A three-level, $3.25 million luxury yacht sank while tied to a Lake Tahoe dock early Monday morning.
As the sun rose, the Sierra Rose sat partially submerged at its prominent location near the mouth of the Tahoe Keys Marina. The lowest level of the 86-foot yacht was completely underwater, while the second level of the vessel was partially submerged.
The floating dock leading to the vessel jutted out of the water at a 45 degree angle. What caused the yacht to sink is unknown.
Phoenix resident Lynn Johnson said he was on the Sierra Rose Sunday evening.
The boat went to Emerald Bay carrying six passengers without incident Sunday, Johnson said.
Johnson said there were no issues or problems experienced during the Sunday excursion.
He said it was only after passengers woke up to standing water in their sleeping cabins that people on board realized something was wrong.
The boat started taking on water about 2:30 a.m. Monday. Passengers abandoned ship about 3:10 a.m. and the ship started going down about 3:30 a.m., Johnson said.
South Lake Tahoe police are investigating the incident, but have not determined a cause of the sinking, said Lt. David Stevenson.
"Nobody is going to know until they get it up and get it inspected," Johnson said.
Ship owner Mike Stewart was at the helm Sunday, Johnson said.
Water-quality regulators took a look at the area Monday and found no evidence of pollutants entering Lake Tahoe following the sinking.
As recently as 2006, the Sierra Rose was billed as the largest noncommercial boat on Lake Tahoe. The yacht sold at auction for $3.25 million in August 2008 to a bidder from Nevada.
The owner of the yacht could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
The 4,000-square-foot, handcrafted mahogany boat boasts three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, granite fireplaces, marble tile floors, an outdoor hot tub and a helicopter pad.
The yacht can hold about 100 guests in the summer months, according to a online 2008-09 rate sheet. Taking the Sierra Rose on the lake requires a licensed captain, according to the rate sheet.
The vessel is currently listed on the Sotheby's International Realty website. Renting the yacht costs $1,900 per night, according to the site.
The Sierra Rose was brought to Tahoe in three pieces and assembled on a barge at the Tahoe Keys Marina in the winter of 2005, according to a August 2006 Tribune article.
Crews were on scene Monday morning with a barge-mounted crane assessing the vessel.