Dumb question-ever get R and L mixed up?

I was going down the river yesterday and then I was trying to describe the day’s events to my spouse. I realized that I was saying “right” when I meant “river left”. It was so very frustrating at first because he didn’t understand how the rock I was describing could have moved to the other side of the river and i was getting annoyed that he kept saying “you mean the rocks by the bridge?” and it was the rocks in question- I just kept thinking they were on the right of the river insead of “river left”. Ugh!

Anyway, just wondering if anyone else has ever made that mistake?

maybe just say “port” & "starboard"

oh yeah
Used to run my Dumoine tandem with my son on our after work cl.2+ run on wednesdays with kayaking friends. I’d be calling “right” or “left”, and Aaron would be paddling the wrong way…I thought. I for the life of me can’t get right or left straight on the river, even after marking it on the thwarts and hull of that particular canoe. We changed to having Aaron call directions, not much help, then decided he should “throw an elbow” which while better, is no substitute for us now soloing WW exclusively. On the other hand, Aaron just approached me about converting one of our large OC-1’s into a tandem. We’ll see what happens this time…

relative to reference
The port side and starboard of a boat are constant. Howver depending on the boat’s orientation, an object in the river could be on either the port or starboard. When speaking of the river and objects in the river ‘river right’ or ‘river left’ remain constant no matter which way your boat is facing.

I do have to do a mental check when I’m looking up river to remember that ‘river right’ is on my left etc…

With on paddling partner…
I’ve learned to ask “do you mean right-right? or right-left?”

The second answer is always the correct answer. Sometimes it is the same, sometimes it is different. All of the time - it’s plain good fun.

other right
No need to get upset, just watch them after you give the instruction and if they seem to be doing it wrong, quickly call out “other right! I meant the other right!”

We do this all the time in the groups I travel with.

At least six times a day.

Right and left
There is no perfect answer to this.

Ideally we would refer to everything as being on river right or river left. No one would ever be confused and none of us would ever call out a location in error. Such is not the real world and I’m as guilty as any of creating confusion.

I sometimes refer to something descriptive, such as just off the point or next to the bridge abutment but often there is no clear reference point. In a perfect world, we would all stick to river left/right and none would be confused BUT then I’d have to come up with a new excuse when I hit a rock.

Marc Ornstein

Yup and that is why
That is why I don’t tandem much.

I know which way I want to go. I just can’t communicate it.


Been there, done that
Running OC2 with my wife on class II-III whitewater, I got a little excited one time, and started yelling Right! Right! (when I really wanted to go left). I finally yelled “the other right!” After about 30 years, I still get reminders.

Keep on paddling.


It has been proven
That five out of three people are dyslexic ;o)>

When my daughter and I were canoeing the Current many years ago I’d hear left-left, no right,UH-OH.

Usually followed by a thump or a scrape.



I’ve got…
“right/left dyslexia”. For the life of me I can’t automatically know my left from my right. I have to stop and think about which side my shirt pocket is on before saying “right” or “left”, whether it’s on a river or anywhere else. That makes tandem canoeing in whitewater a real problem for me.

I gave up
I find it much easier to simply call out “your” right or “your” left when giving directions to my bow paddler. Even more fun happens on the drive home when my bow paddler/front seat passenger/wife begins warnings about my driving. I give out an urgent “switch” command, and after I get “the look” I usually get a little grin that says OK I’ll be quiet.


It’s a girl thing
My wife does it all the time when I’m driving in the UK turn left no right no left … oh you missed it.

I was a band kid
so I had to learn that stuff years ago. It may have taken 6 years, but I figured it out.

Used “other right” this evening on the way home (wife driving). Seems to work.


R and L mixed up?
I moved into a new office at work today. I keep wanting to turn right out of the door to get to the elevator which is to the left. Mens room is also to the left. Nothing to the right except a well worn breakroom and the back stairs.

All the time while racing
I want to pass that tree on the right.

The trees right or the boats right?


My Uncle cured me of that around 30 years ago…

One way…
I agree with Marc, there is no perfect answer to this. In tandem canoes we use the term “onside” and “offside” because the terms right and left get confused rather quickly. That avoids the confusion discussed here. I don’t paddle tandem very often but developed the habit of using these terms. Remember the “onside” is the side on which the bow paddler is paddling and the “Offside” is the other side. Stick to this and the rocks will be either on the “onside” or “offside”.

Oh sure.
Between port and starboard relating to the boat, river right and river left relating to the current, and then right and left relating to the paddler, it gets all confusing. Plus, it’s just a thing I do anyway. I am constantly confusing right and left and east and west (which means I am extremely cautious when giving directions) and have all my life. I wear a watch primarily to remind me which hand is the left one. Sad but true. Some kind of wierd mental block.

Then throw in that I assist with stage productions from time to time and have to remember stage right and stage left. Yuck.

  • Big D