The taste of salt is everywhere on the ship. It permeates the food even before the officers must eat salt pork. It coats hands and clothing and penetrates the mouth as if sailors were swimming instead of floating.
The salinity is particularly strong behind the ears, weaker on the nape of the neck, and in the crevices where the body's natural scent is strongest, the salt pools and becomes unpleasantly overwhelming even to a loving tongue.
Such is the offhand explanation Kennedy gives his shipmate for the tub of hot water, their first night on leave. Hornblower accepts all three.
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