Don’t Know Your Left from Your Right? Hands Up, We Won’t Tell…

Don’t Know Your Left from Your Right? Hands Up, We Won’t Tell…

October 4, 2018 Safety sailing Sailing news Sailing skills 0

We do not wish to be judgmental, but some folks do not appear to know which is right and which is left, just take a drive in any city on the planet and you will see what we mean – left blinker on and the driver turns right, and vice versa.

As previously discussed Knowing who has Right of Way is very important for boaters in traffic entering or leaving a port or a marina, so, knowing right from left is a tad important.

Nautical parlance uses Port and Starboard in place of Left and Right, but if one does not know Left from Right that becomes problematic. Navigation lights on any ship are Red for Port and Green for Starboard. Running at sea at night time without navigation lights is extremely dangerous, be seen and be safe.

It may help to use this saying, ‘There is No Red Port Left in the bottle.’ Red is port, left is port.

The most important lights on a boat are the running lights, so much so that any boat larger than 5 metres requires them – however, if your boat is smaller it makes good sense to use them, fog and other nasty weather conditions can happen, or having had a brilliant days’ sailing the light drops fast and whoops it is dark! Be seen, be safe! Running lights include a white light at the stern – the back of the boat in addition to port and starboard as mentioned above. The coloured lights should be visible from forward of the boat and from the rear, they can be mounted in a number of ways so long as they are clearly visible, but they must be covered allowing an observer/look out to see only the relevant colour clearly. Power boats must show the three lights as above and must always show a white light at the masthead – high enough to be clearly seen from a distance to the front.

Well trained boating people will appreciate the points made herein, confusion means chaos and amateur boaters must learn the rules for safety’s sake. Professional training is recommended for all boaters.

Common sense dictates that knowing left/port from right/starboard enables better communication – with everyone including rescuers, better navigation as 10 degrees in the wrong direction could mean going aground and it makes you a more competent sailor.

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There are situations in which ensuring that the unwary boater can tell instantly which is left/port and right/starboard may require special attention, by painting a fixed item on the boat on opposing sides in the relevant colour it can act as a reminder to those who otherwise may become confused.

Sailing is an inclusive sport and we don’t want people being unable to cope because they get confused. In the 21st Century there must be innumerable ways to mark Port and Starboard for the sake of those less able, we invite members to send us their recommendations.

Please send in your suggestions and we will post them in Novembers edition of the newsletter.



Author: Roger Langley