The eighteenth century pirate’s world was often filled with sea monsters, ghosts, and phantom Islands. Phantom Islands of the Golden Age of pirates refer to real islands that were believed to have existed and appeared on maps for some time, though centuries ago, which were proven later to be non-existent.
Atlantis is, perhaps, the most famous of the phantom islands of the Golden Age of pirates. Atlantis was claimed to be a large island (depending on who you ask, some say it was a small continent) that Plato the ancient Greek philosopher first recorded. Plato claimed that Atlantis was located outside of the Mediterranean Sea or “Past the pillars of Hercules”. Plato stated in his story that the advanced society dropped out of the good graces of the gods due to the leader’s arrogance, so the phantom Island sank beneath the ocean’s waves. Though Plato was by no means a contemporary of the Golden Age of Pirates, his ideas about Atlantis dominated thought at the time, with many sailors and navigators hoping to find the legendary island.
The Brasil or Hy-Brasil Island
The Brasil or Hy-Brasil Island that was purported to be located off the west coast of Ireland was shrouded in mist most of the time, only to be seen every seven years when the mists would disperse. Explorers noticed South America coming out from the morning mist, and it is said that explorers thought they were seeing an imaginary twin of Ireland.
The Saxenburg Island
The Saxenburg Island may have really existed. This phantom Island was first discovered in 1670. Records then suggest that it was sighted in 1804, 1809, and again in 1816, always in the same location. Maybe this island sank under the sea waters during a volcanic occurrence.
The Terra Nova Islands
There have been numerous of items that have been totally mistaken for islands such as floating seaweed masses, icebergs, and fog banks. Several phantom islands were inspired from floating icebergs from Antarctica such as the Terra Nova Islands. These islands were discovered in 1968, but since then they haven’t been seen again.
The Rupes Nigra Islands
Some of the phantom islands are purely philosophical constructions. The Rupes Nigra Islands was invented during the fourteenth century to provide an explanation on why a compass would point north. During this time nobody knew about the Earth having magnetic poles as someone had to invent a magnet, and what we call magnetic north now is an island that is located in that exact location.
The Croakerland Islands
Many of the phantom islands were just pure fabrications. You must remember that all things are quite possible when money is involved. The Croakerland Islands was a fabrication that the famous Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary created. He did this to gain more money from George Croker, one of his bankers.
The California Islands
One of the earliest map errors in history is the California Island description. For nearly two hundred years, California was shown and portrayed as an island.
The Yosemite Rock Island
Several islands and reefs still remain in existence even today. The Yosemite Rock Island was actually discovered in 1903 and the island is to be around 83°W, 32°S and located just Northwest of the Robinson Crusoe Island. This island has never been officially disproved even with all the technology we have today. The Operational Navigation Chart of the United States Department of Defense states “Existence Doubtful” for the Yosemite Rock Island