Charles Stock and Dylan Winter are famous for being slow-sailing exponents of the Wellington boot – that is, cruising in small shoal draft boats without a tender but with a handy pair of wellies for getting ashore or just looking around. There are well known photos of both their boats with accompanying wellies.
It’s an appealing idea – but I don’t fancy its attendant dangers. Where the ground’s sandy there’s usually little problem, so long as the wellies you’re using are long enough and you’ve got your tides right.
But where there is mud, it can be a very different story. I think this is particularly so if you sail along the coast of North Kent. The Medway and the Swale especially have the gloopiest, glueyest brown stuff I’ve seen, and there are many places where even the finest Wellingtons in the land would not tempt me out of my boat. So depending on the circs I’m inclined to stay aboard, tie up to a quay, or bite the bullet and make sure I take a tender with me.
Could tieing flat pieces of wood to your wellies as demonstrated in this wildfowler’s video be the answer?
It will surely help in some places, but I fear it could be damned dangerous in others: for example, I swear it wouldn’t work at all in Faversham or Conyer Creeks, where the mud is much worse than the relatively friendly stuff shown in the video.
Also, walking on these things might not be as easy as it looks, and will need a lot of concentration. This is likely to be a particular issue after a good lunch or dinner – and isn’t that often part of the point of going ashore? For the lone sailor going back to his boat in the dark, I fear using mud pattens in the wrong situation could lead to a very bad outcome at worst and likely a boat full of mud in the event of even just a minor mishap.
The video includes the following ringing warning:
‘Remember that you’ve got them on. The one thing that you’ve got to avoid doing is stepping one patten on top of the other. That results in an immediate collision of your face with the surface of the mud.’
PS – Here’s some of our local mud. As usual, click on the small image to appreciate the full glory of it.
PPS – For a great mud-related story about canoe yawl and Albert Strange Association enthusiast Dick Wynne, click here.