Probably from the Dutch lij, shelter, or the old English hléo with the same meaning, though some authorities quote the Scandinavian loe or laa, sea, as the derivation; the side of a ship, promontory, or other object away from the wind. The word can be used as both a noun and an adjective. Thus the lee side of a ship is that side which does not have the wind blowing on it. The lee of a rock or promontory, that side sheltered from the wind. Lee helm, the helm of a vessel put down towards its lee side to bring the bows up into the wind. A sailing boat is also said to have lee helm when it tends to come up into the wind even despite the efforts of the helmsman to counter this with the rudder. This is often caused by an imbalance in the sail plan.
In contradiction to the above, a lee shore is a coastline onto which the wind blows directly, i.e. it is downwind from any ship in the offing, and thus can be dangerous as the wind tends to force a sailing vessel down on it.
Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.