With a pirate flag flying high and his eye patch lowered, Captain Jerry Summers had the Tahoe Queen full steam ahead.
The Queen didn't seem to be gaining any distance on the M.S. Dixie II as they approached the buoy turn in the annual Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race Saturday.
"We need some more folks back at the stern. Argh, they're half a boat length ahead of us," Summers said in his pirate voice. "We'll be taking you scallywags down and keel hogging you if you don't get back in the stern. Ye be warned."
As people moved to the back, the added weight pushed the Queen's paddle wheel deeper into the water and she surged ahead.
If the Queen had any hope of winning, she needed to gain four boat lengths on the Dixie in the turn. The Dixie would be faster in the straightaway so the Queen's turn would need to be flawless.
It would be close, but it looked like the Queen had a shot until her turn buoy started migrating North.
"There's mutiny afoot," Summers said as a powerboat continued to push his turn buoy farther away.
Summers adjusted course and called for everyone on starboard stern. The right paddlewheel dug in as he made a sharp hook turn. The turn was smooth and the Queen came out three boat lengths ahead of the Dixie, but Summers knew they had needed four.
With the thruster all the way down Summers once again called for everyone to the stern, but the Dixie was barreling down on them. With one mile to go, it was over and Summers knew it as a raucous Dixie slipped by.
"We had them three boats coming out of that turn, but we just didn't have enough to get them at the end," Summers said.
The Dixie won by two boat lengths and Summers headed to the plank to accept the losing prize of a Barton Health Bedpan, as in he should have stayed in bed. Summers graciously waved his bedpan prize to the crowd hoping it wasn't used, while the Dixie received the Korbel Tahoe Cup and added another win to its now 12-8 record.
There's always next year, Summers said. In the meantime, he plans to track down the Queen's lucky Jack Sparrow mascot that mysteriously disappeared before the race.
"By next year we're going to try to find captain Jack," Summers said. "We're looking for him in the lake in case someone dumped his body, but I think somebody took him home with them."