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Sunken $3.2-million yacht could take days to lift from Lake Tahoe

July 11, 2012 | 10:44 am

How do you lift a three-story, $3.2-million luxury yacht off the bottom of Lake Tahoe? The owners of the Sierra Rose are still trying to figure that one out.

The 86-foot yacht — outfitted with granite fireplaces, a Jacuzzi and a deck that doubles as a helicopter landing pad — remained partially submerged Wednesday morning near the Tahoe Keys Marina, where it settled to the bottom of the lake two days ago.

It's up to the owners of the boat to remove the yacht, but El Dorado County Environmental Health Manager Barbara Houghton said that has proved to be a little more difficult than anticipated.

"It's probably going to take a couple days. It's a really large vessel," she told The Times on Wednesday morning. "Yesterday, they were trying to get a crane up there, but they don't know if one crane is going to be enough."

Houghton's agency is continuing to monitor the ship. She said Wednesday the boat had been sealed and there were no signs any fuel or sewage had leaked.

The manager of the company that owns the boat, Sierra Rose LLC, did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.

It was still unclear what caused the vessel to sink; it settled at the bottom of the lake Monday morning. Witnesses told the Tahoe Daily Tribune they heard sounds of tearing metal late Sunday evening when the boat was at the dock.

The size of the Sierra Rose has kept it from going completely under. The waterline reaches only halfway up the yacht’s second level. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, a big-screen TV, leather couches and floating slices of bread could be seen inside.

Before it sank, the yacht could be rented at rates of $2,000 a night, according to its website.

One resident said he wouldn’t necessarily be sad to see the Sierra Rose go. Ron Parker, a clerk at the Tahoe Keys Property Assn., told The Times the boat looked like a "town home on a barge."

“I always thought it was ugly,” Parker said. “It was just huge and hideous.”

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— Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

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