Although a rich literature exists on public concern for the effect of land-sited wind power structures on cultural landscapes and the benefits of community involvement in this issue, less is known about how society perceives sea-based structures. Offshore wind power has existed for some time in Europe; in the USA, its development has been hampered by opponents of the Cape Wind project off of Massachusetts. At present, the developer of the proposed Cape Wind project and a second developer proposing a project off of Delaware each strive to erect the first offshore wind power project in the Americas. Here, we examine public opinion. We first provide background on the case studies, then a review of prior studies of support and opposition of wind power projects in order to place the mail surveys within the context of the wider literature. After detailing the methods employed, we analyse the results and provide insights into the similarities and dis-similarities that are revealed in the data, with the intent of gaining a broader understanding of how individuals think about offshore wind power. The strikingly higher public support for offshore wind development in the mid-Atlantic, and especially off Delaware, suggests the possibility of substantially higher US public acceptance of offshore wind power than previously anticipated. Moreover, when offshore wind power is seen as transformative, we find substantial support even for residents near the first developments—residents who thus inherently take more risk. Potentially increasing acceptance of wind power, we argue, portends the shape of things to come. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.