Michael Clements Windward: The Life of an Adventurous Sailor

Michael Clements Windward? While he may not be a household name, Windward led a fascinating life of adventure and intrigue on the high seas. Born to a low-income family in England in the late 1700s, Windward went to work on merchant ships. You’ve probably heard of legendary sailors like Christopher Columbus or Captain Cook, but have you heard of Cabin Boy at just nine years old? He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a captain by his early twenties. 

Windward sailed worldwide, surviving storms, pirate attacks, and mutinies. He made and lost several fortunes trading cargo like spices and fabrics. Windward did it all – from hunting whales in the Arctic to leading rescue missions in the tropics. His life story is the stuff of legends, even if most people today don’t know his name. But after reading this article, you’ll see why Michael Clements Windward deserves to be remembered as one of history’s greatest maritime adventurers.

Early Life and Inspiration: How Michael Clements Discovered His Passion for Sailing

As a kid growing up in coastal Massachusetts, you were surrounded by the ocean. Some of your earliest and fondest memories were of family vacations spent sailing and exploring the waters of Cape Cod. You were enthralled by the freedom of the open sea and dreamed of one day captaining your ship to distant shores.

Developing a Love of Adventure

In your teens, you spent summers crewing on charter boats, learning the ropes of sailing from experienced captains. You devoured books on famous explorers and stories of epic sea voyages. An adventurous spirit was awakened in you, and you knew this was only the beginning of a lifelong passion for adventure under sail.

The Call of the Open Ocean

After high school, the desire to embark on your odyssey across the waves grew more robust. You purchased your first sailboat, a sturdy 30-foot sloop you named Windward, and spent a year meticulously preparing her for an extended cruise. At 19, with a heart full of dreams and a mind thirsty for discovery, you set sail from familiar harbors towards uncharted horizons. The open ocean called your name, and you were ready to answer.

Over 45 years later, you’ve logged more than 100,000 miles at sea, circumnavigating the globe not once but twice. Yet that same sense of wonder and possibility that first stirred your soul as a boy remains. The lure of untamed waters and undiscovered lands continues to pull at the adventurer in you, always beckoning you back to the sea once more. For you, the true joy of sailing lies not in the destination but in the voyage itself.

Learning the Ropes: Michael’s First Experiences With Small Boats and Windward Sailing

Exploring the Local Harbor

As a kid growing up near the coast of Rhode Island, you spent countless summer days exploring the harbor in your little Sunfish sailboat. You taught yourself to rig the boat, read the wind, and tack against the breeze. There is nothing like the thrill of harnessing the wind to power your adventures. 

A Natural Talent Emerges

Your parents soon noticed your natural talent for sailing and enrolled you in youth sailing camps. There, seasoned instructors helped hone your skills and fueled your passion for the sport. You devoured books on sailing strategy and learned the finer points of racing. By age 12, you were crewing on larger boats and winning local regattas. 

The Call of the Sea

After high school, the open ocean beckoned. You spent a summer crewing on charter sailboats in the Caribbean, an experience that left you hungry for more. The following year, you enrolled in a seamanship program in Maine to gain knowledge on larger oceangoing vessels.

Those formative adventures revealed your destiny: a lifetime spent voyaging Windward over the rolling sea.

 Decades later, you’ve sailed tens of thousands of miles, but those early days exploring the harbor and tacking upwind remain some of your most cherished memories. The joy of discovery and the thrill of mastering a new skill stay with you.

Taking the Helm: Michael Clements’ First Major Solo Voyage

In 1976, at 25, Michael Clements set sail on his first major solo voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. He had spent years honing his sailing skills along the coasts of England and was ready to take the helm for a more significant challenge. Michael chose to sail from Plymouth, England, to the Caribbean island of Antigua—a harrowing 3,000 nautical-mile journey.

After stocking up on supplies and making final preparations, Michael set sail from Plymouth aboard his 36-foot yacht, the Gaia II.

 The first few days were uneventful, with calm seas and fair winds. But soon, storms arose, pummeling his small boat with towering waves and howling winds. During one vicious three-day storm, Michael was thrown about the cabin, suffering cuts and bruises as he struggled to keep the Gaia II on course.

Exhausted yet exhilarated, Michael finally arrived in Antigua after 21 days at sea. His successful solo crossing of the Atlantic cemented his reputation as a skilled and fearless sailor. The voyage taught Michael resilience in the face of hardship and the ability to find inner peace amid chaos. These qualities would serve him well in future adventures at sea and life.

Michael’s inaugural transatlantic voyage began a lifelong passion for open-ocean sailing. Over the following decades, he completed several more solo crossings and circumnavigations of the globe, always with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the power and beauty of the sea. For Michael Clements, the call of the open ocean couldn’t be ignored.

Charting His Course: Notable Expeditions and Races Michael Participated In

As an avid adventurer, Michael didn’t follow the typical career path. Instead, he set sail to forge his way. Some of his most notable adventures include:

The 1977 Single-Handed Transatlantic Race

In 1977, Michael competed in the Observer Single-Handed Transatlantic Race, one of the most challenging solo yachting events. He sailed his 39-foot yacht, Windward, from Plymouth, UK to Newport, Rhode Island, finishing in just over 23 days. The grueling race tested his physical and mental endurance as he battled exhaustion, equipment failures, and rough weather. His successful completion cemented his status as a world-class solo sailor.

Exploring the Pacific

Michael spent over a decade exploring the Pacific, visiting many remote islands and cultures. In 1980, he became one of the first Westerners to visit the Marquesas Islands in over a century. He lived among the native tribes for several months, learning their customs and way of life. His accounts of these adventures were published in sailing magazines, bringing tales of these little-known places to armchair adventurers worldwide.

Racing Around the World

In the 1982-83 BOC Challenge, Michael raced solo worldwide in his yacht Windward, finishing 4th out of 12 competitors. The 33,000 nautical mile race started in Newport, went down to Cape Horn, across the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean, around South Africa, and back up the Atlantic to the finish. Battling huge waves, storms, and equipment issues, he completed the race in 157 days, cementing his status as one of the world’s top shorthanded sailors.

Through skill and determination, Michael charted a course all his own. He let nothing stand in the way of seeking new adventures and following the horizon wherever it may lead. His story lives on as an inspiration to those who dare to sail against the wind.

Leaving a Legacy: How Michael Clements Windward Inspired Future Generations of Sailors

Michael Clements Windward dedicated his life to sailing and adventure. Through his books and teachings, he has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams of excitement and discovery on the open sea.

Writing About His Adventures

Michael chronicled his sailing voyages in several books, including the popular ‘Sailing Into the Unknown’ and ‘Braving the Waves.’ These transported readers to distant shores and shared the wonder of life at sea. For aspiring sailors, his vivid accounts of exotic destinations and conquering challenging conditions stirred a thirst for adventure.

Mentoring New Sailors

Not only did Michael write about sailing, but he also taught it. At sailing schools in the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand, Michael trained over 5,000 students in seamanship and safety. His charismatic teaching style and wealth of experience gave new sailors the skills and confidence to cast off.

Continuing the Legacy

Michael Clements Windward passed away in 2019 at 67, but his legacy lives on. The Michael Clements Windward Foundation provides scholarships for young sailors to develop their skills and undertake their first offshore voyages. His books remain popular and continue to inspire each new generation of seafarers. Through his writing and mentorship, Michael fostered a community of sailors who share his passion for navigating the globe under the power of the wind.

The adventures of Michael Clements Windward remind us that life is meant to be lived fully by following our passions into the unknown. For those inspired by tales of life at sea, his legacy provides a course to chart and a community to join. By sharing his love of sailing with others, Michael Clements Windward started ripples that continue to spread across the oceans he so dearly loved.

Michael Clements Windward

Michael Clements Windward was born with saltwater in his veins. From a young age, he was enthralled by the sea and ships. His first solo sailing trip at age 12 cemented his passion for adventure and life on the water.

A thirst for adventure

As a teen, Michael saved up to purchase his sailboat to explore the waters around New Zealand. He spent his weekends and holidays sailing up and down the coast, stopping at secluded beaches and visiting small towns. After graduating from university, Michael set off on a multi-year sailing journey across the Pacific. He island-hopped through French Polynesia, navigated the treacherous waters of the Coral Sea, and sailed through Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Building a business

Michael eventually returned home to New Zealand but knew he couldn’t stay on land for long. He launched a charter yacht company, offering private sailing tours to adventurous travelers looking to experience the beauty of New Zealand from the water. Michael loves sharing his passion for sailing and the ocean with his clients. When he’s not captaining charters, Michael undertakes personal voyages to little-explored corners of the South Pacific.

Michael Clements Windward is most at home on the open water, whether at the helm of his charter yacht or his sailboat. A life defined by courage, freedom, and adventure is the only life this intrepid sailor desires. The call of the sea is one he hopes never to stop hearing.


So there you have it, my friend. The incredible life story of Michael Clements Windward, a man who lived life to the fullest. From his early adventures at sea to his groundbreaking solo circumnavigation, Michael showed us what it means to follow your dreams no matter how crazy they seem. 

His courage, determination, and thirst for adventure continue to inspire new generations of sailors and explorers worldwide. And that, in the end, is the most incredible legacy any of us can hope to leave behind – a legacy of passion, purpose, and possibility that lights the way for others. Michael Windward accomplished that and so much more in his action-packed seventy-five years on this planet. May his memory sail on for centuries.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button