Port side & Starboard side

Starboard side

Starboard is the right side of a boat when looking forward (when facing the bow).


Port is the left side of a boat looking forward (when facing the bow).


Where did term starboard come from?


The term "starboard" originates from the Old English word "steorbord," which refers to the side of the ship where it is steered. In the past, ships were guided using a steering oar at the stern, positioned on the right-hand side of the ship. This arrangement was favored because the majority of people are right-handed. Before the introduction of central rudders, this method allowed for efficient navigation.

Why do vessels use port and starboard and not left or right?


Ever wondered why sailors use the timeless terms "port" and "starboard" instead of "left" and "right" on ships? These nautical references stand firm, offering unequivocal guidance that stays unwavering regardless of the navigator's position. By relying on port and starboard, sailors avoid confusion.

What color is the port side light of a boat?

The red light indicates a vessel's port (left) side

What color is the starboard side light of a boat?

The green light indicates a vessel's starboard (right) side.


Port & starboard side lights of a boat

Starboard buoy = RED  



starboard hand buoy

What color is a port buoy or marker?

Port buoy = GREEN




port hand buoy

Sound signaling to starboard



Sound signaling to starboard

2 short sounds = I am coming to port, I am going left.

When I pass near another boat, I will maneuver by leaving the other boat on my right side as I pass.

Now that you have an idea of the difference between port side and starboard side, come discover with us, all the other aspects of boating with our online boating safety course and obtain your Canadian boating license.



Sound signaling to port