FAQ’s on hygiene, lowering my standards

Alexander and Charlotte Gannet at the end of their holiday, dirty and smelly

Lucky that pictures do not come with scent….

How much time do you generally take to pack your suitcase when you go on holiday? How many times do you repack? And when you get home again how much did you not wear?

In a kayak, there is only so much stuff that fits in the boat. I must really put a lot of thought into what clothes to wear.

So, for the 5 weeks we will be travelling I pack;

  • 1 pair of trousers,
  • 5 pairs of underwear,
  • 3 short sleeve shirts,
  • 3 long sleeve shirts,
  • a fleece sweater,
  • 5 pair of socks,
  • 1 windproof jacket,
  • 1 wetsuit,
  • 1 jacket for paddling.

Yes, I will wear one pair of knickers for one week as well as one pair of socks. It is only bad in the first week. My body has to ‘detox’ itself from deodorant and a shower every day and other hygiene interventions. The next week my body will adapt itself and become in a more natural state. The shirt that I will be wearing in the first week I will also be wearing the next week while kayaking.

A washing line with kayak clothes in front of the tent hanging in the wind to dry on Cape Wrath

Alexander sitting in front of the tent while kayak clothes are drying in the wind, Cape Wrath.

You might ask, do you wash your clothes during the weeks?

The answer is No. But the trousers and fleece sweater have amazing self-cleaning properties. I might have sheep shit, rotten seaweed or fish oil on my trousers, a week later the stuff has vanished, isn’t that amazing? If I think that after 3 weeks my fleece might be a bit smelly, I go and sit next to a smoky fire and all smells will be gone. Luckily, Scotland does not have a very warm climate. Bad smells travel not as far in colder climates. I admit, after 5 weeks of wearing my trousers they are able to stand on its own without me in it.

Well, how about a shower or bath?

We do not encounter a lot of showers along the way. We can call ourselves lucky if we can find some fresh water to wash our faces. Sometimes I walk around with hair that will not dry because of the amount of salt water in it. I must admit, it is a great hair product. My hair looks really healthy, curly and full.

Natural stream with a deeper part, excelent to have a bath in

This was an excelent bath. Just a bit on the cold side.

When it is warm enough we wash in the cold stream. We use a cup and some soap and help each other to wash our hair and body. The most difficult part is cold water to wash my back, it sends shivers down my spine, making me gasp for breath.

If we are really lucky and we find some firewood lying around, we might wash with warm water. That would be, however, pure luxury.

Anyway, cleanliness is so overrated. Only in modern society body odour is unwanted. To wash your body daily with water and soap destroys all good bacteria. This only renders us susceptible to diseases and illnesses. When I come home I must confess that I shower every day (without soap) but it takes two weeks to get used to it. And I don’t feel as good as I feel being ‘dirty’.

Damp clothes drying in the wind on the car before packing for the way home

Damp kayak gear hanging in the wind to dry before packing them in the car for the way home.

Travelling home with a car filled with dirty and damp laundry during warm sunny weather really brings out the lovely horrible smells.

At the ferry crossing from Britain to The Netherlands I just hope that customs don’t pick out our car for a thorough search. Although, that just might be very funny.

Charlotte Gannet

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