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  • Just as the whale was curving himself to sound, we got fairly close, and the harpooner made a "pitch-pole" dart; that is, he hurled his weapon into the air, where it described a fine curve, and fell point downward on the animal's back just as he was disappearing.

    The Cruise of the Cachalot Round the World After Sperm Whales


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  • "The Navy subjected model destroyers and aircraft carriers to various kinds of waves and found that a single nonbreaking wave—no matter how big it was—was incapable of sinking a ship. A single breaking wave, though, would flip a ship end over end if it was higher than the ship was long. Typically, the ship would climb the wave at an angle of forty-five degrees, fail to gain the top, and then slide back down the face. Her stern would bury itself in the trough, and the crest of the wave would catch her bow and flip her over. This is called pitch-poling; Ernie Hazard was pitch-poled on Georges Bank. It's one of the few motions that can end ship-to-shore communications instantly."

    —Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm, 1997 (NY: HarperCollins, 1999), 136–137

    August 26, 2009