Where did the terms port and starboard come from?

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Port refers to the left hand side of a vessel as you face forward and starboard refers to the right hand side. Before the rudder was invented (by the Chinese), boats and ships were steered by means of a steering board. Since most people are right handed, it was customary to mount the steering board on the right hand side of the ship. This, the right hand side became know as the "steering board" side, which was eventually shortened to "starboard" side, and this term is still in use today. To prevent damage to the steering board side, it became customary to tie up vessels with the side opposite the steering board to the pier or quay. This side was called the "loading board" side, eventually shortened to "larboard" side. But since "larboard" sounded too much like "starboard", sailors simply called it the "port" side, since it was usually the side nearest the port. more
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