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coondogger 02-17-2004 07:09 AM

arcane nautical terms
I''ve often run across this expression, particularly in literature. What the heck is larboard? And while I''m on the subject, what is it you''re doing when you ''baff''n the mizzenmast''?

Jeff_H 02-17-2004 08:19 AM

arcane nautical terms
The first term ''Larboard'' is the opposite side of the vessel from Starboard i.e. ''port'' which is the left side looking forward.

The second term is ''abaft'' which means ''aft of'' so the expression means the same as being aft of (or behind) the Mizzen mast.

aflanigan 02-19-2004 12:31 PM

arcane nautical terms
What''s interesting is that my computer dictionary totally misses the boat, so to speak, on "larboard"''s derivation. It gives the origin as "laddebord" (middle English), but wrongly speculates that "ladde" came from "leden", "to lead",akin to the "steer" at the root of "starboard". It seems obvious to me looking at the word "laden" in the same dictionary that "laddebord" comes from combining "lade" with "bord", the side of the ship on which it is loaded. The Navy seems to concur:
. Larboard referred to the left side, the side on which the ship was loaded. So how did larboard become port? Shouted over the noise of the wind and the waves, larboard and starboard sounded too much alike. The word port means the opening in the "left" side of the ship from which cargo was unloaded. Sailors eventually started using the term to refer to that side of the ship. Use of the term "port" was officially adopted by the U.S. Navy by General Order, 18 February 1846.

The only thing I can''t figure out is, why was the steering oar always on the right side of the boat? Superstition?

Allen Flanigan
Alexandria, VA

coondogger 02-20-2004 03:13 AM

arcane nautical terms
What about ''full and by"? What''s the meaning and origin of that?

Jeff_H 02-20-2004 08:23 AM

arcane nautical terms
That is far enough off of the wind that the sails are full.


geohan 02-20-2004 09:17 AM

arcane nautical terms
"Full and by" is the order to the helm to steer as close to the wind as possible while keeping the sails full as opposed to steering a compass heading. The set of the sails and wind direction determine the course to be sailed.

elhanley 02-23-2004 12:13 PM

arcane nautical terms
Back to why the steering oar is mounted on the starboard side: to accommodate right-handed helmsmen, like me. I sail a 30 footer w/ tiller. On stbd tack, my right hand, further from the rudder post (fulcrum), does all the work, with my left loafing; on port, they feel very balanced, with the strong arm carrying slightly more than the weaker. Of course, the Autohelm pretty much moots the whole thing.

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