Thursday, August 23, 2012

Still in USA! Lake Tahoe–Bliss/Rubicon Point Boat Camping

DSC07989 (2)
I got my love of sailing
from my dad.

Now updated with photo albums.

I thought, as some of you probably did, that I would be back in Abu Dhabi with Mark by now. Well, it was not meant to be. Instead, I am in Michigan helping my dad cope with the inevitable aging process. For him, the issue is his lungs. It’s a story that many people know very well, but it’s not the story I am telling today. That story can wait; it’s still unfolding.

Instead, I am sharing my wonderful last week in Nevada and California. Here is the boat camping story.

Tahoe Boat Camping 003
Jamie is a native of Tahoe.

Mark’s and my friends Jim and Jamie Casey own the beautiful J124 sailboat Pleiades, which they sail on Lake Tahoe. I have known and raced with them for 10 years now, since they owned their J109 Ice Nine.

Tahoe Boat Camping 004
Laura (r) and new crew member Lynn (l)
work the front of the boat.

Each summer Jamie organizes a girls-only boat camping trip on Lake Tahoe. We head out Friday afternoon, anchor for two nights, and sail home to Tahoe City Sunday afternoon. Depending on the conditions, we may stay on the wooded California west shore beaches, or head across the lake to the more rugged, boulder strewn but breathtakingly beautiful Nevada east shore.

Tahoe Boat Camping 014
A SUP. Yes!

This year, we had six women between the ages of 40 and 60 (roughly) and all very fit. Boarding the boat, I was so happy to see a stand up paddle board lashed to the lifeline! It belongs to Lynn who, like me, is enthusiastic but relatively new to stand up paddle boarding. We also had Jamie’s inflatable kayak. It took a long time to unload and store the provisions: lots of fresh salads and fruit, yogurt, nuts, tea and white wine. I love sailing with the girls!

Tahoe Boat Camping 025
Tahoe water is crystal clear.

We cast off the mooring ball in front of Tahoe State Park, and had a beautiful sail to Rubicon Bay on the west shore. We anchored off the beach at Bliss State Park next to Rubicon Point, close enough to swim to shore. The question was, how cold is the water??

Lake Tahoe

Here’s a little background information about Lake Tahoe, for those who are not familiar. Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains located along the border between California and Nevada. It’s the largest alpine lake in North America, and the second deepest, after Crater Lake in Oregon. The lake’s surface elevation is 6225 ft. and its depth is 1645 ft. Lake Tahoe is known for two things: its clarity, and its icy water temperature. Its sources are rainfall and snowmelt streams. Many people have died diving into the lake on a hot summer day. Why? Because while the surface water may warm to 68F, it averages a chilly 50F and below the surface the water is a heart-stopping 39F.
More information:

Tahoe Boat Camping 074
A few other sailboats camped overnight.

For just a few short weeks in summer, Lake Tahoe explodes with activity. The beach at Bliss State Park was filled with people and Rubicon Bay was crowded with boats coming and going. “Look at this!” the locals on the boat kept saying. They aren’t used to seeing so much activity on their lake. Most of the year, it’s just too cold except for the most hardy pleasure boaters and fishermen, and the locals don’t usually venture into the most crowded spots during peak season.

Tahoe Boat Camping 076
Early morning paddle.

I slept out on the foredeck both nights, watching the meteors shooting across the sky, waking up to the sun rising over the mountains. We took turns paddling early, before the water skiers churned up too many wakes. Some of the girls went hiking onshore, but I opted to stay on the water. I can put my feet on the dirt any time, but this was a special treat to paddle and swim in Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Boat Camping 020
I never got tired of looking at Rubicon Point.

Both Saturday and Sunday, the southeastern sky filled with warm weather thunderhead clouds, looming over the mountains and spreading toward us, but they never made it overhead. WE could see rain in the distance but it was probably virga which evaporates before it reaches the ground.

Tahoe Boat Camping 113
It doesn't get any better than this!

Sunday’s sail began with light winds, but by the time we neared Tahoe City it was a perfect beam reach home.

It's Jamie's boat, but she
lets Jim drive half the time.

The only thing missing was Jamie’s husband Jim. He couldn’t come camping because he’s a guy. He felt left out, but Jamie and I made it up to him Sunday night with a little pizza party, and Jim demonstrated his new skill: uncorking a bottle of wine using only one hand.

Tahoe Boat Camping 027

Thanks for reading, and watch for the photo albums.
More stories are on the way, inshallah.
Till then, take care of you and yours.