LAKE NORMAN, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS ) — It’s finally summer (unofficially), and many of us can’t wait to get out on the lake. 

The problem is, most folks don’t have a boat. And probably don’t have friends that have a boat. 

So, what do we do? We rent a boat and a captain.  

But how do we know if the operation is legitimate – and more importantly, safe?  

Martin Cagle is the owner of Ride LKN Wake and Surf in Mooresville. He urges lake-goers to make sure they have a licensed U.S. Coast Guard Captain.  

“You’re entrusting the captain with your lives,” Cagle said. “You wouldn’t want someone flying a plane that’s not a pilot. You need a U.S. Coast Guard Captain onboard and an inspected, well-maintained boat to keep you safe.”   

Martin is a licensed Master U.S. Coast Guard Captain. He has completed rigorous training and operates the highest-rated boating experience on the lake.  

“There’s just nothing like it,” Cagle said. “We get to teach people and share the joy of being on the lake giving them an easy day where they don’t worry about anything other than fun and memories.” 

This is his fifth year in business on Lake Norman. 

“Personally, I’ve been wake surfing and boarding for 15 years,” Cagle said. “For us, we love being on the water, getting to enjoy these beautiful boats, and the stoke of surfing and wakeboarding. 

“We are a Mastercraft Experience company and one of the only a handful of these in the world, so to have one here at Lake Norman is really special.” 

A Ride LKN Wake and Surf customer gets instructions from Martin Cagle.

Not all rental boats on Lake Norman look like Martin’s luxury power boats. Not all captains are licensed. And not all boats are inspected for safety.  

“You want to make sure you rent from a reputable source,” Cagle said. “You want to make sure the boats have all life jackets and safety equipment that are needed. 

“We cater to anyone; we have kids 4 years old that we’ve taught, to grandmother’s and grandfathers in their 70s that have learned to surf and wakeboard and even if they just want to go for a cruise around the lake.  

He continued: “We teach wakeboarding and surfing lessons, run private watersports charters for anyone who want to come out and do as little or a much as you want.”  

Lake Norman is the largest man-made body of fresh water in North Carolina. Summer sees a hotbed of beginner boaters, and boozers, and non-licensed boat owners renting rides in vessels that lack permits and safety inspections. To avoid falling prey to a non-legit “Billy Bob’s Beer Boat”-type experience, authorities urge you to use caution.    

Iredell Sheriff’s Lake Patrol Deputy Ethan Johnson warns:  

“If you don’t use a licensed captain, you may be at risk. They are not properly trained and may not be able to help with CPR or any passenger emergency.” 

Cagle welcomes folks to join him on the lake. 

“This is an incredible experience and we’ve got a great crew that will help you with a fun and memorable day,” he said. 

You can hire Cagle, his crew and powerboats from LKN Wake and Surf by the hour for $250. Half- and full-day charters are also available.