On the shores of Lake Hartwell, Harbor Light Marina's fleet of 16 new boats waits to cut through the water. Strictly maintained fishing boats, deck boats, and pontoons ferry fishermen or parties into the lake's middle or around its 1,000-mile shoreline, acting as suitable bases for catching striped bass or honing a cannonball. Icons of leisure, the pontoons vary in size to fit each guest's needs, the largest checking in at 28 feet—long enough to fit 16 passengers or set up an eye chart to test the captain’s vision. And all the vessels park in the marina's slips, alongside spaces rented out to other local aquanauts.
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.
Brown Marine keeps fishers, recreationists, and aquaphobious goldfish afloat between the 649 miles of tree-lined shores that define Lake Murray. The team represents a culmination of more than 70 years of experience as an authorized dealer in Crestliner, Mercury, and Sea Boss watercraft, selling and repairing boats and setting guests sailing for themselves with pontoon rentals.
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.
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.
Every so often, people should get in touch with nature to trade addresses and catch up on major life developments. Today's Groupon gives you access to the birds, the bees, and the boats. For $65, you get a weekend night's stay in a cottage at Lake Norman (a $136 tax-included value), about 18 miles north of Charlotte. For $40, you can stay in the same cottage on a weeknight (an $82 tax-included value).