Marco Polo reference

The Straits of Anian

In the seventeenth century, the term 'Straits of Anian' identified a mythical body of ocean at the Arctic North Pole between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, where a new trading route to the Orient was widely thought to exist. Marco Polo originally named and described this region, giving its location at the Gulf of Kienan, in the borderland between east and west. Polo said, “This gulf is so extensive that it appears like another world.” 

The idea of a dividing strait in the northern pacific persisted for 200 years and can be traced on a 1542 map and this idea sparked the interest of an experienced and ambitious sailor from Hull, who had grown up in the company of many earlier Arctic explorers.  Luke Fox sought permission from the monarch to captain the King's own ship in a fresh search for the NW Passage and by doing so he alerted a formidable rival in the aristocratic Thomas James, previously a Lord Mayor of Bristol. 

Poor weather and Tom's considerable influence delayed Luke's expedition, enabling the acquisition of a similar vessel and eventually two tall ships left Great Britain for the Arctic in 1631.  Their genuine records of adventure and adversity were later published in journals  included here, by order of King Charles 1st.