Flip-Flop Safety

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Okay, this might be a little off subject, but I’ve been thinking about posting this for a while. Just to establish my credentials, I am pretty serious about flip-flops, AKA zoris, flippies, etc. You might even say I’m something of a flip-flop geek. I’ve tried nearly every brand and like to keep up with any advances flip-flop technology. In some cases, especially in summer, I consider them formal wear. And I’ve pretty much settled on the Patagonia ReFlip as my go-to flip-flop of choice. It’s light, comfortable, molds to the foot, has good traction and is recyclable. All good.

But in and around saltwater, I prefer an all-rubber flip-flop. The reason being, anything that absorbs water (sole, footbed or straps) tends to hold salt, which means it almost never dries out, at least in our climate. Which means…serious stink. I mean, bad. Intolerably bad. So the solution is a flippy that’s made entirely of rubber, including the toe piece and strap. Not easy to find. But these old (8 years) Crocs fit the bill. No absorption, no odor.

The only issue, and it’s a pretty serious one, is the tendency of Crocs to hydroplane on even the thinest layer of water. If you wear Crocs, you’ve probably experienced the little skid-out on a wet sidewalk or wood deck. Not a huge deal. But it’s a little different in boats. I know a guy who experienced the hydroplane effect when fishing by himself out in the Sound. Went completely overboard. Thankfully he was able to haul himself back aboard, but it made me think about fishing in my Crocs. But not enough. I pretty much chalked it up to carelessness and kept wearing my fishing flippies.

Then, last year, I stepped down off the dock into a buddy’s boat just after he’d hosed off the deck. My trusty Crocs flippies went into full hydroplane and I flailed wildly, throwing fishing rods and gear bags, until, inevitable, I went down. Hard. Elbow hit the gunwale and, still flailing, I somehow bounced into an angle where the back of my head clipped the fish box before settling on the deck. To anyone watching, I’m sure it was the best thing they saw all day. I survived with just a few ugly bruises to my arm, head and back, not to mention ego. But, lesson learned.

A few months later, I was working on our boat and had an idea. Why not put a little sticky tread in a pattern that would break up the hydroplane on the bottoms of the Crocs? This was inspired by a small caulking job that involved the most bulletproof stuff made, 3M’s famous 5200. So I grabbed the Crocs flippies and just free-handed a few bands of the 5200 across the bottom in a widely spaced pattern. Voila!

I’ve been testing ’em now for almost a year, in our boat and others, with vinyl, fiberglass and wood decks. Wet, dry, fish slimed, etc. And the grip is awesome. I’m not saying it’s the prettiest solution, or that you’ll never slip again, but it’s cheap and effective. My kind of fix.

So…I offer this to anyone wearing flippies or sandles that tend to skid out on wet surfaces in the hopes that it’ll keep you from being someone else’s story. (I’m sure people who saw me go down in my buddy’s boat are still telling the tale a year later.) Hope this helps someone. Good luck.

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