Boat camping on Tahoe: A floating pleasure |

Boat camping on Tahoe: A floating pleasure

Joanna Hartman/Sierra SunGorgeous sunsets like this one from the East Shore of Tahoe are reason enough to go boat camping.

Many people take the time to ease their boats into the cool blue water of Lake Tahoe only to putt around the lake for a day, do some water skiing and maybe even cruise over to Sunnyside for lunch before pulling it out again in the late afternoon.

What these folks don’t realize is that their craft potentially supplies easy access to some of the most beautiful and sought-after spots on the lake.

This is where a picnic dinner, bottle of wine, sleeping bag and someone to cuddle with under the stars comes in handy.

If you’ve got a day to explore and your boat has a birth or someplace to sleep for a night, use it. Cruise over to D.L. Bliss State Park, anchor and do some hiking or swimming. Make the trek to the East Shore’s secluded coves and sunbathe before the stunning Sierra stars come out.

Many of these places are crowded on land or inaccessible by car or even foot ” leaving a boat as the best, or only, way to check them out.

The whole point of boat camping is comfort. If you’re not going to be comfortable, you might as well just pack a tent into your chosen beach and do it the old-fashioned way. So take the time to plan out what you’ll want.

Bring enough food to stay happy. Dinner, a little breakfast and some snacks for the journey. Also bring something to drink. You can’t be three sheets to the wind while you’re sailing, but once you drop that anchor you can let your hair down a little. And don’t forget to bring water.

Make sure to plan out your sleeping; just because you’re in a cabin doesn’t mean you have a forced air gas heater ” so bring some blankets or a sleeping bag.

Depending on your level of comfort, an overnight trip might not be in the cards. Take into account the size of your boat as well as the amenities. Can you cook? Is there a head to go to the bathroom?

A small boat can be great if you plan accordingly. Motor right up to the beach and camp there. But beware that much of the East Shore does not allow camping. There are no rules about the water, so if your boat has a marine BBQ, head and place to sleep you can pretty much drop anchor anywhere you want.

The last step is to pick out a spot to go. The East Shore of Tahoe is full of hidden beaches and secluded coves. Beware that typically southwesterly winds cause waves to be biggest on the east side, so windy conditions will make anchoring tough in some spots. Find a protected cove or wait ” the wind dies in the evening, so timing can be everything.

On the West Shore, the cove off of D.L. Bliss State Park is one of the prettiest on the lake. If you drop anchor and row or swim to shore there is some good hiking as well.

The Emerald Bay State Park has a campground specifically for marine use. Twenty campsites on the north shore of the bay, each with a mooring buoy, allow boaters to either camp on land or stay on their boat. Sites are first come first serve and within hiking distance of Vikingsholm and just across the bay from an underwater dive park that features a sunken barge.

Another cool option is to drop an anchor off of Tahoe City’s Commons Beach on any Sunday afternoon starting June 24, have dinner while you listen to the concert that takes place each week and then cruise on down to D.L. Bliss or Sugar Pine Point state parks and drop anchor under the stars.

Remember that many boat accidents are caused by fire. Be careful when cooking or using an open flame and always keep a fire extinguisher on board ” it’s the law.

All boats are also required to have life jackets, including a type IV throwable PFD.

Keep an eye on your anchor ” after you set the anchor, watch your surroundings for a while to make sure you won’t drift out during the night.

If you do anchor or tie up to a strange buoy, leave a running light on throughout the night so other boaters can see you.

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