• Mark S. Cookman

Pirate Directions -- The 32 Points of Bearing


Here is a cool little bit of lore that you may be able to use to "dress up" the talk of your NPC's for nautical games. Today we will discuss how sailors and pirates told each other where things were in relation to the ship. You should know that this method is no longer used. It was replaced by the clock system (example 6:00 o'clock = Dead Astern) during World War II. This much easier to understand system has been in use since then. Before that there was a point of bearing (i.e. N, NNW, NW, WNW, etc) for each "target" on the water. The directions were as follow:

Dead Ahead -- Directly in Front of the Vessel 1 Point on the Starboard Bow 2 Points on the Starboard Bow 3 Points on the Starboard Bow Broad on the Starboard Bow 3 Points Forward of the Starboard Beam 2 Points Forward of the Starboard Beam 1 Point Forward of the Starboard Beam On the Starboard Beam -- Directly to the Right Side of the Vessel 1 Point Abaft of the Starboard Beam 2 Points Abaft of the Starboard Beam 3 Points Abaft of the Starboard Beam Broad on the Starboard Quarter 3 Points on the Starboard Quarter 2 Points on the Starboard Quarter 1 Point on the Starboard Quarter Dead Astern -- Directly Behind the Vessel 1 Point on the Port Quarter 2 Points on the Port Quarter 3 Points on the Port Quarter Broad on the Port Quarter 3 Points Abaft of the Port Beam 2 Points Abaft of the Port Beam 1 Point Abaft of the Port Beam On the Port Beam -- Directly to the Left Side of the Vessel 1 Point Forward of the Port Beam 2 Points Forward of the Port Beam 3 Points Forward of the Port Beam Broad on the Port Bow 3 Points on the Port Bow 2 Points on the Port Bow 1 Point on the Port Bow So there you go. The next time a monster, an island, or another ship pops up, you know just what the NPC lookout (or other NPC sailors) will say for where the sighted thing is located. I hope you've enjoyed this little tidbit. and I thank you for all of your support. 


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