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Eight Bells: Fred Mills

Published on August 16th, 2018

Frederick Allen Mills III

Frederick Allen Mills III passed peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family on July 5th, 2018 at the age of 69 after a heroic battle against cancer. Fred started sailing when he was 21 which turned into a lifelong passion that led him to sail thousands of miles all around the world. He was an amazing husband and father who instilled a similar passion for the ocean in his family and raised them on the water.

In May 1986, he sailed through the storm that sunk the Pride of Baltimore off the coast of Bermuda. He and his wife, Eileen, were hove to for five days in the storm and sustained damage to the rig of their sailboat, Valhalla. Once the storm calmed, he used one sighting on his sextant when the clouds parted for a few minutes and a jury-rigged sail to get their crew safely into Bermuda, 150 miles away.

This is just one of many amazing tales of his seamanship. He also crossed the Atlantic in 1975 from the Canaries to Barbados in a 39ft steel boat that was becalmed for over 10 days which led to a 34 day crossing where he and his crew arrived just as they ran out of food and water.

He and his wife also owned several legendary racing sailboats that he adapted to fast cruising including the C&C 50 Red Leg, a custom Morgan 60 Cayenne, Peter Blake’s Farr 68 Ceramco NZ, and the 80ft maxi Kialoa V. On Kialoa, he and his family made many fast passages including crossing the Atlantic from Gibraltar to Dominica in 17 days and from Greenport, NY to Bermuda in two days and nineteen hours in a sustained 50 knots of wind and huge seas.

On these boats, Fred invited friends, family, and strangers on board and changed the lives of many people by introducing them to a lifelong passion for sailing. One friend reflects, “Fred and his family bringing me sailing to Bermuda and the Caribbean changed my life forever. Teaching me to sail big boats set me on the right path.”

Beyond sailing, Fred was a successful real estate investor and restaurateur. He owned the bar/restaurants Kerry’s and Gilligan’s early on. And then in partnership with his wife, Eileen, he founded many well-known restaurants in Lake Placid, NY including Three Guy’s & I, The Caribbean Cowboy, and The Farmhouse.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen Wikoff Mills, and his two sons Frederick A. Mills IV and Nelson M. Mills. He is predeceased by his parents, Frederick A. Mills II and Patricia Mills nee Nelson, and his two brothers David Mills and Robert Mills.

There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, September 1 from 4-6pm at the Mills family home on 30 Greenwood Street, Lake Placid, NY. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Virgin Island Sports Fund in his name.

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