A few days ago I had the opportunity to go for a cruise in a Beau Lake electric boat – the Tahoe 14. What a delightful experience.
The design and craftsmanship are exceptional, and the attention to detail is evident in every aspect. Which comes as no surprise when you find out that Beau Lake was founded by Lee Kline and Paul Lavoie, each of whom built highly successful international careers in design and brand-building for such clients as Chanel, Dior, Four Seasons Hotels, BMW Mini and Nike.
They had the idea of building a luxury paddleboat that would give discerning people an option other than the brightly coloured plastic models everywhere.
Extension of the Beau Lake luxury paddleboat
While neither of them had specific boat building experience, they knew they wanted an equally accomplished nautical designer to help realize their vision and contacted Steve Killing, who has put applied his talents to everything from exquisite cedar strip canoes and kayaks to classic wooden barrelback racers to New Zealand America’s Cup entries.
The electric Tahoe is actually an extension of that luxury paddleboat the team put together in 2018 (which received rave reviews from publications as diverse as Treehugger and The Robb Report). While there were always plans to make an electric version available ‘sometime’, the crew decided to jump on it in late 2018 for release in early January of 2019.
“We knew what we wanted, but you still have to prove the concept” said Lee as he talked about testing the prototype of the electric version.
They had modified one of their paddleboats to accept an electric motor and they tested it on a cold October day in Ontario, Canada using a lead acid battery with a folded up blanket underneath perched on the craft’s glistening varnished bow . “It had some moments, that’s for sure” he laughed “but we looked at each other and said ‘it’s going to work’ and went full out over the next couple of months”.
The decision was made that a Torqeedo Cruse 2.0 would be the best option for powering the production model of the Tahoe 14 and work began on building Number One. It was taken to Florida for the Miami Boat Show and snapped up by a client from Dubai, so the Beau Lakers knew they were on to something.
We went out in the latest boat from the production run on a beautiful summer day in Toronto. The night before there had been a charity auction at the yacht club where the classic look and silent motor of the boat had stolen the show and it was still the talk of the club when I arrived the next day.
Design and details make heads turn
Killing and Kline designed the boat with an eye to combining the elegance of European yachts like the Rivas of the 1930s with the North American lines of Chris Craft runabouts. It is a look that literally makes heads turn. Each time the Tahoe arrived back at the dock to take out another intrigued boater, people would gather around to take a look.
Up close you can appreciate the inlaid mahogany veneer deck and luxury details like a hand-carved mahogany tiller and joystick and removable two-compartment cooler and charcuterie board.
So what is it like to ride in the Tahoe 14? The video can give you an idea of how enjoyable it is to travel along in almost complete silence and also the smooth handling from the carved tiller controlled by the driver’s forearm.
She is not made for high speeds, but for leisurely evening cruises with some hors d’ouvres, chilled drinks and the enjoyment of a quiet conversation without having to shout over a motor (and having everyone on the lake hear your thoughts!). It would also make the perfect tender for transportation to and from a yacht for guests or the owners.
Less than a year after that first prototype test, Beau Lake is in full production mode for both the Tahoe and the Laguna model (identical but with a fibreglass bow deck instead of polished mahogany). You can get the full specs for both on the Beau Lake website.
And of course, if you are thinking a sunset or evening champagne cruise is up your alley, you’ll want to check out the luxury package with extras like bluetooth speakers and LED accent lighting in the cockpit and underwater.