NAUPAR explains the difference between port and starboard

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Lelystad, 28 December 2016 – A lot of people have problems distinguishing between "port" and "starboard". Yet, there is a big difference. We can hear you think: so what exactly is the difference? And when do you use which term? NAUPAR is happy to explain.

Left and right

Port is the left side of a ship. Starboard is the right side. Yes, it is that simple. So port and starboard refer to the left and right side of a ship, not to the left and right side of a person; you always look from the back forwards.

Who came up with these terms?

The terms "port" and "starboard" originate from Old Norse, the Scandinavian language from the Middle Ages, spoken by Vikings. Those Vikings were often out and about on the water and they used to steer their wooden ships using an oar that was attached to the right side. So that was starboard. The man or woman holding the oar with both hands stood with his of her back towards the left side of the boat, which was port.