Lake Tahoe’s newest rescue boat, at a cool $275,000, hits the water
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — There’s that old saying, “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”
Two operators of Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s brand-new Marine 9 patrol boat are putting the phrase into practice.
“I love it,” said Deputy Noah Boyer while aboard the Titan T280 Pilot aluminum boat on Lake Tahoe Monday morning, a day before the new and improved Marine 9 was scheduled to be christened.
Boyer and fellow Marine 9 navigator and operator, WCSO deputy sheriff Michael J. Fox (no relation), said they’ve logged more than 20 training hours recently on the rescue vessel.
Though operating Marine 9 remains a job with a high level of responsibility, Fox and Boyer couldn’t be happier with their duty.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Fox said. “I’ve been on the water my whole life.”
Actually, scratch all of that, they said. They hate their jobs. In fact, they recommend anyone interested in a job that involves patrolling the Lake Tahoe region to stay away from boat patrol, what with its vibrantly clear blue waters, cool summer breezes and sunny day getaways.
“I tell everyone else on the force it’s the worst duty and don’t put in for it,” said Fox, his tongue firmly in cheek.
In addition to their full-time positions as street patrol officers, Fox and Boyer volunteer their time to operate the boat, Fox said.
Though they may not be financially compensated for their time aboard the vessel, Fox and Boyer are able to bank the extra duty, which they are reimbursed for in the form of extra hours off, Fox said.
At a cost of about $275,000, the 28-foot Titan is equipped with the latest in sonar, state-of-the-art GPS tracking technology and twin 300-horsepower Mercury outboard motors.
Fox said while he hasn’t yet had Marine 9 up to its full speed, he’s gotten to about 44 knots (approximately 50 mph) without any problems.
“It’s smooth through choppy waters,” Fox said. “You can have two- to three-foot whitecaps out there, and this thing just cuts through them.”
Funding came through multiple channels, including a $101,000 insurance payout the department received following the demise of its predecessor of the same name last year, said WCSO Lt. Jeff Clark.
The rest was paid through drug forfeiture funds, a move approved by the Washoe County Commission at the recommendation in 2014 of former Sheriff Mike Haley.
Marine 9 will join the rest of the WCSO water patrol fleet, which includes Marines 10 and 20, which are primarily used at Pyramid Lake.
While patrol duties will be Marine 9’s primary focus, the vessel will assist other agencies on Lake Tahoe, including the Nevada Department of Wildlife, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and U.S. Coast Guard, Fox said.
Another custom Titan T280 is already seeing service duty on Tahoe with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, which launched its own new custom-built boat in May.
FASTER, MORE POWERFUL
Marine 9’s launch comes just in time for Fourth of July weekend, a holiday that is sure to keep the pair of operators busy.
“We’re going to go along the way we were going when we got last year’s boat,” said Fox, referencing the 14-year-old Marine 9 that sank on Memorial Day 2014 while moored at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe buoy.
In May 2013, the old Marine 9 had been retrofitted with a pair of Evinrude outboards, costing the department $50,000, which came from federal drug forfeiture money. The retrofit improved the old boat’s speed and maneuverability, Fox said.
“(The new Marine 9) has a little more horsepower, it’s a little quicker…” Fox said. “We can get places quicker; we can respond better and be more proactive in general.”
Like the old Marine 9, 10 also sank in July 2014. The cause of that incident is still under investigation. Marine 10 has since returned to service, Clark said.
Like its predecessor and other Marine patrol boats, the new Marine 9 will continue to be moored at the Hyatt, Clark said.
Unlike the old Marine 9, however, the new craft is equipped with not one, not two, but three bilge pumps, Fox said, in case history should try to repeat itself.
Marine 9 is also equipped with a Siren Marine Pixie alert system, which notifies operators if the vessel is tampered with or is taking on water, Clark said.