Since I first posted this, I've continued to monitor wind speeds with my anemometer on kayaking trips, and to check out what others say the wind speed was on their outings. My last trip in "strong" winds was in a protected bay, in a measured 16-20 knots of air, paddling both into it and then taking the wind and waves on the beam. it was rough paddling, with us taking 2 hours to cover 4 sea miles, a figure that corresponds well with David Burch's estimated speed chart in his Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation. I also remember well a trip when a nor'easter rapidly overtook us on another protected bay. With the kayak bow thrust into a Phragmites-covered shoreline, the wind was blowing at 25 mph (statute), and, as we took refuge in a fishing/hunting shack on an island, the shack's anemometer atop a pole registered gusts of 45 mph. I know that while we were on the water, the wind threatened us constantly with capsize just from its force alone.
While browsing through the June 2006 SK, I came across Chris Cunningham's "foredeck" account of his day riding the storm waves on Puget Sound, in winds that "seemed to be every bit of 40 miles per hour." I know Chris to be an accomplished paddler, but, without an actual anemometer reading, how hard does he know the wind was blowing, really? I've become increasingly sceptical about ALL paddler-reported wind speeds and wave heights (including my own past reports) that are not registered by anemometer readings or by other objective measure. As I indicated before, the tendency to tell a good story may lead others into believing that they too can safely go out and paddle in "40 mph" winds (Beaufort Force 8!).