INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A larger and better-equipped boat will patrol the Incline Village portion of Lake Tahoe this year, officials said Wednesday.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office recently bought a 28-foot Titan T280 Pilot aluminum boat with twin 300-horsepower Mercury outboard motors.
The roughly $275,000 vessel “will be equipped with the most technologically advanced” radar, sonar and GPS systems to assist with search, rescue and lifesaving missions along with routine marine patrol functions, according to the sheriff’s office.
“I know how important this vessel is to the Incline Village community and to the thousands of people who visit Lake Tahoe each year,” said Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen. “I am also aware how effectively this community and the sheriff’s office work together, and I look forward to strengthening that partnership in the future.”
The boat, named Marine 9, will replace the 14-year-old vessel of the same name that sank while unmanned on Memorial Day 2014 during “extreme weather conditions,” according to WCSO.
While the exact cause of the incident remains unknown, WCSO Lt. Jeff Clark, commander of the Incline Village Substation, said the sheriff’s office’s insurance company determined the 24-foot Almar boat a “total loss.”
It sank one year after WCSO spent nearly $50,000 in federal drug forfeiture money to remove its inboard/outboard drive system and retrofit it with two high-tech Evinrude outboards.
RELATED: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza editorial — safety must be top priority on our water.
Funding for the new Marine 9 is offset by a $101,000 insurance payout from the old boat, Clark said.
The rest will be paid through drug forfeiture funds, a move approved by the Washoe County Commission at the recommendation last year of former Sheriff Mike Haley.
The boat is being custom built and is scheduled to arrive in Washoe County the second week of May 2015.
Allen is expected to host a community celebration to christen the vessel’s launch on Lake Tahoe. Details will be announced in early spring.
SAFETY ON THE WATER
In addition to patrol duties, Marine 9 assists partner agencies on Lake Tahoe, including the Nevada Department of Wildlife, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and U.S. Coast Guard.
It’s one of three boats WCSO uses for patrols and search and rescue; the other two (Marines 10 and 20) are primarily used at Pyramid Lake.
After Marine 9 sank last May, Marine 10 moved to Lake Tahoe to replace it.
However, Marine 10 also sank in July 2014. The exact cause of that incident is under investigation, although officials previously said foul play isn’t suspected.
Marine 10’s damage wasn’t as extensive, Clark said, and Washoe County staff is finalizing repairs so it may return to Pyramid Lake or Lake Tahoe this spring.
A total cost estimate on repairs wasn’t known as of Wednesday.
Both boats were moored at a buoy privately owned by the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.
Considering two boats responsible for public safety sank in a span of two months, Clark said upgraded safety measures and an early warning system are being installed on the new Marine 9.
“We have not had that discussion yet with the Hyatt,” added Clark, when asked what WCSO plans to do to ensure the boat doesn’t sink again. “But now that it’s official that we are getting this boat, we will certainly be having that conversation to see if that buoy is still available.”
Further, the sheriff’s office remains “hopeful for some type of emergency services partnership to have a public safety pier,” Clark said.
“Whether that’s at Ski Beach or a private dock, we’re certainly open to suggestions,” Clark said.
While officials for years have floated the idea of a new pier in Incline Village for emergency boats, it’s doubtful anything will develop soon, considering ongoing issues with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s shorezone laws, which were vacated in 2010 after a legal challenge.
TRPA is operating under interim 1987 rules, which allow no new piers and set the guidelines for the repair, reconstruction, modification or extension of existing piers that do not cause additional boating capacity.