Thursday, 9 July 2009

On Reflection, Three Chicken Harbors

Cruisers constantly challenge themselves. Along the way we have discovered Three Chicken Harbors. Chicken Harbors can be found wherever cruisers question the wisdom of traveling many miles in a small boat in open ocean, resulting in a decision to turn back home.

Georgetown, Bahamas. The most well known of the three cruising milestones, also known as Chicken Harbor. The journey to Georgetown is relatively easy and provides opportunities for overnight passage making, gulf stream crossing, the exploration of another country and cruising in some truly beautiful waters. For many people this is enough. Thoughts of heading out into the Atlantic only to beat into the trade winds for a thousand miles is enough to say "enough" and they return back to the safety of the ICW and home. Whatever the reason, this is the southern boundary for the majority of cruisers.

Luperon, Dominican Republic. Having escaped the seductive clutches and safety of the cruising community of Georgetown and with the challenge of finding a good weather window for crossing behind you, you find yourself safely tucked away in the mangroves of Luperon Harbor. To get here you have had your first taste of the trade winds. The prospect of heading out into these winds and sea for 250 miles of easting, across the notorious Mona Passage is enough to start you thinking about heading west! You might decide you'd enjoy some down wind sailing in the windward passage, or you might decide to stay in Luperon for a while to think about it some more.

St. Martin. The most deceptive of the three Chicken Harbors. To get to St. Martin you will need to cross the Anegada Passage. As we found out, this passage can be tough going, bringing you back down from the euphoria of making it through the Mona, relatively unscathed. With good reason, the Anegada Passage is known as the OhMyGodda. It can easily turn into something akin to a whirl in a washing machine. On arrival in St. Martin, feeling tired, wet and exhausted after 36 hours of beating into wind and sea, cruisers may be heard to say: “That’s it, I’ve had enough”.

Engaging in any outdoors activity means exposure to the elements and when all goes well, you are at one with nature. At times, you experience some real lows when you wish you were in the safety and comfort of home, however this is balanced by the best of times; those unique and rare experiences that are not possible unless you take the leap of faith and leave the safety and comfort of home.

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