Visitors delivered to Emerald Bay in thundering time |

Visitors delivered to Emerald Bay in thundering time

B.H. Bose

That low rumbling you hear across the lake may not be thunder, but one very fast boat transporting visitors from South Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay.

The Tahoe Thunder, a 33-foot offshore catamaran, with twin 502 (cubic inches) engines which when combined produce more than 800 horsepower, has been bringing people to one of the most picturesque locations in the nation from the Timber Cove Marina. What might take most tour boats a few hours to get to the mouth of Emerald Bay takes the Thunder just a few minutes.

“This is probably the fastest Coast Guard-certified (passenger-for-hire) boat in the country,” said Bob Hassett, president of Action Watersports of Lake Tahoe, the company behind the service. “This boat can cruise at 60 mph and it doesn’t matter if it’s smooth or choppy out.”

The twin-haul boat is one of three vessels to be built by Commercial Watersports, said Hassett, with the Thunder being the fastest. It can carry up to 12 people and contains fuel-injected engines, which are “as environmentally friendly as you can get,” Hassett added. Officials at Action Watersports of Lake Tahoe, which operates the Timber Cove Marina, the Meeks Bay Marina, and beach concessions at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, decided to offer the service so visitors could see Emerald Bay and still have a full day for other activities.

“There are alternative means (of tours), such as the Tahoe Queen and the Dixie, but I think there is a need to get people out there and see the lake without having to spend all day on the lake,” Hassett said.

Tours take slightly more than a half-hour. While it takes only a few minutes to get to and from the bay, the boat does slow to 5 mph and cruises through the popular tourist attraction site at a leisurely pace.

Hassett said the company will soon offer rides to Meeks Bay and back. The Tahoe Thunder is also available as a taxi service and can be rented out by the hour or by the day. So far, the service has been offered for more than a month and passengers seem to enjoy it, Hassett said.

“The people are loving it,” he said. “Everyone who comes down to see it and takes a ride in it is really excited.”

Prices for Emerald Bay tours are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. The Timber Cove Marina can be reached at 544-2942.

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