Tahoe Country's Wooden Boat Showcase


COMET was three years old when the Ehrmans took delivery on a mahogany runabout which was to be the toy of Miss Esther Ehrman. While the family sedan was well-suited to meeting the train at the Tahoe City railhead, a runabout was required for skimming across the waves with the wind in one's hair, and to compete in the regattas of the newly-formed Lake Tahoe Powerboat Club.

The new boat, which Miss Ehrman named CHEROKEE, was a product of the Belle Isle Boat Company in Detroit. She was the 25'10" Bearcat model, powered by a Hall-Scott LM-6A engine. Herb Haley, who for many years served as the EhrmanÕs resident Hall-Scott mechanic, kept the engines of both CHEROKEE and COMET in optimum running condition. In later years, the Hall-Scott from A.K. Bourne's Luders cruiser REVERIE was installed as a replacement engine in CHEROKEE, the original powerplant having worn out.

It was perhaps the influence of the Hall-Scott Engine Company which brought three other Bearcats to Tahoe. These were Lee Scott's MOHAWK and Herbert Fleishhacker's WASHOE, both rated at 250 hp, and Miss Heller's SIOUX, an annual entry in the 125-150 hp race. Unfortunately, of this promising group, none is known to survive today but CHEROKEE.

Miss Ehrman, who married Claude Lazard in 1931, liked competing in the annual regattas of the Lake Tahoe Power Boat Club. Over the next decade, she would bring home enough trophies to put a strain on any mantelpiece. In fact, from the time of the boat's delivery through the outbreak of the Second World War - a span of over 15 seasons - CHEROKEE had the distinction of having been entered in every regatta held at the Lake.

When the Ehrman family sold their Tahoe property to the State of California in 1965, the contents of the buildings were auctioned off, including the family boats. Since that time, CHEROKEE has had several owners, among them Gordon Hooper, Dick Clarke and Larry and Sue Metcalf. Donated to the State of California by Mrs. Metcalf, the boat has now come full-circle, returning to her native boathouse to serve as its perfect centerpiece.

Story by Carol Van Etten
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