ON THE TRACK OF THE WINDFINDERS


                               WELCOME ON BOARD !


We set sail from the North Sea and head out to wherever the swarm was last seen – a growing family of unmanned and mysterious vessels underway to the origin of the wind. Most sightings are reported from somewhere between Oceania and Alaska…




With a traditional sailing ship rebuilt into a traveling wind laboratory, we follow a sparkling trail of ideas that known and unknown Windfinders leave behind on the islands. We are NOT trying to retrieve the original Windvinder – the Winged Canoe is underway in the unknown and that’s exactly what it is built for. (It is light as a feather, by the way, don’t worry about meeting it at sea. You can push it away with one hand. Sailcloth filled with wind…) A new Flying Dutchman… built to disappear and reappear, to become a legend, and to pass through many hands. Every part of this unmanned vessel bears instructions for those who will find it: people are asked to repair and improve the ship and put it back on course.

Why should they bother?


They do. Since years. Not for money, not for an unknown expedition leader – but why then? That’s one of the questions of this expedition…


The swarm lives and grows. Again and again the Winged Canoe is spotted – each time in a changed form. And more and more often, coming closer, it turns out to be a new one…! The most incredible vessels appear - fantastic bamboo constructions built on islands and even on fishing boats, with sails from fish skin instead of epoxy airfoils… some bigger, some smaller, but all on the way to where the wind comes from, steered and driven by wind alone. Some make mysterious music, others glow at night…

Imagine to find such a jewel in the middle of the ocean, no, don’t imagine - 

Come with us and meet them in person!




Following reports of sightings, we sail from island to island, visit construction sites and finders, gather stories, rumors, songs and sketches... fragments of encounters of the growing swarm of Windfinders with the makers of their life journey.  I'm working on the film, and the Great Book of Wind and Finders.


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Documentation and reconstruction is one task of our expedition, repairing and improving wrecked members of the swarm another one.

Above all we do what most people do who ever meet a Windfinder: take this inspiration and make something of it. Turn headwind into propulsion, that’s the challenge… We build new, life-size and seaworthy Windfinders wherever we find the opportunity - together with the people of the islands and the material of their shores and legends. 














All kinds of sails, wings and fins, flexible boat hulls that move like a fish - almost everything can be made from bamboo, driftwood, fishing line and skin...  The newer generations of Windfinders need no more wind turbines and ship's propellers, no gear box, metal or machines: no shipyards. Just some driftwood and a free horizon… All the more imagination and careful observation of nature sits in them.


More and more the windships learn from birds, fishes and marine mammals - and become creatures of the sea themselves.



We will travel for years, from one island to the next. We analyze pilot charts, weather forecasts and storm reports to reconstruct the possible route of the swarm – but we have to react flexibly to everything we hear and find. Set course from one rumor to the next, chasing a winged canoe which looks different every time and is sailing where the wind comes from: beyond our horizon. That’s where we want to go!


The ship for this voyage around the world is the classic sailing yacht THOR. A good and seaworthy vessel… a ship with a soul. I grew up on it, and sail it in the third generation of my family. It is completely refitted and well equipped as self sufficient expedition vessel. After years of restoration and a successful test voyage across the North Sea in 2014, we are ready for you to jump on board - right now doing tryout trips for people who are interested to sail as first mate on the expedition.  (Opens internal link in current windowContact us now - you can still join!) 

We have new stays and sails, but don’t worry, we won’t tack around the world against the wind to meet a fleet of unmanned ghost ships. While a Windfinder moves upwind all his life, we just sail downwind! Luckily the world is round… we will meet them on the other side.


This is, roughly, our route: Through North Sea and Channel, across the Atlantic, through Panama, first time across the Pacific with the Northeast trades (where the swarm of Windfinders is living in the moment); and since some will escape to the north and to the south, we head from the West Pacific first north to the Aleutians, then down the fjords of Alaska, British Columbia, North-west coast USA… Then second Pacific crossing with the Southeast trades, Torres Strait, Indian Ocean, Cape of Good Hope, up the Atlantic and home to the North Sea.


If you are interested to sail with us, please contact us for further details, and we will see where you can join and when. (Yes, you can also come on board for parts of the voyage…:-)




We make this voyage to connect finders, findings and ideas, and work out new ways of how to sail to where the wind comes from. You can learn a lot here, if you want – just as the original Windvinder is underway to evolve from a quite mechanical vessel with gearbox and propeller to a creature that’s perfectly adapted to the ocean and the wind. Driven by headwind means: every wreckage is just the next step in the evolution, giving hints on what should be changed, inviting to try out new solutions.

Together with the islanders we develop new means of wind propulsion, and an experimental way of building boats from what we find on the islands, derived from the traditional boats of where we sail – mainly the canoes of Oceania and kayaks of Alaska – but pointing into the future: where the wind comes from. Fast and flexible constructions, able to learn. A tuna, an albatross, a sea lion… – how do THEY that? Move so easily. We study wings and fins and flexing bodies, in the ocean as well as in the library on board; build boat hulls that move like a fish, wings in the air, changing form all the time. You can build a strong boat like an icebreaker – or like a sea bird…



Welcome in this flying laboratory, traveling where wind and water meet…
You don’t have to be an engineer, nor a scientist, to join this project. But you should be interested to find out more (or share what you know) about aerodynamics, hydrodynamics and biomechanics of swimming and flying, about traditional Pacific boatbuilding and oceanography.

We need creative, enthusiastic and seaworthy people, curious and keen to experiment, happy to explore the most remote islands and the most remote ideas.




What you need is real (offshore) sailing experience – and what WE need are MEMBERS OF THE TEAM, no passengers.

Here on board everybody participates in everything: sailing the ship across the oceans, analyzing pilot charts, making contact with natives, doing research and experiments. A lot of diving, watching nature, and building crazy things… 



Wipke Iwersen
Expedition to the Origin of the Winds                                                                                                               

Designer and builder of the original Windvinder
(and newer generations of headwind vessels);
Art director and technical director;
Skipper of THOR


Please Opens internal link in current windowcontact us for more information.

see also Opens internal link in current windowWORKSHOP AT SEA.