On The Subject of Boating Shoes
In the beginning, sailors and even boat officers didn't wear boating shoes. Not because they can't afford them, but because it is impractical. You cannot climb and stay up the sail booms and rigging wearing shoes: you'd slip and fall. The officers wore boots, until they realized too many literally died with their boots on trying to remove them after they fell in the water. So they started wearing low-cut leather shoes and called them boating shoes. That's when it all began.
The Purpose of Boating Shoes
On decks of ships, firm footing is vital as slippery footing causes accidents and harm. Especially when the deck keeps moving up, down, front, back, sideways and unevenly. As the ship moves with the waves, it lists to port or starboard, plunges its bow, rears up its stern, and corkscrews to make you lose your footing. The footwear's grip on the deck surface is therefore the most important factor in considering the pair of boating shoes one would wear. Thanks to the continuously improving quality of rubber soles and tread design, it seems fashion and aesthetics are now the deciding factors on boating shoes sales.
The Practicality of Boating Shoes
The sun is merciless to decks of ships. It can be as hot to wooden planking of the sailing ships of yore, as it is to today's metal ones. A good pair of boating shoes can thus allow you to walk the deck without dancing a jig. In fishing boats, you can avoid being hurt by nets, sinkers, floats, fish spines or fins, and, worse, barbed fishing hooks, by wearing boating shoes. And naturally, a stylish, fashionable pair of boating shoes will set you apart in a party aboard a yacht, even if the yacht remains tied up at the marina. You must dress according to the occasion, you know.
The Best Boating Shoes
Boating shoes nowadays come in a hundred (if not a thousand) different styles and combinations, not mentioning color and manufacturing quality. Just scan any catalog and you'll be mesmerized by their sheer variety. But aside from individual preferences on color, style and price, the boater must prioritize three factors when buying boating shoes: sole grip, comfort and sturdiness.
The soles of the boating shoes must grip the deck; otherwise accidents will occur more frequently. Therefore plastic soles are taboo. It is difficult to look great if you keep falling down in a boat.
Then the boating shoes must feel comfortable. In fact, if you can't feel your shoes, it is the best, because it indicates that your boating shoes fit so perfectly it follows every contour and motion of your feet. Your feet should stay snug in them but the shoes must be easily removed when needed.
Lastly, the boating shoes must be sturdy though not necessarily rugged. They should not betray you at critical moments, especially in the high seas.