These threads can stay dormant for a while. Just thought I'd add something that I read this morning in a book called "The Proving Ground" by G. Bruce Knecht. It is an account of the ill-fated "Hobart" ocean sailing race of 1998 when the weather really got out of hand and even these incredibly experienced sailors didn't understand the relationship between wind speed and the force of the wind. The senior meteorologist was quoted in the book as saying, "The power of the wind increases disproportionately to its speed. In mathematical terms, the force of the wind equals the square of its speed. Therefore an increase from 50 to 60, a 20% increase in speed, amounts to an increase in power of 40%."
I like the idea (for those of you that are so inclined to carry the anemometer and go out on the briny wave) to use it regularly to train your senses. I regularly used topos when taking out canoe trips and training people in navigation to identify and train the eye to size on the ground. If I was near a tiny island at the beginning of a trip, I would take out my map and look at how big it is on the map and on the ground and basically wait until someone asked me what I was doing because we know where we are, because the cars are still in site. I would tell them that I was "scaling my eyes." I know 100% that is that island on the map, so now I can train my brain to recognize that that size on the map is that big in the world. The same idea for wind... check and feel... train the senses.
The one thing I would add as a side bar is how long the effects of the wind hang on after it has petered out and where you are in relation to the shoreline shape and the depth and shoaling profile on the coast. I was out in the fall of 2007 checking the marine weather ever half hour all day and we were planning to camp on the Western Islands in Georgian Bay (Lake Huron, Ontario) about 14km off shore. All was duckie until 4:30 pm when the report told us all bets were off and there would now be a storm in the middle of the night with gusts up to 80 kph but it would moderate by early morning. The decision to stay on the island instead of making it a plus 40 km day was made. We figured that we could wait until 2pm the next day to let the waves calm down and we did. I was still windy and waves of 4' to 5' feet but in the Feathercraft K2, we felt secure. It didn't turn out that way. The approaching shore to the east comes up steeply and I am sure the curve of the shoreline funnels the wind too higher speeds. Suffice it to say that we ended up with a 3 hour paddle from hell. We were in up to 10 foot waves, and we had to change track a number of times as we saw that we were approaching areas of breakers where there were shoals a couple of miles off shore. A couple of surprise surfs scared the crap out of me (though my paddle buddy in the stern position was not as freaked because of his perspective.
This long winded tale is just to add that the wind speed is just one factor to be taken in context with topography, fetch, shoaling/depth, wind shadowing of islands points and type of craft. I don't have to worry about tide here, but lots of you folks do, so add that on.
Paddle safe and enjoy... I learned a lesson that day.