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On an even keel

Posted by ESC on December 25, 2008 at 11:17

In Reply to: On an even keel posted by Matt on December 25, 2008 at 09:54:

: "Sailing on an even keel". What are the origins of this saying?

From keel, a structure on a boat. See[3]
EVEN KEEL - "State of normality; when the ship's keel is perfectly horizontal and her fore and aft draught are the same. (The expression is misapplied because in fact a fore and aft draught which reads the same is the last thing any sailor wants. A ship which floats on a perfectly even keel can be almost impossible to steer. It is customary to trim slightly by the stern." from "Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions" by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey (Sheridan House, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1995. First published in Great Britain, 1983). Page 31.

I thought the last part was interesting. If everything is perfectly normal, it is hard to steer and thus hard to move forward. Hmmm.