Bloomfield Hills resident Bill Sutherland is the base manager for SailTime Detroit, which provides sailing memberships for people of varying experience levels. One of Sutherland’s duties at SailTime includes teaching people how to sail.

Bloomfield Hills resident Bill Sutherland is the base manager for SailTime Detroit, which provides sailing memberships for people of varying experience levels. One of Sutherland’s duties at SailTime includes teaching people how to sail.

Photo provided by Bill Sutherland


Sailing can provide an ‘exhilarating’ escape for many Michiganders

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published August 1, 2019

METRO DETROIT — Despite “hanging on for dear life” on his first sailboat ride, more than 45 years later, Bloomfield Hills resident Bill Sutherland is still at it.

Aside from taking to the water himself, Sutherland also teaches others how to sail.

Sutherland is a licensed sailing captain and the base manager for SailTime Detroit, which offers memberships for those interested in sailing, minus the hassle of maintenance and the costs associated with ownership.

Some of SailTime’s clientele include people new to sailing, and one of Sutherland’s job responsibilities includes teaching them how to sail.

Sutherland said a lot of people are intrigued by the idea of sailing, and he shared some thoughts as to what it is they enjoy about it.

“For one thing, you’re active,” Sutherland said. “You’re out in the sunshine; you’re on the water, and that in itself is so therapeutic. … It’s calming. And to me, what I like about it is just tweaking the sails, tuning the boat, seeing how fast you can get it to go. I think that’s a lot of the fun. And if you’re really into that, you can get into racing.”

Detroit Boat Club instructor Bill Wayland also offered his perspective on what people enjoy about sailing.

“Peacefulness, overall, followed by (the) competitiveness for those that want to get into racing,” Wayland said. “But overall, many people, they were astounded by just how quiet it can be out there.”

One person who has had an opportunity to sail with Sutherland is Shelby Township resident Bryan James.

He described the experience as “exhilarating.”

“I’ve done it once or twice before, but it was probably about 20 years ago,” James said. “Myself and my wife were interested in it, so I finally booked some time out there, and it was great; she loved it, I loved it. … We’ll probably consider taking lessons, maybe getting a boat.”

One of the reactions Wayland has gotten when taking people sailing for the first time is a “big grin.”

“It’s very enjoyable, especially when they come back for the second year or move onto another boat,” Wayland said. “Where the laugh is, (is) when they show up towards the end of the class and say, ‘Hey, I bought a boat.’”

Wayland said that sailing has been his favorite hobby for the last 15 years, and that he had to give up golf.

Despite the work it takes to operate a sailboat, Wayland said, “It’s still very relaxing. Most of (the) cares you have are gone halfway through the sail.”

Although powerboats provide another fun summer activity for many Michiganders, Sutherland discussed what he considers to be the difference.

“With a powerboat, it’s all about your destination,” he said. “With a sailboat, the journey is the destination. Being on the boat and being on the journey is the destination in itself. When I got my boat, the one I have now, it was delivered; it had a full tank of fuel, and I used it for a year and a half before I had to put fuel in it. It cost $34.”

For as much as Michigan has to offer sailors, there are also adventures that can be found on the water outside of the state.

“I have a love for traveling,” James said. “Sailboats, you can take (them) anywhere. … It opens the world up to you.”