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BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES ORIGIN

Wednesday January 12th, 2011
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES

When we are told to ‘batten down the hatches’ it generally means that we should prepare for trouble or find whatever means we can to protect ourselves. In the case of bad weather this often refers to the use of sheeting to protect property or goods.

However the original meaning is far more specific and originated in the early 19th century. A batten (as most of you will know) is a strip of wood. When a ship’s crew were expecting bad weather they would use battens (and caulking) as added protection against water thrown onto the ships decks. This would prevent it running below deck via the hatches into their quarters. Early recorded uses of the term in print include:
‘Domestic Amusements’, John Badcock, 1823 - 'The severity of the climate having ‘
‘Chambers Journal’ 1883 - 'Batten down the hatches - quick, men.'
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Comments (1)
27/02/2013 @ 8:52 pm
michael clarke
all cargo boats had hatches through which the cargo was loaded.Before a ship could sail these hatches had to be battened down.this entailed hatch boards being put ove the hatch these were covered by usualy three tarpaulins which were kept in place by bars which were placed in cleates on all four sides of the hatch these were wedged in place using wooden wedges metal bars were then placed accross the hatch and locked into position locking screw located in the centre of the bar I have done this many times and it is always refered to as battening bown the hatches
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