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
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 5:46
  • 2
    You're looking for a reef maybe?
    – Jeanba
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 6:10
  • ship graveyard?
    – Son Nguyen
    Commented 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
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 20:24
  • 1
    Dangerous waters? Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 5:48

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. Commented 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
    Commented 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 . . . Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 15:51

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