The Sea, the Sea, the Sea

0. Like a mirror.

1. Scaly ripples with no foam.

2. Small wavelets.

3. Large wavelets. Crests begin to break about. Scattered white horses

4. Small waves. Many white horses.

5. Moderate waves. Many more white horses. Some spray.

6. Larger waves begin to form white foam crests with more spray.

7. Sea heaps up. White foam streaks off breakers.

8. Moderate high waves of greater length. Crests break into frothy spindrift. Foam blown in streaks.

9. High waves. Crests begin to topple and roll over. Dense streaks of foam. Much spray.

10. Very high waves. Long overhanging crests. Tumbling of sea becomes heavy and shocking. Heavy rolling.

11. Exceptionally high waves. Sea covered with long patches of foam.

12. Air filled with foam. Tremendous waves. Driving spray. Sea completely white.

Sailors have used the scale for their protection and safety for years, but everyone can enjoy and be grateful for the force and beauty of this language of the sea.

The litany of the sea areas in the shipping forecast is another example of useful, functional language taking on a unique charm. The haunting words ‘Viking, Forties, Humber, Dogger, and Wight’ can still be heard on the radio each day.