Why port tack gives way to starboard tack - SailNet Community

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Old 11-09-2013
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Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

What is the reason behind the rule :Port tack gives way to starboard tack
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Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

It had to be one way or another...just like when two cars arrive at a stop sign at the same time if this is a normal stop sign or a four way stop the car to the right is to have the right of way.

Without rules you'd have anarchy, lol....
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

Yeah.

Otherwise every time you found yourself on a collision course, you'd have to do rock, scissors stone to see who is the stand on vessel.
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Old 11-09-2013
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

wikipedia

Starboard (right)[edit]



The origin of the term starboard comes from early boating practices. Before ships had rudders on their centrelines, they were steered by use of a specialized steering oar. This oar was held by an oarsman located in the stern (back) of the ship. However, similar to now, there were many more right-handed sailors than left-handed sailors. This meant that the steering oar (which had been broadened to provide better control) used to be affixed to the right side of the ship. The word starboard comes from Old English steorbord, literally meaning the side on which the ship is steered, descendant from the Old Norse words stýri meaning "rudder" (from the verb stýra, literally "being at the helm", "having a hand in") and borđ meaning etymologically "board", then the "side of a ship".


They go on to say that the starboard side was the favored side where the captain stood.
So it makes sense that the starboard side would be favored in the regulations.

In any event it is a very, very old rule pre-dating the United States so just get used to it.
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Last edited by davidpm; 11-09-2013 at 05:56 PM.
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

David's response makes me think that Starboard has right of way because a boat on starboard tack would tend to have it's "steering board" or rudder somewhat out of the water, and therefore have less control over it's action than a boat on port tack. A boat on Port would tend to have it's "steering board" fully in the water and therefore have the boat under better control. It could also be because two Dutch captains in the Hanseatic League had a guilder toss in 1252. It came up tails, so Starboard won priority. Or maybe the Pope decided it in 1413, as a result of Portuguese and Spanish petitions. The Portuguese wanted Port to be prioritized, since they sailed mostly on Port going around Africa and didn't want to have to change course any more than necessary. The Spanish wanted Starboard to prevail, since they wanted to cut into the Portuguese routes and mess them up if they could. Not sure which is correct reason for Starboard prevailing, but any could be right.
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

If two boats are beating and converging on opposite tacks, the stbd boat is approaching from the right.. Same as two powerboats meeting, the boat approaching from the right would be the stand on vessel.. I think this rule is basically an extension of that.
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

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Originally Posted by Faster View Post
If two boats are beating and converging on opposite tacks, the stbd boat is approaching from the right.. Same as two powerboats meeting, the boat approaching from the right would be the stand on vessel.. I think this rule is basically an extension of that.
It wouldn't surprise me if the rule predates internal combustion engines.
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

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It wouldn't surprise me if the rule predates internal combustion engines.
Could be... Maybe it's vice-versa
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
wikipedia

Starboard (right)[edit]



The origin of the term starboard comes from early boating practices. Before ships had rudders on their centrelines, they were steered by use of a specialized steering oar. This oar was held by an oarsman located in the stern (back) of the ship. However, similar to now, there were many more right-handed sailors than left-handed sailors. This meant that the steering oar (which had been broadened to provide better control) used to be affixed to the right side of the ship. The word starboard comes from Old English steorbord, literally meaning the side on which the ship is steered, descendant from the Old Norse words stýri meaning "rudder" (from the verb stýra, literally "being at the helm", "having a hand in") and borđ meaning etymologically "board", then the "side of a ship".


They go on to say that the starboard side was the favored side where the captain stood.
So it makes sense that the starboard side would be favored in the regulations.

In any event it is a very, very old rule pre-dating the United States so just get used to it.
David--

The foregoing is a good discussion of the Etymology of the term "Starboard" but it doesn't get you to the finish line. In fact, with a helmsman positioned on the "starboard" or right aft quarter of a ship, when on port tack, he/she was better positioned to see where he/she was going and possible obstructions ahead than a helmsman similarly positioned but on a starboard tack. (How many times have you heard a tiller-man on starboard ask someone to look-see "what's under my jib"?) Hence, when converging on opposite tacks, the helmsman on port could more easily decern what avoiding action was necessary. Taking that action amounted to "yielding" to the starboard tacker who, by such action, was "favored". Hence, Starboard is known as the "favored tack".
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Re: Why port tack gives way to starboard tack

This whole port/starboard thing is just too confusing so I just sail on a starboard tack the whole time
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