When seafarers described them in tones of awe, sceptical landlubbers dismissed them as fantasy. Now scientists believe that they have evidence of the largest wave yet recorded.
It happened on September 16 last year when Hurricane Ivan stormed across the Gulf of Mexico and tore into the coast of Alabama, accompanied by 130mph winds and storm surges 8ft high.
While still out at sea, oceanographers report, the hurricane also produced a series of giant waves, one of which stood 91ft (27m) from crest to trough, the height of a ten-storey building and a new world record for a wave recorded by instruments.
But science, like old salts