Foul-Weather Gear Round-up: Bluewater Boots

If you’re going to be at sea for any length of time, a pair of high-quality breathable boots is vital. A good pair of boots will also last much longer than a pair made of lower-cost materials using less rigorous manufacturing processes.
Author:
Publish date:

Low-cost neoprene dinghy boots or rubber sailing Wellies like those from West Marine are all well and good for inshore or coastal work—in fact, when combined with a good pair of socks, the latter in particular work great. But if you’re going to be at sea for any length of time, a pair of high-quality breathable boots is vital. A good pair of boots will also last much longer than a pair made of lower-cost materials using less rigorous manufacturing processes.

To see our other foul-weather gear guides, click here.

Once again, it’s a combination of good design and quality materials that wins the day—as is evident in boots like the Ultima, from Ireland’s Dubarry company, an all-around sailing boot that has logged countless sea miles with both racers and cruisers.

Dubarry%20Ultima-boot

Key to the success of these boots is a breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex lining that wicks away perspiration from your feet at the same time it’s keeping them dry—a Dubarry innovation that solves the central problem with traditional rubber Wellies.

Complementing this Gore-Tex layer is a leather exterior that is fully impregnated with a water repellent during Dubarry’s proprietary tanning process, as opposed to having the waterproofing simply applied on the outer surface as an afterthought. According to Dubarry general manager Danny Hulse, in addition to helping the Gore-Tex keep water out, this weatherproofing keeps the leather from shrinking and cracking after multiple wettings; makes it easier to flush away salt at the end of the day; and makes the boots lighter because they absorb less water in rough conditions.

Another problem with traditional rubber boots is the way the uppers can rub against the calves of your leg. But that’s not a problem with the Dubarry Ultima, thanks to the soft lining between the Gore-Tex, which is attached to the inside of the leather layer, and your skin. After a wet regatta in the UK it’s not at all uncommon to see hoards of sailors strolling about the docks in their Ultimas (or Shamrocks, another Dubarry model) and shorts—the boots, which like any good leather boot that grows to accommodate the contours of your feet, are that comfortable.

Completing the equation is a solid, non-marking rubber sole that is directly injection-molded onto the leather upper for durability. Seams in the uppers are also kept to a minimum, again with durability in mind. Never forget that the amount of wear and tear on all sailing equipment increases exponentially on longer passage, because they are being used 24-7. The boots even include anti-microbial materials in the footbed to keep odors under control.

For extreme racers who plan on spending hours at a time calf deep in bluewater there is the Dubarry Crosshaven, which has to be seen—and worn—to be believed.

Dubarry%20Crosshaven-boot-detail

Like the Ultima, the Crosshaven incorporates a Gore-Tex lining, which makes the boot breathable as well as waterproof, although the uppers are built primarily of Cordura, as opposed to leather, in the interest of even greater durability and lower weight. Despite their apparent bulk, it’s nothing less than amazing how breathable these boots are.

The uppers are also taller to keep out blue water (a pair of leather “finger pulls” make them that much easier to pull on when crawling out of the bunk) and encased in a lightweight, water repellant abrasion-resistant gator, which goes around the cuffs on your bibs to prevent water from getting inside, no matter what the conditions. According to Hulse, these gators are just one of a number of features inspired by the many Volvo Ocean Racers his company has worked with over the years and even include a set of mesh drains for shedding excess water (another feature, which comes directly from Dubarry’s work with the Green Dragon team in the 2008-09 race).

Rounding out the Crosshaven’s many features are reinforcements in the toe and heal and what Dubarry calls its “D-Chassis System,” a two-part support system that adds extra support and protection for your feet when the boat is on its ear. Again, these are boots that have to be seen to be believed. 

Related

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more

leadphoto

Know How: Dinghy Modification

The rigmarole of stretching a cover over a dinghy in choppy water prior to hoisting it on davits can become a very wet business if you’re not careful. Leaning right over either end, trying to stretch a cover over the bow and stern pods can quite easily result in a head-first dip ...read more

25980

Catnapped Aboard a Racing Multihull

It was after midnight when I realized my daysail with Tony Bullimore aboard his giant record-breaking catamaran, Team Legato, was not going to plan. The big cat was en route for a December dash from England across the Bay of Biscay to Barcelona and the start of a drag race ...read more