Michael Clay Winterburn

August 5, 1939 - May 16, 2021

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Michael Clay Winterburn, known by many as “Miguel,” left this world with a smile on his face as he made his final escape in the early morning hours of May 16, 2021. He was 81 years old.

He was a strong man in mind, body, and spirit who lived his life without compromise as he searched for perfect waves and strived for perfection in his creations. He left his mark on the communities that he lived over the years with his beautiful craftsmanship and unique outlook on life.

Michael was born Aug. 5, 1939, in Glendale, California, where he spent his early childhood until moving to Santa Cruz. Here he developed his love for the ocean, surfing, and later, boats. He embraced the surfing lifestyle and would become known as a pioneer in the Santa Cruz surf scene. He also became quite well known as a surfboard shaper under his own name, and for some time, as one of the first shapers for the O’Neill company.

As an adult he discovered his passion for building wooden boats and immersed himself fully into this venture. He worked and studied under Bill Grunwald in Davenport, Calif. and later with the renowned craftsman, Bob Prothero. His developed skill and natural ability lead him to a long career of building and repairing wooden boats. He was renowned and beloved among the boating community in Port Townsend and became a teacher and mentor to many.

He is survived by his five children, Noa, Bo, Aaron, John, and Michelle; two sisters, Jules and Denise; 13 grandchildren; five nieces; three beautiful ex-wives and mothers; and many great friends.

There will be a celebration of life held at 1 p.m. until dusk Saturday, June 26 at the Fort Worden kitchen shelter. Potluck and good stories are welcome.

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