A strait is a narrow passage or corridor of water connecting two larger bodies of water. Straits are often turbulent, deep, current-vexed, and dangerous. They are transition zones that test the psyche of sailors, for, entering a strait, one is often returning from the vastness of the ocean, while leaving one is saying goodbye to the firm earth and the community of the land. For the ancient Mediterranean people, the Hellespont, Bosporus, and Straits of Gibraltar signaled the end of the civilized world and were gateways to oblivion and barbarity. The periods of early and late European exploration left many straits named for mariners such as Magellan, Cook, Bering, and Juan de Fuca. Since the 1960s, the Straits of Florida have become the main crossing point for thousands of Haitians and Cubans fleeing economic and political hardships.

Michael Collier