There are several unusual features of the 'Mill that are worthy of mention. First, there are no frames! The construction techniques laid down by designer Mills calls for a building jig to be constructed. The plywood hull is constructed on the jig with longerons forming the hull shape; the longerons are in turn stiffened by two thwarts and the transom piece. The result is a impressively strong, but extremely lightweight hull.
Another feature that sets the Mill apart from some other one-designs are full length flotation tanks, which makes her a self-rescuing boat. An unweighted wood boat will not sink if capsized and filled with water, however she will have the stability of a log; she may even prefer the turtle position! The self-rescuing Windmill eliminates the problem. If she is dumped, the 'Mill lies on her side with a natural waterline half-way up the deck. The skipper simply pushes on the 5-foot lever called a daggerboard and the boat rights with little water inside, which is quickly removed by suction bailers, once underway.
Sailing and Handling - Even though the 'Mill is easily righted, a boat sailing on its side tends to be slow. The hard chines and moderate sail area limit the amount of heeling in a hard gust, giving the skipper and crew time to ease sails and hike out to keep the boat on her feet and driving.
First time sailors of the boat often describe her as tipsy and this is especially true when boarding, because of the narrow forebody. But after a few sails they learn how to position their weight in the boat and start to really enjoy the sense of acceleration that she gives. But understand, she is a boat to sail, not ride! Her performance is achieved without a spinnaker or trapeze, which keeps the cost down, sailing uncomplicated, and eliminates the need for a specially trained crew. You can enjoy performance and fun with your children, wife, or friends.
Specifications - The minimum hull weight is only 198 pounds! This allows the boat to be either car topped or carried on a light duty trailer. The full set of Windmill specs (rigging, sails, etc...) can be found at Specifications. Some of the basic numbers for the Windmill are:
Length Overall 15' 6"
Beam 4' 9"
Sail Area 119 sq. ft.
Draft - Board Down 4' 2" / Board Up 6"
Mast Height 20' 3"
Level 89.7 Light air 92.3 Medium 91.4 Heavy 86.4
If you want to see how the Windmill compares to other popular classes, check out this table of dinghy Portsmouth Ratings.