Francis Beaufort's career as a sailor was a swashbuckling one, including shipwreck, pirates, being marooned - and several near-death incidents.
He was a talented seaman but from the beginning he was also fascinated with observing and recording the movements of the sea and the weather, once writing in his journal, "Everyone has his hobby or his insanity.
Mine I believe is taking bearings for charts and plans".
This interest earned him great praise even during his seafaring days as he contributed precise surveys of areas that had previously been poorly recorded.
At the age of 55 he might have been expected to retire for a life of well-deserved leisure, but instead he took his love for scientific records and charts and put them to use at the Hydrographic Board.
His aim was to assist the Navy by improving the existing charts of all the world's oceans and to encourage all ships to play their part in adding to the available knowledge of the sea and its movements.
He was highly effective in this, and countless sailors will have owed their life to Beaufort's work at this time.
But the legacy for which he remains best known, is Beaufort Wind Scale, a standardised register by which one sailor can understand exactly the weather conditions another sailor - or weather forecaster - is referring to without ambiguity.
In the 19th century, when ships were powered only by the wind, this information was crucial, and remain little changed to this day.
Listen to the Radio 4 shipping news and you can hear it in action every night.