Broken beer bottles, rusty mattress coils, knife-like shards of Quahog shells, fishing hooks, forks, spiny box fish skeletons, wafer-thin pieces of aluminum cans, barnacle-encrusted soda bottles, corroded spark plugs—we’ve found all of this and more in the shallow water of Little Assawoman Bay. Step on any of these with bare feet and there’ll be no more beach time or water activities for you for the rest of your vacation.
“But I don’t plan on getting off my paddle board,” you say.
You can’t get from our beach to your board or kayak or sailboat without walking in the water. All of the aforementioned items were found within three feet of the shoreline.
And not all water entries are planned. Maybe your friend accidentally bumps you from behind, or a boat wake wobbles your board unexpectedly. If you fall flat-footed on a sharp shell, you’ll be getting stitches.
Kayakers aren’t guaranteed to stay in their boats either. Maybe your kids succeed in flipping your boat over, your paddle floats away, and you have to walk your kayak back along the shoreline.
The point is, you never know what may come up. Protect your feet by wearing foot protection.
We require our staff to wear foot protection at all times. But one summer we had a young man, we’ll call him Kevin, that hated this rule. Whenever we had a break in the action, he’d slip off his Tevas. We’d admonish him and he’d put them back on.
One day I was talking to a customer in our shop when I heard a high-pitched shriek. I ran down to the beach. Kevin was in calf-deep water hopping around on one foot while a bewildered couple watched him from the shore, their tandem kayak floating away. As he hobbled out of the water, I noticed right away he was barefoot.
“I know, I know,” he said before I’d opened my mouth. “Put on my shoes.”
Flip flops are no good. They won’t stay on your feet in the water. Tevas, Chacos, Keens—any type of shoe with a heel strap works. Water shoes with rubber soles are a great option for paddle boards. Crocs are a little loose for paddle boarding but are fine for kayaking and sailing. Even old sneakers will work in a pinch.
For some, summer is synonymous with going barefoot. And on the oceanside, while abandoned fishing hooks and children’s toys can still find unsuspecting feet, shedding your shoes isn’t as big of a risk. The vastness of the ocean dilutes much of what thoughtless humans toss into it and waves round off sharp edges.
But when you’re on the bayside, save your vacation, your beach time, and the tender soles of your feet by wearing foot protection for water activities.