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I launch my 12ft aluminum boat at a pebble beach in Lake Ontario, east of Toronto. Since there isn't a proper vehicle boat launch at this location, launching the boat requires wading into the water above my knees in sandels.

picture of a sandy slope into a lake

I normally have a high tolerance for cold (no pain in toes or knees), but I recently had a lot of pain in my ankles from the cold water, which is new for me. (Jun 1, 2024)

I figure my options for avoiding this issue are:

  1. Wait another month until the water is warmer.
  2. Use hip waders. Take them off when in the boat.
  3. Or, of course, drive 20km away to a real boat launch, where wading isn't required. I'm partial to this spot because it is very peaceful, and I want to boat in this specific area.

Are there any other options that I've overlooked?

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  • 1
    4. Refigure your boat-launching procedure so that you don't enter the water so much. For example, if the boat is on a dolly which goes into the water and then you have to wade in to untie it, consider some quick-release roping which you can untie from the shore. Or untie it before pushing the dolly into the water, so that the boat floats free. Commented Jun 2 at 22:09
  • @WeatherVane a very different approach to mine, which I'd vote for
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 3 at 6:30
  • If the problem is that you still have to wade to climb into the boat, a wild suggestion is to make or obtain a small portable landing stage, made of aluminium. One end on the beach, the other on legs in the water. Commented Jun 3 at 10:06
  • Depending on the slope of the beach and the draught of the boat you might just need a single portable step - float the boat off the trailer/dolly, pull it back in, place the step in the shallows and use it to get into the boat, then take it with you
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 3 at 10:20
  • Another wild idea: take a lightweight plank with you, lay it from the beach and across both gunwales (so the boat doesn't tip over) and walk the plank. Commented Jun 3 at 14:51

1 Answer 1

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For ankles specifically, you might try waterproof socks. The water will get in at the top by wicking through the insulation, but slowly. This should avoid the shocking cold that leads to pain. The brand I use for cycling when I might dip my feet into cold puddles is SealSkinz, and I've waded in those. Changing/removing socks after launching is a lot less hassle than dealing with waders.

Neoprene boots are another idea. Dive boots can have a decent sole, unlike my kayaking ones, and with an ankle strap they again allow the water to get in only slowly. Unfortunately they take a lot of drying and tend to stink after being damp.

Thick warm non-waterproof socks may make it worse, because your skin temperature will be higher before the water hits. It all depends how quickly the cold water penetrates, and how much insulation they retain when wet (holding a small amount of water close to your skin allows it to warm up). Bare feet in sandals might even be better. If you try that, dip your feet in briefly, get out, and get back in.

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  • +1. but I disagree with the last paragraph: I have found that hiking socks will greatly temper the feel of even very cold water (e,g., from a glacial stream), if the feet are immersed for a short period.
    – ab2
    Commented Jun 3 at 20:48
  • @ab2 quite a dense knit, woollen by any chance? They could be better. I've got some synthetic "work boot" socks that are very warm in still air but not windproof, they're pretty bad (I use them on the bike in cold weather if I'm not expecting flood water) . Maybe I need to be more specific
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 3 at 21:13
  • My hiking socks are wool. I haven't tried synthetic socks.
    – ab2
    Commented Jun 4 at 20:40
  • @ab2 my old good ones are wool, but I haven't waded in them for a long time. I think there must be a difference.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 4 at 20:47

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