"Starboard versus Port"

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Immediately after the Iceberg is spotted, the officer on watch tells the helmsman to steer the ship "hard to starboard." The helmsman then proceeds to turn the wheel to the left. Since "starboard" is right, why does he turn the wheel left. Likewise, a few moment slater when they try to steer around the berg, the officer orders the helmsman to turn hard to port. The helmsman then proceeds to turn the wheel to the right. Since "port" is left I grew increasingly confused. Perhaps there is something about the way big ships steer that I don't know about because it seems like such an obvious for someone as careful and meticulaous as James Cameron to make. Can anyone help me understand what appears to be an apparent flaw? Thanks!

-- Lindsay Bourne (lbourne@uniserve.com), May 19, 1998


We've been through this a few times before here; check previous postings for a through explanation.

Briefly: prior to the 1920s, ships wheels worked like the rudder on a motor boat today. To turn the vessel starboard (right), you have to shove the tiller (or turn the wheel) to port (left). This turns the rudder the correct way and the vessel turns the way you want. Ships' wheels were not redone to match automobile style until sometime after WWI.

Cameron was right.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), May 20, 1998.

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