By Tim Hauserman
The Tahoe Gal
While pondering the beauty of Lake Tahoe from the shoreline is certainly a visual feast, to really appreciate our big patch of blue heaven you need to get out on the lake. There is nothing quite like having all that crystal clear water beneath you.
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways of getting out there is by hopping on board the “
“Tahoe Gal,” the 64-foot-long riverboat-style craft harbored in Tahoe City. Whether you are hanging out on the open deck on a sunny afternoon gazing into the deep canyons of the West Shore, or huddling inside and watching the lights along the shoreline on a chilly evening, the “Tahoe Gal” gives you an experience that you just can’t get on land. And, you don’t have to rent, drive, or most challenging for some, dock your own boat.
I recently boarded the “Tahoe Gal” for the 3½-hour lunch cruise to Emerald Bay. Once onboard, I found two primary seating areas – one inside and one outside on the top deck. There also is plenty of deck space to wander around and take in the views in all directions. I gravitated toward the upper deck to experience the sun and breeze, but later when it got a bit colder, the inside was tempting to many of the guests. The lunch menu includes a hamburger, several salads and wraps, a Portobello mushroom sandwich, Prime Rib sandwich, chicken sandwich and pulled pork sandwich. They have a full complement of cocktails, beer and wine, as well. Most of the lunch entrees were between $12 and $15.
Once pleasantly fed, I could enjoy the views. While the lake was calm when we climbed on board, the wind quickly picked up and soon the sparkling blue water was spiced with white caps. But the “Gal,” hardly seemed to notice the waves, riding along smoothly, and the wind heightened the brilliance of the colors. We first cruised past Ward and Blackwood Canyons, which seem deeper and more dramatic from the water. Then, the captain approached the shore near Sugar Pine Point State Park to check out the Ehrman Mansion and the breathtaking beauty of the confluence of the emerald green and dark blue waters just off shore.
Soon, we were watching hikers traversing the cliff edge on the Rubicon Trail between Bliss and Emerald Bay State Parks, before entering Emerald Bay itself to check out Vikingsholm Castle and Fannette Island. Entertaining commentary, loaded with history and interesting Tahoe tidbits, was provided by the captain along the way.
Having spent my life at Tahoe, you might assume that I would not be overly excited about spending three hours cruising from Tahoe City to Emerald Bay, but you would be wrong. Being on a boat in the middle of Lake Tahoe is always magnificent no matter how many times you do it. If you haven’t been on the water lately, you should get yourself out there. And, if you have never been on Lake Tahoe, it certainly should be on your bucket list.
“The Tahoe Gal,” and North Tahoe Cruises, is owned and operated by long-time Tahoe locals Larry and Cheryl Boerner. Larry moved to Tahoe in 1978, and worked in the restaurant business in various capacities until 1999. He then spent a year managing the “Tahoe Gal” before joining with partners to purchase the boat in 2000. In 2004, the Boerner’s became the sole owners. While keeping a tour boat financially afloat is a challenge, Larry says that they are compensated by being surrounded by happy people who have discovered that “there is no better way to see Lake Tahoe then to be on Lake Tahoe.”
The “Tahoe Gal” operation is a family affair. Larry can usually be found on the boat. Cheryl is in the office or preparing appetizers for special cruises, and their two sons, now in their early 20s, have worked on the boat in every capacity. The day I joined the cruise their son, Jordan, was the cruise photographer.
The Scoop on Cruises
The “Tahoe Gal” runs four daily cruises from now until the fall:
The Shoreline brunch cruise is a 1½-hour trip past the old Kaiser Estate, where the movie “Godfather Two” was filmed (and Fredo met his maker). The cost is $35 plus food. The brunch menu includes scrambled eggs with bacon potatoes and Texas Toast.
The Emerald Bay 3½-hour cruise is described above. The cost is $42 plus food.
The Happy Hour cruise is for a 1½ hours and heads along the North Shore. A variety of discounted appetizers, drinks, beer and wine are served. The cost is $20 plus food at happy hour prices.
Sunset Dinner Cruise is 2½ hours. If you have never seen a Tahoe sunset or Alpenglow display on the water of Lake Tahoe, you have to try this cruise. The dinner menu includes prime rib, salmon, chicken, pizza, vegetarian dishes and several other offerings. The cost is $40 plus food.
The “Tahoe Gal” also heads out on a variety of special cruises on different days of the week, including the Sunday Live Music and Dance cruise, Full Moon Cruises, and a popular Monday night Magician cruise.
The “Tahoe Gal” is available for groups, special meetings and weddings, and the Boerner’s are a civic-minded family that frequently provides the “Gal” for fundraising efforts.
For information on all the “Tahoe Gal” cruises, visit tahoegal.com or call (800) 218-2464 or (530) 583-0141. Cruises depart from the pier below the Lighthouse Shopping Center, on the Lakeside Trail, at 952 North Lake Blvd., in Tahoe City.