you can redeem, this solution actually works quite nicely.  I would still never try using this approach while trying to walk on or over rocks, but for just making it down a slimy ramp in one piece, it works.

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