Francis Beaufort was born in 1774 in County Meath, Ireland and began his nautical career at 13 as a cabin boy in the Navy. By the age of 22 Beaufort had risen to the position of lieutenant. Whilst on a patrol in 1812, he was injured in action. Unable to continue in active service he was given the position of Hydrographer to the Admiralty, and worked in the Navy until two years before his death in 1857, serving for 68 years.

Beaufort invented the Beaufort Scale in 1806 for his own use, and the Royal Navy adopted his method in 1838. Although over the next hundred years the Beaufort Scale was slightly modified, it is still based around Francis Beaufort’s original concept. Many maritime weather forecasts refer to Beaufort wind speeds, although land-based forecasts usually describe wind speeds in knots or miles/kilometres per hour. Neither are particularly useful unless you know what the effect is, so the Beaufort Wind Scale is a useful visual reference for wind speeds and its likely effect on the water you want to fish in.

Beaufort Force Windspeed (knots) Description Sea Condition
0 0 Calm Sea like a mirror
1 1-3 Light Air Ripples but without foam crests
2 4-6 Light Breeze Small wavelets. Crests do not break
3 7-10 Gentle Breeze Large wavelets. Perhaps scattered white horses
4 11-16 Moderate Breeze Small waves. Fairly frequent white horses.
5 17-21 Fresh Breeze Moderate waves, many white horses
6 22-27 Strong Breeze Large waves begin to form; white foam crests, probably spray
7 28-33 High Wind/ Near Gale Sea heaps up and white foam blown in streaks along the direction of the wind
8 34-40 Gale Moderately high waves, crests begin to break into spindrift
9 41-47 Severe Gale High waves. Dense foam along the direction of the wind. Crests of waves begin to roll over. Spray may affect visibility
10 48-55 Storm Very high waves with long overhanging crests. The surface of the sea takes a white appearance. The tumbling of the sea becomes heavy and shock like. Visibility affected
11 56-63 Violent Storm Exceptionally high waves. The sea is completely covered with long white patches of foam lying in the direction of the wind. Visibility affected
12 64 – whatever you won’t care Hurricane The air is filled with foam and spray. Sea completely white with driving spray. Visibility very seriously affected.