The boat comes out of the water today, but the deputies who manned it marked the end of their patrol after Labor Day weekend. Douglas County Sheriff's Deputies Jim Hill and Wes Rice said while the roads of Tahoe may have been packed this summer the waterways were not.
"This whole season was a real surprise," Hill said. "My partner who has been on the lake eight seasons said it was the slowest season yet."
The reason Hill believes was information or misinformation about the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's watercraft restrictions.
"We had people who believed that all jet skis and ski-doos were banned, and that all boats with carburetors were banned. The personal watercraft were virtually non-existent except for rental units. During the whole season we saw only eight personal watercraft that weren't rentals. The rentals, of course, were all legal. The mooring fields just never got full," Hill said.
The boat patrol started their season Memorial Day weekend on a boat equipped with the TRPA required four-stroke engines. Sheriff's Sgt. Lance Modispacher said the department was reimbursed for the upgrade through grants.
Hill, who spent 29 years in law enforcement in Southern California before retiring to Douglas County, said he has fallen in love with the lake. Hill and Rice, who also retired from another department, work as contract deputy sheriffs during the summer. Hill said most of the boat patrols around the lake are made up of retired officers.
"We're thinking of forming a coalition that says Keep Tahoe Gray," he joked.
Douglas County Sheriff's Boat Patrol
Summer 1999 Wrap-up
Law enforcement boarding (officers contacted a boater and inspected safety equipment) - 143
Boaters assists (officers assisted stranded watercraft) - 23
Boating accidents - 6
Recovering stolen boats - 1
Battery arrests involving people using the beaches or waterways - 2