Why Ship Sides Are Called PORT And STARBOARD | Sailorinsight
Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Why Ship Sides Are Called PORT And STARBOARD

Why Ship Sides Are Named PORT And STARBOARD

We received many valuable messages of yours asking us to write on more such interesting topics. So here we go with our next article.

Ever wondered why the terms “Port” and “Starboard” is used to denote Left and Right side of ships? Well, we wondered and went on to find the answer for you. Read on to know the interesting story behind it:

During earlier days, boats/ships used to have rudders on their center line. Boats/ Ships were controlled using a steering oar. As it is very common that most of the people are right-handed in the world. Similarly, most of the sailors were right-handed, so the steering oar used to control the ship was placed over or through the right side of the stern. Thus most of the sailors used to call the right side as the “Steering Side”, which soon became “Starboard”. The word “Starboard” is formed by combining two old words: stéor (meaning “steer”) and bord (meaning “the side of a boat”).

As the size of ships grew, so did the steering oar, making it much easier to make fast a ship to a dock on the side opposite the oar. This side was known as “larboard”, or “the loading side.” As the time passed, it became evident that “larboard” is very easily confused with “starboard” during communications. Hence it was replaced with the word “port” as this was the side that faced the port, allowing cargo to be loaded or discharged.

That is how the terms “Port” and “Starboard” came into existence.

Since “Port” and “Starboard” never change. They are unambiguous references that are independent of a mariner’s orientation. Thus removing the chances of any ambiguity. Hence Sailors prefer to use these nautical terms instead of left and right to avoid confusion.

Hope this was an interesting read for you. Do let us know your views…!!

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