What do you call an area of the sea that sinks many ships? I am pretty sure there was a word for it. When there are treacherous rocks that sink wooden ships, there was a word pirates used to refer to it, but I don't recall what it was.

  • Something like "the Bermuda triangle"? (....) No, that is the name given to a specific location where several aeroplanes were "lost" and never found again.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2020 at 5:46
  • 2
    You're looking for a reef maybe?
    – Jeanba
    Jun 27, 2020 at 6:10
  • ship graveyard?
    – Son Nguyen
    Jun 27, 2020 at 7:30
  • 1
    The sea doesn't "sink ships". Ships sink for many reasons and that can include hitting rocks. You mean: an area of the ocean where many ships have sunk.
    – Lambie
    Apr 9, 2021 at 20:24
  • I watched a debate about the Bermuda Triangle. Turns out that the Great Lakes (between Canada and the US, including five very large freshwater lakes) sees more ships sunk per year on average, both in tonnage and in number of ships. It's a question of frequent traffic and difficult weather.
    – Dan
    Jan 16, 2022 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


There are several possibilities:

  • dire straits: generally dangerous waters or more specifically a narrow passageway connecting two large bodies of water that is dangerous for ships
  • Charybdis and Scylla: based on Odysseus' Greek mythology a whirlpool and many necked monster which made sailing very dangerous, however it has been used more generally as a dangerous place to sail
  • lee shore (leeward shore): a stretch of shore that is down wind of a ship so the ship is being blown towards it. It is considered dangerous because shallow waters and potential rocks and make maneuvering a ship dangerous.
  • Doesn't "lee" mean protected from wind? If a shore is downwind of a ship (meaning that the wind blows toward it), then I'd think it would be on the "weather" (not "lee") side. Feb 5, 2023 at 20:13
  • @MarcInManhattan, if you are in the lee of something, it protects you from the wind. A lee shore is in the lee of the ship.
    – Peter
    Jun 6, 2023 at 13:39
  • @Peter I think that the wording confused me because I'd think that a "lee shore" was on the leeward side of land (e.g., an island), not the leeward side of some random ship that might be passing nearby. But I guess that terminology isn't always intuitive . . . Jun 6, 2023 at 15:51

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