Tahoe Queen Removed From Sandbar

UPDATE: According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the boat was removed from the sandbar around 6:15PM Tuesday. It was moved back to its dock.

When it first ran aground, Coast Guard divers surveyed the bottom of the boat. The area that ran aground is called the "ground reaction." 25% of the boat was stuck. The Guard used a mathematical calculation to calculate the horsepower needed to pull it from the ground. Based on the way it was sitting, they determined 4 tow boats would be sufficient to pull it off.

It's not clear when the boat will start traveling with passengers again.

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TAHOE KEYS, CA - The Tahoe Queen was barely a half hour into its afternoon cruise Monday when suddenly everything stopped.

"I'd call it more of a ker-chunk," remembers Katrina Kaiser, who was onboard. "t didn't feel like a big impact. It didn't throw anyone forward. It was just sliding onto some sediment there."

That's exactly what it was doing.

The Queen draws 6 and a half feet of water. The shoals it was crossing were 4 to 6 feet deep.

As the passengers sat, the captain tried to budge it off the sand. After more than an hour of trying, he gave up and called for help.

Then he turned again to his passengers.

"The captain told us to get in our life vests."

That's an announcement that's usually guaranteed to raise concerns.

"A few people who did said 'Oh, okay. this is kind of scary," says KaIser. "Others were laughing about it saying 'Hey, lets take some pictures and selfies."

Boats arrived to help, but the decision was made to wait for the Coast Guard.

It was 6PM before the last passenger was safely ashore.

"I mean we probably just could have jumped over the side and walked to shore. It was pretty shallow there, but I really do have to thank them for doing that for us."

Now the task is finding out why and how this happened and to come up with a plan to ease the Queen into deeper waters.

She appears to be undamaged and is not taking on any water. Coast Guard investigators want to keep it that way and they'll take as much time as they need.

In the meantime, even stuck on a sand bar, the Tahoe Queen remains an attraction, though not in a way her operators intended.

Even in Tuesday's cool rainy weather, the curious turned out to take a look, some even wading a good distance toward her, their knees barely wet hundreds of yards off shore.

Aquatic looky-loos are another matter.

"We're asking the boating public to keep their distance," says Lt. J.G. Sean Kelly of the Coast Guard. "We'd like a wide berth so our salvage divers and our investigation and inspection team can do their duties safely."

Tourists like Katrina Kaiser will take an unexpected memory home.

"I'm thankful nothing bad happened, but this is one heck of an experience. It's definitely an adventure to talk about."


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