Leg 3, Day 17 – the towel dilemma

Emma Mitchell By
If this row has taught me anything it is to appreciate the small things. There are many uncomfortable things about living on a 29ft ocean rowing boat in the middle of the Pacific with three other people and a lot of salty ocean waves, but the worst thing in my opinion is the state of my towel.
Never again will I take for granted a soft fluffy towel when I step out of my fresh water shower at home. Now it’s bad enough that for 9 months I will have had to dry myself with a travel towel. Despite being quick drying and lightweight and perfect for the odd expedition or holiday they are no real substitute for a proper towel. But even worse out here my towel always seems to be wet, whether it’s from drying myself every time we come off the oars after being splashed, drying after a shower or from sweating in the cabin. At the moment the problem is particularly bad due to the conditions and the heat and the saddest thing about getting in to the warm cabin after a cold night shift is trying to dry myself with a towel wetter than my wet weather gear. In my eyes there are not many things worse than a soggy towel so often I take mine out with me on to the oars, peg it to the grab line in the sunshine and hope for some drying action.
Now I don’t know what it is about my towel in particular, but it seems to be like a red rag to a bull. Every time I hang it up waves come splashing over Doris and it gets soaked in salty water – it’s another of Doris’ laws. I can hang anything else up and it only gets splashed as much as anyone else’s clothes but my towel is a different story.
Now, once the first splash occurs there is a dilemma. Should I leave the towel hanging up in the hope that the splash dries, or should I bring it in before it gets any worse? Needless to say I always opt to keep the faith and leave it out. Almost every time, just as I am thinking that it is definitely drier than before and considering bringing it in, another wave will come along and the dilemma will begin again. Now it’s sometimes hard to keep your sense of humour when the waves are soaking your towel once again.
Yesterday in the pre-sunset shift Megs and I were in this position. We decided that our towels couldn’t get any wetter after two hours in the sweat box cabin so we hung them out. The sun almost instantly went behind the clouds and the splashing began. The sense of humour thought about failing but we kept the faith and left the towels hanging. We had a chill out playlist on the radio but a change of mood was required so we cracked out a cheesy playlist and began to sing. Surely, we thought, with all this wind the towels are sure to at least be drier than before by the end of our shift. Our two hours ended and we returned to the cabin. The towels were still soaking. Another night with a wet towel. Oh well there is always tomorrow…. This morning dawned and it was another sunny day so out came the towels again. Distracted by good tunes on our iPods we didn’t see the big wave coming until it hit us. Then there was an incident which resulted in Meg’s sleeping sheet and sarong coming unpegged from the grab rail and one end of each ending up in the sea. “I don’t want to dry stuff with you any more” she said. Oh dear maybe next time I should keep the towel inside.


UPDATE: We are still experiencing some big weather out here on the Pacific. With the boisterous trade winds up to 24 kts the waves are the size of four story houses and we have to take care not to end up beam on to them. However the crashing waves are mesmerising and turn the most beautiful shade of turquoise and sparkle in the sun. The big bright moon has been lighting our way at night and Megs and I have been sharing our life stories so the time passes quickly. We are less than 400nm from Vanuatu and are managing to hold a better course in the wind and waves today. The salt sores are multiplying by the day so the talc and sudocreme are having to work harder than ever.



  1. Simon TY says:

    Now, that is really spooky. I was 24 hrs late on yesterday’s blog as I have been in London. So I have just a boring rambling comment about the Norm and checking for blogs. Usually look, nothing there, do something else for nano second….and up pops a new blog. And blow me down wiv a fevver, while I was writing a comment on L’s blog, pop back to the home page, and the towel dilemma appears. So my last comment will be lost in the depths of history.

    I say hang the towel out is can keep,you constantly
    occupied for two hours. Otherwise you will just be thinking “should I”. With it out, you have two hours of fun and games watching the waves and cussing your towel.

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    Forgive me having a little chuckle but I know exactly how you feel, though I am obviously in a better position to get dried. It’s just that, I seem to attract the rain. I get on my motorbike in the sunshine and a mile from home I will get hit by a mini monsoon. When I get back home the sun will be bursting and my lady, Gerry, will look at me as if I have grown two heads, soaked to the skin. Honestly it happens too frequently. Your cabin sounds like a very uncomfortable place to be during the hotter weather.
    I imagine the opportunity to go for a refreshing dip, is greatly reduced while you are experiencing those huge waves.
    Your progress remains excellent as do your daily blogs. Thank you. Stay safe. XX

  3. Peter Walker says:

    The blog on ‘what is normal’ made a great starter for my PSHCE lesson today. “When is it normal to get the video out ahead of giving your tearful friend a cuddle?” When is it normal to grab the video ahead of the sick bucket as your best friend retches forward?” We went on to discuss Lesbian Gay Bi and Trans – which is all rather novel for a teacher who grew up in an earlier, less enlightened, era. BLT I can cope with. I pleased to say that my students’ understanding (and mine) is now much improved of LGBT – some very large Pacifics to cross out there. Thanks to the New York Fire Brigade for their great LGBT video – an excellent resource. Keep it up girls – great BLOGs for registration at my Girls School.

  4. I can’t believe what I am reading! There was me hanging out the washing this morning thinking of you all wondering how you are getting along and started to try and compare your day to mine well now I know. Just to make you all feel a little better when I returned to my washing line this afternoon the washing was as wet as when I put it out. No, no massive waves in my garden and no rain just blooming cold.
    My thoughts whilst ganging the washing out included a beam me up Scotty swap with one of you, not that I would have lasted five minutes but just to have the experience you sre all going through.
    On a more comical note my husband would have been quite shocked to see a bronzed woman dressed in pink hanging her little towel on the line and dashing up to the shower!
    Hang on to your washing lines girls and keep safe. X

  5. Mike says:

    I’m fascinated to know who took the photo of Doris?

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