Tahoe Princess extraction causes oil leak

The Tahoe Princess hit a snag April 10 will being pulled out of the water at Tahoe Keys. Photo/Kathryn Reed

The Tahoe Princess hit a snag April 10 will being pulled out of the water at Tahoe Keys. Sand covers the spill area. Photo/Kathryn Reed

By Kathryn Reed

The Tahoe Princess looked like anything but royalty as it sat Friday afternoon on the Tahoe Keys Marina boat ramp.

“A hydraulic line busted when we pulled it,” Vincent Vernaza told Lake Tahoe News.

Vernaza recently purchased the pontoon tour boat from Aramark. His plans are to overhaul the vessel and return it to its glory days. To do so it had to be pulled from the water.

One semi-truck was on either pontoon, dragging the boat onto pipes. With the boat just barely out of the water, one of the hydraulic lines on a tow vehicle busted.

Operations stopped so officials could assess the situation.

El Dorado County environmental health and South Lake Tahoe firefighters responded to the hazardous waste spill. The county inspector ensured all the oil was cleaned up, asking for a receipt once it was disposed of and said a fine could be forthcoming. The California Office of Emergency Services also must be notified.

While a boom was placed about a dozen feet from the water line into the marina, no oil is believed to have made it into Lake Tahoe. An absorbent sand-like substance was placed onto all areas of the parking lot where the oil leaked. It will be secured and hauled to a hazardous waste facility in Nevada.

The goal April 10 was to use the pipes as rollers to move the nearly 60-ton boat to a storage area at the marina. It had to be done this way because trailers don’t exist for this type of watercraft. Vernaza expects to spend the next six months refurbishing the Tahoe Princess. It was beaten up during the winter when it broke from its mooring at Zephyr Cove and was banging against the rocks. A sundeck platform will be added to the top. Vernaza said it would be nicer, newer and modern when the overhaul is done.


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Comments (10)
  1. Dogula says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    Nice. An accident happens, so they follow proper procedure, notify the authorities, and they’re threatened with a fine for doing so. I’ll remember that next time I have an accident. I’ll clean it up myself and I sure as heck won’t tell anybody about it.
    What a bull$#!t system. You ought to encourage people to do the right thing, not DISCOURAGE them.

  2. Biggerpicture says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    So Dogula, by your logic should British Petroleum get a pass on the oil spill that ensued when the Deepwater Horizon blew up? They notified officials of the tragedy as well, and it was an accident.

  3. Bob Fleischer says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    re: BP
    …. it was NOT an accident. Officials, and rig folks, all knew that they were doing things in a very dangerous manner. They had even been warned by people in their own company.
    Quite a few folks at BP had their hands in the ‘we can get away with it’…

    In the case of the broken hydraulic lines on the tow truck, one might ask if the lines were overloaded in hauling that heavy boat; or, if the lines were old, or had been previously damaged, or how they managed to get broken, etc. We don’t know….nothing in the story had details about it.

  4. Dogula says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    The BP spill caused damage to the shrimp and fishing industries, as well as massive cleanup costs along the coast. People lost income because of it. There was injury that needed compensation.
    There’s been no injury to anyone here.

  5. Capt. Steve says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    First of all the proper way of removing the Tahoe Princes would be to use a crane, not the winch from a container truck.

    Cranes have been used for years to remove large vessels in the Marina. Since the Marina doesn’t own a crane they probably made the owner of the boat use this method so they could make more $$$.

    As far as the spill goes it wouldn’t have happened if the proper method was used.

    The Tahoe Keys Marina (Robert Spinnato GM) has an ongoing problem with environmental issues. The list is long (sewage spills, fuel spills & trespassing onto Conservancy property). The fines that they have been assessed don’t seem to have an impact on them.

  6. nature bats last says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    BOAT=Break Out Another Thousand.

  7. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    Several comments on this article:

    Do you think we could learn to use “the hose BROKE” instead of “the hose Busted”?

    All hydraulic equipment is going to leak at some point.
    Even rebuilding it prior to every use will not result in perfection.

    It does seem that this was clearly an accident, no oil reached the lake and the spill was minor in gallons.
    It is possible that the total gallons involved did not exceed the legal amount requiring a report to agencies.

    It could be argued all day whether the hydraulic hoses, connections or pipes were in adequate condition for the job and no matter how that determination came out, it would still turn out to be an unpredictable event.

    Capt Steve-

    Just because this happened in the Keys Marina does not mean it was flawed from the beginning.

    Regarding methodology, I submit that it is safer to use rollers if possible to move a 120,000 pound load of the dimensions of this Catamaran as opposed to swinging it from a crane. Have you ever seen house movers use a crane? (Rarely if ever) They jack the house up, but it on wheels or rollers and tow it.

  8. greengrass says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    “BOAT=Break Out Another Thousand.” Buddy, you are hilarious. Made my day. So true though, boats cost a ton of money to maintain, store, and use.

  9. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: April 11, 2015

    The Tahoe Princess, Another large Tahoe boat in for a major makeover. Seems like a trend!
    Yes,operating any boat is costly, no matter the size. I know this from my own hands on(and out of wallet expences) time with boats over the years.
    I wish Mr.Vermaza the best of luck with his new boat purchase and gets er’ back on the lake as quickly as possible. Good luck Vincent Vermaza!OLS

  10. Lcapitan says - Posted: April 12, 2015

    Wow some people just do not have anything better to do than to spend their day looking for anything to get their name out there. Regardless of how the princess should have or could have been pulled out the safest? There was a minor oil spill agencies were called report was made OK who cares next headline