Have you ever heard of the Sea of the West? It’s just north of California & just south of the Northwest Passage, & it doesn’t actually exist. Neither does the Northwest Passage. So… what are they doing on this map? The foolishness began in 1534 when Verrazano, an Italian navigator, mistook part of North Carolina‘s Outer Banks for the Pacific Ocean. Yes, really. Then a book published in 1625 by Samuel Purchas made matters worse by including the “testimony” of a Greek captain called Juan De Fuca who claimed to have explored the Sea of the West during the late 1500’s. Finally, in 1708, a British magazine called Memoirs of the Curious published an account of the fantastical North Pacific voyage made 68 years prior by a Spanish admiral named Bartholemew de Fonte. There is no other record of this voyage. The intrepid explorer’s existence is not corroborated by public records. Alas, these pesky details did nothing to deter overzealous mapmakers who, for the next 50 years, published various maps showing non-existent waterways that had allegedly allowed a ship to sail clear across North America from Boston to meet our likely non-existent hero, the Admiral de Fonte, in his imaginary Sea of the West. Although the voyages of real-life explorers James Cook & George Vancouver had taken “La Mer de L’Ouest” decisively off the map by the 19th century, a 1796 General Map of North America from the best Authorities still shows the Entrance of Juan de Fuca & the River of the West. Here history proves, once again, that the popularity of an idea is no defense against it being downright foolish.