Raise the curtain, hoist the sail
As winter exits Lake Tahoe’s stage and spring makes its entrance, marina players are rehearsing for a successful summer showing.
The performance usually consists of hundreds of boaters and jet skiers and runs from the Fourth of July to Labor Day.
Act I: Preparing for opening night
Dwayne Davis, assistant harbor master at the Lakeside Marina, said people have already started getting their boats summerized.
Davis said most marina regulars live at the lake year round or have second homes and prepare their boats for storage in the winter and for play in the summer.
To get boats ready to run, Lakeside reconnects hoses, reinserts plugs, reconnects batteries, checks for leaks and makes sure lights, gauges and belts are working correctly.
The basic summer tune-up costs about $72 and takes an hour.
Although Davis said people can start thinking about preparing for the summer now, he warns them not to put their boats in the water too early. There is a danger that engine blocks could freeze at any time due to the unpredictability of late Sierra snowstorms.
Lakeside Operations Manager Roger Gadsby said the marina summerizes about 40 boats every year. He said boats left in the water all summer will also need to be detailed, with their hulls scrubbed and decks waxed.
Gadsby said boat owners can expect to shell out between $2,000 and $2,500 per year for gas, routine maintenance and for summer and winter preparations, depending on how much people use their boats and for what purposes. Fisherman who sit in one location can have days, even weeks and months of fun on one tank of gas. But those who spend their days pulling wakeboarders and skiers may have to fuel up twice a day.
Boaters and jet skiers can expect to pay 20 percent more at a marina pump than at gas stations. Gadsby said people are essentially paying for the luxury of fueling up from the water.
Act II: The big show
Once boats have been checked out and tuned-up Davis said there are a few things operators can do to safeguard against mechanical difficulties.
“The biggest problem I see every year is not putting the outdrive all the way down in the water when you start it,” he said. “You can do damage to the internal parts.”
Davis said boaters should make sure gauges are working correctly during each outing, should stay away from the shore to avoid sand and should warm up boats before running them.
Boaters are also advised to keep their boats up to U.S. Coast Guard safety standards. A fire extinguisher, oars and enough life jackets for everyone on the boat should always be on board.
In order to protect the lake’s clarity, many marinas around the lake will accept used oil and oil filters to be recycled, along with giving out free absorbent bilge pillows to soak up oil.
One drop of oil can remain in Lake Tahoe for 700 years, and one gallon of used oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.
Act III: Keeping compliant
People who want to store their boats in the water can either rent a marina slip, apply for a buoy application in front of their lakefront residence or use one of their homeowners’ association buoys.
There are several marinas that rent slips on the South Shore, although Tahoe Keys Marina has a waiting list and Davis said a lot of Lakeside’s slips have already been reserved.
Shorezone applications for buoys can be obtained at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and have to go through review.
If buoys are in an area of allowable use and can be approved at the staff level, the application fees are $830.
However, if a buoy is proposed in some place that isn’t common or the circumstances need additional review, application fees are $1,380 and require TRPA Governing Board approval.
Pam Drum, TRPA public affairs coordinator, said the agency is aware of several illegal buoys. She said TRPA officials are working to get the buoys compliant instead of removing them altogether.
Act IV: Curtain call
This is the last season for two-stroke engines that have taken advantage of a three-year grace period enacted when TRPA banned the dirtier engines on Lake Tahoe in 1999.
Two-stroke auxiliary sailboats, boats with 10 horsepower or less and any carbureted two-stroke engines that only meet EPA 2001 standards will have to be compliant as of Oct. 1.
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