The Leech Stands Altogether Better 

During the winter the Blue Mermaid’s sails went to Steve Westwood’s loft for some attention. They had two relatively full seasons’ and a short covid season’s wear. 2021 had been hard on them with plenty of wind and days under way. The mainsail particularly needed some patching.


We also sought Steve’s advice about what to do about our wafferty mainsail leech. We had peaked up the sprit pulling down the collar first, then taking a link out of the standing lift, and still the leech wobbled. So we had to look at the sail itself. Of course, there was the possibility of separating the bolt rope and sail and tensioning anew, but before going to the expense and effort Steve suggested an old sailmaker’s trick of effectively tightening the boltrope by inserting a line through its core. In fact, this could be the first time it has been shared outside the freemasonry of the brotherhood and a fork of lightening may well soon short out this internet connection.


This trick we did while dressing the sails on Hythe Quay. This annual ritual fascinates passers by even though there is usually the odd one or two impatient enough to take a Pirelli or a Michelin across a piece of valued sailcloth rather than wait for it to be moved, or even move it themselves. The barges at Maldon are fortunate to have a Council which supports the heritage of the district in its use of the quay area.


The proof of the insert is for all to see, and the leech stands far better than before. Above it all is a new bob made by Dawn Franklin.