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Dreamboat living aboard a 395 SUV on Lake Tahoe

by Riviera Australia 14 Feb 11:02 PST

Lake living has never been so good for Craig and Betty Lazzareschi. The two have enjoyed summertime boating on Lake Tahoe for 20 years, but never have they enjoyed it quite as much as now with the luxury and spaciousness afforded by their Riviera 395 SUV, Mi Maribe.

Two years ago, the northern Californians decided in favour of a Rivera over the combination of having a smaller holiday house and a runabout.

"It was a big decision for us; we'd never had a boat this large," says Craig. "We were intuitive; the two of us went with our gut. We went for a test drive on a Riviera 3600 and loved it; it was really well built."

"All the boaters we talked to said Riviera was the best, top of class. So, one Sunday after church when our friends weren't available for our usual lunch, we went out and bought a 395 SUV!"

"Our boat broker, Richard Boland (Richard Boland Yacht Sales located in San Francisco) was with us every step of the way. We have never had service of this magnitude from any company. He has become more than a broker to us. He is our friend and our 'go to yacht professional'."

When Mi Maribe arrived in April 2020, Richard provided the couple with 12 hours of on-water-instruction, as well as several hours of electronics instruction.

The Lazzareschis then spent the spring of 2020 in the San Francisco Bay area familiarising themselves with the new SUV - grateful to have a good reason to get out of the house during the pandemic.

"It was a lifesaver," says Craig. "We spent a lot of time on the Bay on day trips with friends, barbecuing in Bay inlets since all the restaurants were shut down."

"Then we transported the boat to Lake Tahoe in July and spent three lovely summer months on the lake. We usually anchored off a quiet beach for two or three nights, only coming back to our slip to provision. What a wonderful summer on the water with friends and family!"

In the Sierra Nevada and wedged between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America lying at an altitude of nearly 1,900 metres (6,237 feet) and covering some 496 square kilometres (191 square miles). It's also one of the deepest lakes at around 500 metres (1,645 feet), a depth which is variable depending on annual snowfalls and droughts.

Enormous snowfalls mean the 395 SUV is pulled out of the water in winter. In summer, Craig and Betty can access all parts of the lake except for some southern areas where it's occasionally too shallow.

"There are rock outcroppings and when the water is low you have to be really careful," says Betty. "I swim around here a lot, so I know where some of the rocks are and we use the depth finder and the navigational maps on the screens to guide us. Lake boating is pretty fantastic, it's so beautiful."

Lake Tahoe's panoramic views are easily admired in Mi Maribe's open cockpit or through her sliding saloon windows.

"The cockpit area is super; it has an icemaker, two fold-out seats, a fixed table and lounge, and we love the cup holders," says Betty. "We spend most of our time out there, and with the rear door and the galley rear window open, along with the side sliding windows, the saloon feels really open too - there's so much air."

As with any large body of water, where there's wind, there are waves. "We get rough weather and sometimes we've seen people surfing in the fall," says Betty.

The prevailing winds are from the south-west and the couple's marina berth is situated on the mid-western part of Lake Tahoe. "That's the calmest area of water," says Craig. "The west shore is deeper too, but what happens in the fall is that the wind shifts to go prevailing east to west, and it's not unusual to have wave heights of between one to three feet."

At the helm, Craig loves the electronics and the joystick. "We have a joystick at the helm and in the cockpit and it's been remarkable for us - you can turn on a dime," he says. "It's easier too for me to drive than our previous 28-foot boat. We have three screens for navigation and engine diagnostics, and I like to switch one of them on to camera to the engine room or the back of the boat when we're pulling the dinghy along. It's great to have that peace of mind."

"Another thing that's been really interesting for us is that, at our age, we're not as spry as we once were. When we're boating, we're always doing something; we're up and down, really active, and it's comfortable to live like this on this boat. When Betty was recovering from a broken ankle, she did just fine because there's always something to hold on to, and we had extra handrails fitted along the side decks. Richard recommended that."

Add 'superbly comfortable mattresses', good storage, a luxurious ensuite, a saltwater-cum-freshwater pump to easily wash the boat down, and a faultless anchoring system, and Craig and Betty are pleased as punch.

"Everything seems to make a lot of sense. It's all of the little things that are really cool and thoughtfully designed."

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