What is Port and Starboard onboard Ships

If you’ve seen Titanic, Greyhound or any Sea-Ship related movies, you might have come across What is this ‘Port’ and ‘Starboard’ or If you know it already then you might be wondering Why do ships use “port” and “starboard” instead of “left” and “right?”

Mariners use these Nautical terms instead of left and right to avoid confusion. When looking forward, towards the bow of a ship, port and starboard refer to the left and right sides, respectively. So you can remember it by

Starboard side meansRight
Port side meansLeft
What is Port and Starboard onboard Ships?

What is Port and Starboard
Credits: theseaholic

Well, Why Port and Starboard and Why not a simple Left or Right to avoid the confusion? We wondered and went on to find the answer for you.

Story behind Port and Starboard:

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.

For this reason, most of the seafarers were calling the right side as the ‘steering side’, which later was known as ‘starboard’.

‘starboard’ is the combination of two old words: stéor (meaning ‘steer’) and bord (meaning ‘the side of a boat’).

The left side is called ‘port’ because ships with steerboards or star boards would dock at ports on the opposite side of the steerboard or star.

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.

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