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April 20th 2024 - 04:10
Main Menu -> Expressions -> Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

With the straightforward meaning of being in a troublesome spot, the interesting thing is the origin of this expression.

The deep blue sea part is obvious - but in this case the "devil" is not the scary guy with horns but the Hull plank closest to the waterline where barnacles and marine growth gather the heaviest.

The crew on long voyages would always spend time maintaining the Ship and scraping the growth off this area was one of the nastiest of jobs.

Both due to the fact that Barnacles are very sharp and cut like a razor and the fact that this was done while the Ship was underway with ships movement to contend with.

To make matters worse, should the member of the crew performing this task happen to Fall into the water a the Captain of a square rigger would rarely even consider stopping his vessel to effect a rescue. Taking could take up to 45 mins and the chance of survival by that point was slim at best (if they could even find a tiny Head bobbing in the sea)

Understandably, being caught - between the devil and the deep blue sea was never a good position in which to find ones self.

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