Escape the Crowds and Set Sail with Bella Sailing Cruises

Featured Tour Guide: Tom Schroeder

They show us all the hidden treasures of Door County, from hiking trails to water views, historical tidbits to adventurous excursions. There’s no doubt about it: The tour guides of the peninsula help to make the Door County experience anything but a run-of-the-mill vacation itinerary. This week we feature Tom Schroeder of Bella Sailing Cruises.

Sara Rae Lancaster (SRL): How long have you been doing sailboat cruises?
Tom Schroeder (TS): I’ve been doing this for 30 years. The idea came about when I was a carpenter. In the summer, when it was hot and sticky, I remember seeing other people doing sailboat cruises and thinking that it looked so much nicer. I thought if they can do it, I can do it.

SRL: Had you been interested in sailing before then?
TS: I’ve been sailing for 63 years, but I’ve always been fascinated by sailing since I was three years old. 

SRL: How long is a typical cruise?
TS: It’s two hours from the time we leave the dock to the time we return to the dock.

SRL: The tours depart from South Shore Pier in Ephraim. What are some of the sights people might see on one of your tours?
TS: The harbor by itself is fairly huge. So depending on the wind and how far we get out, we see Eagle Bluff, Nicolet Bay, Horseshoe Island. At times we can even see the smaller islands, and at times the Eagle Bluff light and even Fish Creek in the distance.

SRL: What sets Bella Sailing apart from other tours and opportunities for people to get out on the water? 

TS: Well, to start, we aren’t big. Schumacher [a German-British statistician and economist] said, “Small is beautiful,” and I really kind of believe that. Because of [the size], I can interact with all the passengers. It’s quiet and relaxing, and I have the opportunity to get them active in the boat and learn a little bit about sailing. I also talk a lot about the geology of Door County.

I also find that a lot of the people on my boat have never been sailing before. And so they’re usually a little nervous. So you add a little humor, and we really stress safety. I describe all the safety features and how to use them so they at least have a little confidence going out. 

A day on the water. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

SRL: What do you like most about your job?
TS: Honestly, it’s the fact that I meet new people all the time. One of the questions I’ll ask is, “What is cool to see in your area?” I learn a lot about a lot of different places.
And every day is different because of the weather and the way the wind changes. And of course there is the challenge and learning that comes from seeing what works in a business and what does not. I’ve been so lucky to take my life passion and turn it into a profession. There’s not a bad day at work. 

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