Then, as the Maiken turned west, Fransson and Håkan received an even bigger surprise. Suddenly, it seemed as if the Pacific Ocean had disappeared, replaced by inexplicable swathes of stone. “We looked out, and in front of us it was as if there was no more sea,” Fransson explained in a 2007 interview with Discover magazine.
“It was like the Sahara, with rolling hills of sand as far as the eye could see,” he continued. In fact, the Maiken had sailed headlong into a vast belt of pumice stones. According to Håkan, the phenomenon was many miles wide, causing the sailors to reduce their speed to just one knot.