: How do gusts factor into the safety equation?
: How's that effect the wave status? Obviously, constant winds will
: kick the waves up more, but does intermittent gusting have any
I did not go into actual wave heights in my Beaufort Scale for sea kayakers because the height of the waves is really of secondary consideration for most kayaking situations. What initially matters more with waves is whether they are breaking or not. An 8' wave out in deep water may just be an elevator ride up and down where a 2' foam pile may capsize even a seasoned paddler.
Gusts do not have a lot of effect on significant wave height. They may cause local chop to increase slightly and blow the top off some waves if the gusts are strong enough. So, the effect of gusts does not have much to do waves.
What is significant about gust is the wind strength. If the wind is a force 4 (13-18 mph) and you have gusts to 25, you now have times when you are dealing with force 6 conditions and all that that implies. Force 4 winds may be pretty comfortable for experienced novices, force 6 gusts may make progress difficult. Where T-rescues may be easy enough in force 4, they will be difficult during gusts. A 25 mph gust may be enough to capsize an unprepared novice paddler. It doesn't need to blow very long to knock you over.
Bottom line, is if the forecast says winds 13-18 mph with gusts to 25, and you don't think you would be comfortable in 25 mph winds, plan to paddle some place more sheltered.
The Connyak BBS