I stepped out of the much-needed hot shower – the first for a WEEK – and wrapped myself in a [small] towel. It was an August afternoon in the Western Isles in Scotland, but grey and freezing cold in the marina shower block.
I dried myself quickly slapping on some body lotion and reached for some clothes. But then – horror of horrors! A cold surge of panic gripped me. My heart started pounding as the horrible realisation dawned. I had NO clothes to put on. Not a stitch! In a burst of – admittedly unusual – efficiency, I had put all my clothes, including the ones I was wearing (!), in the washing machine in order to have clean clothes for the next charter in two weeks time when we returned from a much-needed break.
I had been working for four months cooking on a 65ft charter yacht in the Western Isles in Scotland. We were based on the tiny island of Kerala opposite the town of Oban on the mainland. It had been officially the worst summer on record and I had been daily in thermals, Dubarry boots, fleeces, thick socks, hat, gloves etc. The weather had been beyond horrendous – I cooked three meals a day including a plated three-course dinner for 10 people, in daily Force 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s and on one memorable day a Force 11 with 65kn of screaming wind. It was freezing cold and the rain was absolutely Biblical.
I stood there in the miniscule towel and contemplated my dilemma. The washing machine had another 29 minutes to run. I would freeze to death before the cycle finished. And even then the clothes would have to go in the drier.
It was 3pm and there was not a soul around. The marina block was deserted – the terrible weather we had had since May had prompted many yachties to depart early in the season. The marina office had closed at 12 noon. I considered walking round to the bar and restaurant for help, but the thought of lunchtime diners seeing me in my towel was too ghastly for words.
Eventually I thought about ringing the captain and asking him to bring me something to put on. Anything – even my walking jacket would be good. But I remembered he had gone ashore on the ferry to Oban do some shopping and anyway I had left my phone on the boat.
There was nothing for it. I would have to walk back to the boat in my towel. I could not believe I was doing it. The towel was the size of a postage stamp although I did have my deck shoes to put on. And I did have the large supermarket bag I used for laundry, so I held that in front of me for cover. I checked out the marina from the window. No one around. But was there a lech somewhere on a boat with a pair of binoculars? Well, too bad. I had no choice.
By now shaking slightly, I strode confidently down the path and on to the wooden ramp into the marina, not daring to look around, and clutching the bag in front of me. I was very aware the tiny towel barely covered my modesty. God help me if it fell down. Thank goodness we were, that day, moored in the marina. Most of the four months we had been on a mooring buoy in the bay.
A final hurdle loomed. The 65ft yacht has a very high freeboard and climbing over the rail was a three-stage operation – one foot on a window hatch, then on to the rail before throwing a leg over the guard rail. And all whilst hanging on to the towel. It could be my Basic Instinct/Sharon Stone moment!!!! I tucked the corner of the towel in as tight as I could.
It’s amazing the strength one can find in a crisis and I was over that rail in one – towel and modesty intact.
Note to self: Efficiency not good!!!