In the early days of steam it was often the case that they either ran out of coal or broke down. It was a matter of great importance to the captain and crew that the ship made it into port without assistance, preferably without having to rig a sail. Steamships were deemed as cheating by "true" sailors at the time so to get home "under your own steam" saved them from insults and cat calling. Today, if you make it all the way, sail or engine, you have made it "under your own steam".
By SailingQuiz November 2019 Category: Nautical Saying
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Definition of the nautical phrase "Under your own steam".