Tahoe Star comes home, renewed

The Tahoe Star prepares to accept bookings for private charters.
Ashleigh Goodwin Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — For decades, the Tahoe Star offered captivating experiences on Lake Tahoe for VIPs and celebrities such as Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Robin Williams, among the many.

After a period of disrepair, and near loss of certification required by the coast guard, the Tahoe Star has returned to the Jewel of the Sierra and is now available to the general public for private charters under new ownership.

“The coast guard inspection was going to expire because of engine issues,” part owner Zach Shearer told the Tribune. “We got it running and during the one year grace period we were able to get the COI (certificate of inspection) renewed.”

“Basically the entire boat was stripped,” said Ryan Hiner, of Tahoe Star Charters. “The original motor overheated and caused a bunch of damage.”

The Tahoe Star is new inside and out.
Ashleigh Goodwin Tahoe Daily Tribune

Shearer said Hiner was the one to fix the original motor to get it recertified. 

“They didn’t really want to sell, but they either sold it or put a bunch of money into it,” Shearer said. “We thought we were going to do a little paint job and a little engine work but that wasn’t the case.” 

After a year and a half, the Tahoe Star is expected to begin booking private charters for a fully customizable experience.

Shearer, the 25-year old South Lake Tahoe local, graduated from the SUNY Maritime College in New York during COVID and looks forward to being captain of the private charter boat.

Zach Shearer, captain and part owner of the Tahoe Star.
Ashleigh Goodwin Tahoe Daily Tribune

“Our commitment is to provide unparalleled experiences and create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s a corporate event, a family celebration, or a romantic getaway, we’re dedicated to crafting tailor-made journeys on the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe,” Shearer said.

It’s more than a yacht experience, the boat itself is part of the area’s history.

“Tahoe Star Charters is the premium charter company in Lake Tahoe, continuing the legacy of Bill Harrah. Specializing in private charters for events, celebrations, and intimate cruises. Tahoe Star Charters offers unforgettable experiences amidst the stunning beauty of Lake Tahoe,” said Taylor Shearer, media contact for Tahoe Star Charters, in a statement.

The statement included the history of Bill Harrah, the founder of Harrah’s Entertainment, now known as Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Harrah was known to provide a luxury experience for his most esteemed guests aboard his 55-foot long torpedo shaped yacht named Thunderbird, purchased from George Whittell of the North Shore in 1962. 

In 1976 beloved Thunderbird became defunct and needed extensive repairs, according to the Tahoe Star’s statement, which is when Harrah turned his attention to the design of a vessel that combined speed, luxury, and comfort.

“Harrah personally selected Huckins Yacht Corporation of Jacksonville, Florida, to build his new flagship. Huckins Yacht Corporation caught Mr. Harrah’s attention during World War II when they constructed PT boats for the U.S. Navy. Impressed by the handling capabilities of his own PT boat, Mr. Harrah entrusted Huckins Yacht Corporation to construct a custom luxury yacht reminiscent of the old PT boats,” the statement continued. 

“Construction on the 54-foot Tahoe Star began in early 1977, adhering to Mr. Harrah’s specifications, which included ample and comfortable seating for his esteemed guests and twin-turbocharged V-8 diesel engines for effortless cruising at speeds exceeding 30 knots. Upon completion, the Tahoe Star was christened by Mrs. Harrah and launched into the waters off Jacksonville for sea trials.” 

“Following the interior completion by Henry Conversano and Associates of Oakland, the Tahoe Star was transported across the country to Lake Tahoe in May 1978. Harrah’s and Huckins crews collaborated to make final preparations for the yacht’s launch. On June 30, 1978, the Tahoe Star embarked on its maiden cruise on Lake Tahoe, honoring Bill Harrah’s vision, although he could not witness its presence on the lake.”

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