Windmill Rigging Guide

Always Under Construction

but mostly finished as of January 21, 2003

compiled by Don Malpas  Owner of Windmill #5001, Trashy Woman

This is written to try to give you some ideas on the various ways to rig a Windmill. Most of the opinions are personal, but I have drawn heavily on ideas from other Windmillers, notably Jim Lingeman who always seems to have very workable rigging methods. With the advent of this document, those asking for rigging suggestions, will now get a copy of this, rather than the personal reply that I would like to give, but at least you will get information that has been proven accurate and reliable over many years.

Every topic in this document is taken from a reply to someone's question. The document is jumbled; but I suspect you can sift through it and find the information you want, and perhaps some other useful information.

Main Sheet

Jib Sheet

Travelers and Bridles




Jib Halyard Adjustment

Whisker Pole

Hiking Straps and Stick

Rigging Pictures

Other Topics

Pictures of Impossible Dream

I have owned three Windmills. (#127 wood, of course; #3523 a Moorman fiberglass and #5001 the third McLaughlin fiberglass hull built). The very best suggestion I can give on rigging is to look at some other Windmills.  I have not met a sailor yet that would not be glad to tell you at length why his boat is rigged the way it is and why it is the best way to do it.

The Class Plans and Specifications govern all aspects of the Windmill, but the location and type of rigging is in most cases left up to the owner. Experience dictates the best placement for some controls; for others, it is a personal choice. Since there are so many ways to lead lines on a 'Mill, it comes down to how much sail control do you want and how much will you pay for it? If you day sail exclusively, then you do not need a lot of strings to pull, nor clutter up the boat with expensive go-fasts that sooner or later will need maintenance. If you intend to race, then you may want some, but not all controls at once. Day-sailors should not be intimidated by the gadgets on a racing boat, we do not know how to use most of them anyway!

Please note: This article outlines several ways to do the same thing. A simple way will be presented along with more complex and costly methods. Sailors, especially racers, seem to like gadgets. If you rig your 'Mill using only the simple solutions, it will be more than fast enough. The question will be, can you keep up with the boat? I have two complex controls on my boat that I wish I had never installed, they have proved not worth the effort or the cost. When I finally learned to sail the boat and not spend so much time pulling strings, I started to win races. More than one Windmill Nationals has been won by boats without any fancy controls. My best advise, keep it simple!

Before you start drilling holes to attach your new gadgets, think it out, measure, draw a picture, even tape the parts in position and run a line through them. Sit in the boat. Is it really where you want it? Does it bind? Will it be in the way of another control you do not have rigged yet?.

If you are re-rigging a Moorman fiberglass hull this paragraph will be of interest. If not, skip to the next. My experience with Moorman hulls is that there are some thin spots in the inner hull, which may fracture, if a high load is placed on the fitting. If you can squeak your hand past the foam in the tanks, back the fitting with a  stainless or AL plate to distribute the force and thru-bolt. If this is not feasible, use 3/8" well nuts, just do not over-tighten. Seal all holes with silicon to maintain the integrity of the tanks.

Before we get started, you will notice that I site specific hardware, this is because I am familiar with the brand, it is generally available and I have found that a lot of other hardware just does not last. I have a preference for cast aluminum clam cleats, rather than plastic ones. The latter will last about one year, so spend the extra two dollars up front and be done with it. You will not need any control lines larger than 1/4 inch, so don't buy any $12 clam cleats, those are for big boats. One more preference, Samson Trophy Braid line, the fuzzy stuff. Sometimes hard to find, but it is the best in my opinion, because it feels good to the hand and stays in the cleats better than a hard finished line. It is available in colors, so you can use colors to distinguish the lines. Quite nice if you are sailing with a novice, you only have to say pull the green one. I suggest 5/16 inch line for the jib and main sheets and 1/4 for all other lines. The heavier line is nice on the hands, your crew will appreciate it.

If there is a marina close to you, try to do business with them, but also order catalogs from West Marine. They have a very complete offering, fair prices and good service. This way you will know how much the local is charging for assistance and convenience. But be fair, don't buy mail order and then ask the local for help.

In most (but not all) control systems described a suggested hardware list is provided to aid you to identify and locate the hardware to rig the boat.  No single supplier stocks all of the items. And none of the hardware is Windmill specific.

Explanation of abbreviations on the hardware list:

The manufacturer and the manufacturers part number is given in column Mfg.#
The manufacturer codes used are:
          H        Harken
          HA      Holt Allen
          NF      Nicro Fico
          RL      Race Lite

SRC indicates the supplier.  The supplier codes are:
          R/L     Race Lite       Maple Heights, OH    (216) 581-4600  [VERIFY]

          WES    West Marine   Watsonville, CA         (800) 262-8464

          N/S     No specific supplier.

First Published - September, 1985, Revision 13 - January, 2003

Anything that has taken so much time, over so many years, should have a dedication. It could be to a person, but I think that "sailing into the sunset" or "up a moonbeam" is more to my liking.