Quality controlled wind speed observations from merchant ships have been compared with ERS-1 scatterometer data. The ship and satellite wind speed pairs were well correlated at 120 km separation in the open ocean, reducing to 40 km in the North Sea. The maximum allowed separation of ship and scatterometer wind speed pairs had to be further reduced to 20 km in the North Sea to avoid matching of coastal ship wind speed data with scatterometer data from more exposed regions. Spurious biases in the comparisons were caused by the error variability of the scatterometer data (0.5 m s-1) being significantly less than that for the ships (2.0 m s-1). The unbiased regression was: U10n(ship)=1.025 U10n(satellite)+0.255 No significant enhancement of the scatterometer wind speeds occurred in the coastal region.