INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — True to its name, the Sierra Cloud glides slowly and softly across the calm waters of the Lake Tahoe, where the topaz water spreads out to touch the distant mountains, which stand still against sky.
That’s assuming, of course, that you’re a privileged sailor out on a windless day.
The Sierra Cloud, chartered by Action Water Sports of Incline Village, runs two cruises daily and carries different people from different places across the lake through many different kinds of weather.
Jason Crawford and Gary Scott co-own and operate Action Water Sports and spend the summer ensuring that tourists and locals play with top of the line water toys, fall in love with the lake and have a blast.
“It’s a very unique experience if you’re not from Tahoe,” Scott said.
The company boasts 15 power boats and 15 personal watercraft vessels, as well as a boat for wakeboarding and one for parasailing.
Action Water Sports is located on the beach at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, and its Burnt Cedar and Incline beach locations house kayaks and paddleboards available for rent.
“If it floats we probably have it,” said Crawford, who believes that “being able to see the mountains from the middle of the lake” adds another element to a vacation here.
Crawford came back to Incline from Las Vegas when he heard Action Water Sports was for sale. He changed his suit and tie for khaki shorts and flip flops.
“It was a much better opportunity than sitting in a cubicle the rest of my life,” Crawford said as he sat wearing shorts and sunglasses at a picnic table on the sand. “I’m not stuck inside — I get to interact with people who want to have fun.”
Scott said the Sierra Cloud catamaran could be the fastest on the lake. The double-hull vessel was built in Fort Townsend in Washington but was assembled in Incline 25 years ago.
The Cloud carries 40 people to the North and East shores and offers live music on its sunset cruises Friday and Saturday evenings.
Scott said Tahoe is one of the world’s best boating lakes. Coming from the boating world of South Florida, the boat enthusiast loves “the fresh water, the no-salt-on-your-sunglasses” boating in Lake Tahoe.
He loves the Sierra Cloud, but there is another toy owned by Action Water Sports of Incline Village that holds a place in his heart.
“A classic, Ernest Hemingway type boat,” he said to describe the company’s 28-foot Bertram Sportfish.
Scott’s and Crawford’s idea is to provide everything, above and beyond, for the client, and the Bertram is a prime example of that — it offers a full bar, bait, tackle, and cleaning and packaging services of the clients’ daily catches.
“We were like any other boat company 20 years ago,” Scott said. “We’ve adjusted to the Hyatt’s high-end clientele.”
Action Water Sports rents Cobalts, Formulas and C-Rays, all top-of-the-line equipment.
A few weeks ago, Jay Leatherwood escaped the heat in Houston to come play in Tahoe.
He decided to take a cruise on the Sierra Cloud “to get some sun, instead of just laying on the beach.”
A guest at the Hyatt, Leatherwood said the partnership between the Hyatt and Action Water Sports is a “win win.
The staff at Action Water Sports add to the experience, as the captain and crew offer history and facts about the lake during the excursions on the Cloud. Attentive drink service and snacks provide smooth sailing as well.
Employee and deckhand Katie Enloe learns the ropes as she pauses from passing out fresh fruit, cheese and crackers to guests aboard the Sierra Cloud.
“I grew up on the water,” Enloe said. “It’s where I feel most comfortable and it’s where the love lies.”
After his thorough safety briefing, Captain Kendal Banks explains the process of sailing to guests, and upon approaching the famous Thunderbird Lodge, he recounts the folklore-like story of former owner George Whitell.
Stories of pet tigers and hidden tunnels help listeners to envision the history of the legendary man and his lake front home.
After guests’ thirsts are quenched, appetites satisfied and curiosity intrigued, the Sierra Clouds begins its journey back to the Hyatt.