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Sailing Terms

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Sailing Terms
Post by Briz   » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:13 am

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now I'm a landsman but I was wondering what's the deal with the sailor's language? I know some of the words we use today but have not found a close term for larboard. I know this might be a minor detail that I'm hung up on but I still what to know which direction the larboard is. Although I have an inkling but would like to know if I'm on the right tack. So thanks in advance for any and all help, by the way I'm listening to them, second time, so no index in the back for me to check.
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by WeberFan   » Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:17 pm

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Briz wrote:now I'm a landsman but I was wondering what's the deal with the sailor's language? I know some of the words we use today but have not found a close term for larboard. I know this might be a minor detail that I'm hung up on but I still what to know which direction the larboard is. Although I have an inkling but would like to know if I'm on the right tack. So thanks in advance for any and all help, by the way I'm listening to them, second time, so no index in the back for me to check.

Larboard is the older term for "Port."

A vessel on a "larboard tack" has the wind coming from the left (port/larboard) side. Conversely, a vessel on a "starboard tack" has the wind coming from the right (starboard) side.
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by Louis R   » Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:16 pm

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Starboard is easy - it's just what it looks like, the ster-borde or steering side [the a is a result of the great vowel shift of the 16-17th centuries]

Larbord, according to the OED, is a headscratcher: it appears out of nowhere in middle English as ladeborde to replace the Old English baecborde - the side the steersman's back is facing. A connection to some Norman knight shouting the ancestral form of "vers l'autre bord!" would seem obvious, so it must be wrong [if I can see it, I'd be surprised the Clerks of Oxenford didn't], although it's the sort of thing that could easily go completely unrecorded. One of the Celtic languages, maybe?


WeberFan wrote:
Briz wrote:now I'm a landsman but I was wondering what's the deal with the sailor's language? I know some of the words we use today but have not found a close term for larboard. I know this might be a minor detail that I'm hung up on but I still what to know which direction the larboard is. Although I have an inkling but would like to know if I'm on the right tack. So thanks in advance for any and all help, by the way I'm listening to them, second time, so no index in the back for me to check.

Larboard is the older term for "Port."

A vessel on a "larboard tack" has the wind coming from the left (port/larboard) side. Conversely, a vessel on a "starboard tack" has the wind coming from the right (starboard) side.
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by Joat42   » Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:10 am

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Louis R wrote:Starboard is easy - it's just what it looks like, the ster-borde or steering side [the a is a result of the great vowel shift of the 16-17th centuries]

Larbord, according to the OED, is a headscratcher: it appears out of nowhere in middle English as ladeborde to replace the Old English baecborde - the side the steersman's back is facing. A connection to some Norman knight shouting the ancestral form of "vers l'autre bord!" would seem obvious, so it must be wrong [if I can see it, I'd be surprised the Clerks of Oxenford didn't], although it's the sort of thing that could easily go completely unrecorded. One of the Celtic languages, maybe?

Larboard comes from middle English, it refers to the side you load cargo on - ie laddebord with wovel-shift, and ladde means load in some Scandinavian dialects (and still do).

---
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by Louis R   » Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:17 pm

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One difficulty with that is that the word doesn't appear in that connection _until_ Middle English. IOW there's no evidence of it evolving in Old English. Which is sufficiently well-recorded in this connection that we do know what they used:

and that leads to another difficulty - apparently the rest of the Germanic sailing world stayed with cognates of the OE baecbord. In fact, it even strayed across the border into the Romance languages: French, for example, uses babord. Why did English veer off that course, while leaving no trace of its passage, when people with a lot more reason to adopt your suggested usage didn't?

Finally, while the OED claims no knowledge of the origin of ladde-, the compilers of the Middle English Dictionary link it to 'leden', "to lead". Quite different from "to load".

Interestingly, if the connection with loading the ship is correct, the word isn't recorded until just about the time that steering oars went out of use, replaced by rudders - eliminating any concern about which side was tied up to the quay. While I'd have to do some research to check this, I'm pretty sure that it was, in fact, the wide-spread use of rudders, and the resulting concern with damage when beaching, that actually made quays, wharfs, piers, jetties and what have you a normal component of portside scenery. Prior to that, the common practice even in very busy ports in England was to run up on the beach at high tide, unload and load when the water dropped, then pull off and sail on a later high tide. With no concern at all for which side you load from, since it didn't matter anyway. You'll find all sorts of structures in the river ports of the continent where they had deep water above the tidal reach, but even today few if any of England's rivers are navigable to anything larger than a canal boat once you get past tidal waters. Makes finding archeological evidence of even known major ports very challenging indeed.

Joat42 wrote:Larboard comes from middle English, it refers to the side you load cargo on - ie laddebord with wovel-shift, and ladde means load in some Scandinavian dialects (and still do).
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by isaac_newton   » Wed Apr 29, 2020 3:24 am

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Louis R wrote:One difficulty with that is that the word doesn't appear in that connection _until_ Middle English. IOW there's no evidence of it evolving in Old English. Which is sufficiently well-recorded in this connection that we do know what they used:

and that leads to another difficulty - apparently the rest of the Germanic sailing world stayed with cognates of the OE baecbord. In fact, it even strayed across the border into the Romance languages: French, for example, uses babord. Why did English veer off that course, while leaving no trace of its passage, when people with a lot more reason to adopt your suggested usage didn't?

Finally, while the OED claims no knowledge of the origin of ladde-, the compilers of the Middle English Dictionary link it to 'leden', "to lead". Quite different from "to load".

Interestingly, if the connection with loading the ship is correct, the word isn't recorded until just about the time that steering oars went out of use, replaced by rudders - eliminating any concern about which side was tied up to the quay. While I'd have to do some research to check this, I'm pretty sure that it was, in fact, the wide-spread use of rudders, and the resulting concern with damage when beaching, that actually made quays, wharfs, piers, jetties and what have you a normal component of portside scenery. Prior to that, the common practice even in very busy ports in England was to run up on the beach at high tide, unload and load when the water dropped, then pull off and sail on a later high tide. With no concern at all for which side you load from, since it didn't matter anyway. You'll find all sorts of structures in the river ports of the continent where they had deep water above the tidal reach, but even today few if any of England's rivers are navigable to anything larger than a canal boat once you get past tidal waters. Makes finding archeological evidence of even known major ports very challenging indeed.

Joat42 wrote:Larboard comes from middle English, it refers to the side you load cargo on - ie laddebord with wovel-shift, and ladde means load in some Scandinavian dialects (and still do).


BTW just out of interest - was the steering oar always on one specific side... if yes, any particular reason.
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by Joat42   » Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:18 am

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isaac_newton wrote:BTW just out of interest - was the steering oar always on one specific side... if yes, any particular reason.

Most people are right-handed which makes it easier (better leverage) to steer from the starboard (right) side of a ship.

Other reasons why this became the standard is that ships can pass each other (ie keep to the right) without risk of tangling/damaging the steering oars when passing each other plus you could standardize harbors and loading to some extent.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by isaac_newton   » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:20 am

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Joat42 wrote:
isaac_newton wrote:BTW just out of interest - was the steering oar always on one specific side... if yes, any particular reason.

Most people are right-handed which makes it easier (better leverage) to steer from the starboard (right) side of a ship.

Other reasons why this became the standard is that ships can pass each other (ie keep to the right) without risk of tangling/damaging the steering oars when passing each other plus you could standardize harbors and loading to some extent.



makes sense - thanks :-)
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by isaac_newton   » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:21 am

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Briz wrote:now I'm a landsman but I was wondering what's the deal with the sailor's language? I know some of the words we use today but have not found a close term for larboard. I know this might be a minor detail that I'm hung up on but I still what to know which direction the larboard is. Although I have an inkling but would like to know if I'm on the right tack. So thanks in advance for any and all help, by the way I'm listening to them, second time, so no index in the back for me to check.



GROSS FAIL GUYS - where are our manners???

your first post Briz - welcome to the forums, and bearing an interestin question!!
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Re: Sailing Terms
Post by jgnfld   » Sun May 10, 2020 10:24 am

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Joat42 wrote:
isaac_newton wrote:BTW just out of interest - was the steering oar always on one specific side... if yes, any particular reason.

Most people are right-handed which makes it easier (better leverage) to steer from the starboard (right) side of a ship.

Other reasons why this became the standard is that ships can pass each other (ie keep to the right) without risk of tangling/damaging the steering oars when passing each other plus you could standardize harbors and loading to some extent.


With a steering oar or any tiller arrangement, you get better visibility on the high side. This means on the starboard tack you sit on the starboard side of the tiller wheels as well) and on the port tack you sit on the port side.

All this is also the reason for various anti-collision rules. On the starboard tack the boat heels to port (larboard) and the sail streams out the same direction. Therefore the steersman has good visibility to starboard regardless of handedness, but has limited visibility to port due to the sail being in the FOV and heeling close to the water to boot. Therefore, it makes sense to give the right-of-way to the boat on the starboard tack making any boat approaching from the port or port bow side the boat which must maneuver to avoid (which means they are on the port tack). Note that you cannot easily see them but they can easily see you. Other situations basically follow from the application of visibility and who has the most maneuverability (e.g., the boat to leeward has priority over the boat to windward). If they are approaching from the port stern angle, they are overtaking and are therefore the boat which must maneuver to avoid.

Powerboats have adopted mostly the same rules for consistency though of course the visibility issues are different.
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