Monday, October 17, 2011

Those Boats, Those Boots

At 06:00, the boxer puppy barfed on me for the second time since midnight.  It was December of 2002, close off the coast of Ireland, and we had anchored the evening before.  I was the guest aboard the boat that belonged to the father of my close friend.  His father had made good during the huge up-swing of the Celtic Tiger, and was within a year of retiring.  In fact, they had all done well.  They were smart and hard-working, and all in their twenties.  I had raced with many of them back in Boston and around the northeast, and I took the two weeks before Christmas for a visit to Dublin and the coasts.  

Their father slept aft in the larger berth, my friend and his brother in the bow, and I took one of the mid-ships bunks.  The puppy was sea-sick, and had spent the entire night breaking wind and whining.  After it puked on me for the second time, I decided to get up.

Within an hour, we (minus the puppy) planned a trip to one of the small islands nearby.  The father stayed aboard “to care for the dog”, which obviously meant that he intended to sleep for a while longer.  The boat’s tender was a long (17-or-so feet) Whitehall with two sets of oarlocks, a small sail rig, and a sturdy rudder.  We lowered some things into it and argued over which two would row, and who got to sit holding the tiller.  I ended up as one of the rowers.

We pulled hard through the nasty gray winter drizzle that (of course) had turned to rain the moment we set out.  Towards the lee-shore we stretched out the oars, my friend in the stern steering us along and laughing as he sarcastically shouted out rowing commands.  Jerk.

The tender ran up to the pebbly beach and we dragged it ashore.  After hiking a small grass path, we came to the ruins of an old structure that provided a half-roof under which we could cower, while my friend started up his Whisperlite camping stove (bought in Freeport, Maine the summer before).  Within minutes, the tiny kettle was boiling, and we steeped our Assam tea.  From his pocket, the brother produced some scones in a plastic zip-bag, and we sat on the broken and rotting beams and dunked the scones into the piping hot tea and laughed about the poor dog. 

We hiked the small island for a while, feet warm and dry, and returned to the tender.  Again, I lost the bid to steer, but I did secure the aft-most rowing position, and my friend had to absorb the wind and spray across his back instead of mine, while the brother quietly steered, facing into the wind.  It was a rough pull to windward, and when we finally muscled alongside the boat, we remembered that we had left the small camping stove in the ruins back on the island.  At least I was able to man the tiller once.

I was borrowing a pair of Dubarry boots for the trip.  I had never even heard of them, though the father and two boys each had two pair, and took sympathy on me for my (perfectly adequate, thank-you-very-much) winter Wellies.  A few months later, I was fitted for a pair, and my feet were happier for the switch.  

I have worn them on bird hunts, at miserable and hopelessly muddy outdoor events, and on the VERY few occasions when I get guilted into serving on race committee during the fall or early winter.  They are pricy buggers, but the cost is appropriate.  They are warm, dry, soft, and sturdy.  They don’t feel like heavy boots, and they are both breathable and absolutely water-proof.  Thankfully, unlike other boots, they tend to remain on the feet of those who use them for their intended purposes, and are only occasionally seen going from an SUV to a chain coffee shop.

Anytime Dubarry has a booth at a show or convention, their salespeople perform this this cutesy demonstration.

They are funny looking, but they work.  The hover somewhere in the $400 - 500 range (location depending) and the company is pretty good to deal with.  I have never walked city streets with them on, even during winter.


  1. Duberry's are very long lasting and quite the value for the money. I wear my grandfathers Duberry paddock boots whilst at our country place. He purchased them sometime in the 1950's. When sailing about the Hebrides, I again wear his old Crosshavens. I am so glad you are a recent convert. You will enjoy them for years!

  2. I always love your storied posts. Thank you.

  3. This is actually interesting, You’re some sort of overly knowledgeable reddit.


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