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What does Port and Starboard refer to, and more importantly, what was the nautical origin?

Ron and Greg, you are right.

The explanation we found:

Port and starboard are the left and right side of the ship, respectively. How did these names come about?

The starboard is actually the steering paddle or rudder, which in England was the back right of the ship, hence starboard = right. Originally, Larboard referred to the left side of the ship (the side the ship was loaded/unloaded on). These two words sounded too similar, particularly when shouted in a storm or battle, so larboard was abandoned and port began to be used, as referring to the side the port was on when loading/unloading cargo, or the left side of the ship. Use of the term "port" was officially adopted by the US Navy by General Order, February 18, 1846.

GENERAL ORDER UNITED STATES NAVY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, February 18, 1846

It having been repeatedly represented to the Department, that confusion arises from the use of the words "Larboard" and "Starboard," in consequence of the similiarity of sound, the word "Port" is hereafter to be substituted for "Larboard." GEORGE BANCROFT.

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Old sailing ships had a steerboard that was mounted on the starborad side of the boat and hung deep into the water when sailing. This board was the predecessor to the deep keel of modern sailing boats. So to protect this steerboard when docking...

Old sailing ships had a steerboard that was mounted on the starborad side of the boat and hung deep into the water when sailing. This board was the predecessor to the deep keel of modern sailing boats. So to protect this steerboard when docking it must not be pushed up against the dock so the opposite side was always put up against the dock. That is the port side of the boat is always tied to the dock (port) Steerboard became starboard and the opposite side port.

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Starboard comes from "steer-bord" or the side of the ship the tiller is attached to (which historically was the right side). When docking you want to keep the tiller clear, or have the pier on the left side. So this side came to be known as...

Starboard comes from "steer-bord" or the side of the ship the tiller is attached to (which historically was the right side). When docking you want to keep the tiller clear, or have the pier on the left side. So this side came to be known as "Port". This is what I remember. - Greg

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