New boat, historic name
Hornblower Cruises’ new yellow shuttle boat produced plenty of red taillights Friday as people stopped to take a second look.
Built in 1993, the boat is named after the historic logging steamer S.S. Meteor, which was scuttled in 1940 after 65 years on Lake Tahoe.
The 80-foot ship traveled half the speed of Hornblower’s new 100-passenger Meteor, but the old cargo steamer proved its worth by hauling lumber. The highway around the lake replaced the logging ship operation in 1938, local historian Lyn Landauer said Monday.
The S.S. Meteor was sunk in the lower depths of Lake Tahoe because it became too expensive to dock, she added. Mystery surrounds its location.
The modern Meteor docked at the Lakeside Marina after fueling up at the Tahoe Keys Marina Friday. The boat traveled on an 18-wheeler Thursday from Sacramento to Reno and Carson City Friday morning before reaching the South Shore.
Hornblower would not disclose the purchase price for the vessel, which was formerly used for summer harbor tours by Argosy Cruises in Seattle. At Lake Tahoe, the boat may sport a cover for the winter months.
“We’re pretty excited about it because we’ve created a new form of scenic transportation that allows people to get out of their cars and get a nice perspective of Tahoe,” said Andy Chapman, Hornblower’s director of sales and marketing.
The passenger boat is intended to shuttle sightseers, kayakers, rafters and cyclists around the lake to the Ski Run and Tahoe City marinas and Sand Harbor State Park. Plans call for four round trips a day, Chapman said, with tickets costing $25.
Hornblower hopes to begin commercial trips shortly after the Meteor is christened Aug. 26 – the 125th anniversary of the shuttle’s namesake. It will dock either at Lakeside Marina or a buoy off Ski Run Marina.
Commercial operation requires a South Lake Tahoe city permit and approval by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. TRPA spokeswoman Pam Drum said the primary considerations include traffic and parking around the docking marinas. Hornblower management is confident that approval will be granted.
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