This comes from when a giant wave would crash over the sides and sweep the decks taking everything with it. A clean sweep of the decks would often mean that the crew would need to re-build and re-place everything that was lost, in effect, starting again.
By SailingQuiz October 2019 Category: Nautical Saying
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What does A clean sweep mean?
What is the nautical origin of the phrase "A clean sweep"?
Definition of the nautical phrase "A clean sweep".