I believe I do have a timeline of events that you might find elucidative.
They debate whether or not to wash beforehand, knowing that they haven’t washed for some time. Vanessa claims that it has got to the stage that she can pick out Queenie’s “note” from the other end of the boat.
Queenie asks what sort of note she means, but Vanessa points out that no possible answer to the question would not cause offence. Queenie suggests that “violets” would be an acceptable answer and Vanessa scoffs at her friend’s optimism.
They resolve to wash.