After owning Duffy electric boats in Newport Beach, California, where the company has its headquarters, the Textor family decided to introduce the fun-filled and stress-free world of electric boating to Lake Norman in 2010. Thanks to the electric motor and patented Power Rudder propulsion device, Duffy boats carry passengers over water with a remarkable speed and maneuverability and cost as little as $1 per day to maintain. Since 1970, Duffy shipwrights have constructed each vessel exactly to the client's specifications, outfitting crafts with Duff-Eze cabin enclosures that allow captains to pilot their ship in any climate and ensure that boats never have to be winterized, covered, or sent to Florida because of cold weather.
Customers can rent out 21-foot Avalon models that carry 10–12 passengers for brief lakefront voyages, dancing to tunes from the onboard mp3 and CD hookups, warming themselves with the heater on chilly nights, and sunbathing on the bow. Specialty cruises entertain guests with floating wine tastings, catered feasts from Lake Norman cottage, and movie nights, and a seasonal schedule of special events dazzles families with upcoming attractions such as electric-boat sleigh rides.
Dustin Keith, a former paratrooper, police officer, and Learjet pilot, says that his favorite job has been owning and operating his boat-rental business with his wife, Andrea. Keith has loved water sports since he was young and wanted to open the business to help families build their own memories on the water. The Keiths maintain a consistently updated inventory of luxury pontoon boats, kayaks, bowriders, and cabin cruisers, and the low deposits they require for rental are returned to customers the same day. Boat-club memberships give customers unlimited access to the boats without the expense of buying and storing them or setting up mermaid traps along the shore.
The Keiths donate a portion of the profits from boat rentals to Compassion International to support impoverished children in Asia and Africa, and they hope to one day dedicate each boat to a child that its rental helps support.
Students at The Rock MMA & Fitness Center get the chance to learn from and train with an undefeated professional boxer, a 10-year jujitsu veteran, and a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter. All accolades just happen to belong to one man, Coach Matt. Joined by wrestling veteran Coach Brian and a team of qualified instructors, Matt teaches a full week of martial-arts classes, such as kickboxing, jujitsu, boxing, and mixed martial arts. He rounds out the schedule with conditioning and fitness-focused training, including a boot camp and hours set aside for open use of any of the gym's equipment.
For years, Captain Sonny Kay plied the waters of the Caribbean in his yacht, the Saltshaker. Then, in 1983, he headed north to Lake Norman to share the joy of boating with others. Over the years, he amassed a fleet of other watercraft, and though he's since retired, Brian and Nichole MacArthur carry on his legacy today at Saltshaker Marine. Depending on the type of aquatic adventure folks are looking for, the duo puts together custom rental packages for pontoons and wave-runners.
River and Earth Adventures stands out from other wilderness outfitters by being completely operated by their own guides. Their fleet of seasoned cave, mountain, and water-navigating guides work in tandem with professional ecologists and geologists, focusing Blue Ridge Mountains excursions on environmental education as well as adventure. During all day trips, guides divulge area history and expound on forest and river ecosystems as well as geology in caves whose interiors rest at 60 degrees year-round to keep them free of snowman hermits.
Each trip also immerses adventurers in athletic activity, whether on hikes to summits and secluded waterfalls, spelunking through electricity-free cave tunnels, or rafting and kayaking down the Watauga River rapids. For those in search of extended excursions, guides lead children's adventure day camps and combination trips that further an environmental focus and bottle-cap collections through river cleanup projects.
With years and years of experience navigating the river's rapids, the Thomas family has some strong opinions about which watercraft provide the best experience. When they first got started, they weren't able to find any with all the features they wanted, so they decided to design their own. Paddle Inn's signature rafts were created specifically for riding the Nantahala River, and they boast a number of features intended to provide the optimal experience, including urethane undersides, which allow the rafts to easily slide over the occasional rock or kraken.
The rafts transports patrons down the river on guided trips and self-guided excursions aboard rafts in multiple sizes, as well as inflatable kayaks. These vessels can accommodate couples all the way up to groups of eight. After a trip, river trekkers can dry off by perching next to a crackling fire or spinning around in a circle really fast.