"Sink or swim - you never know until you try."
For years, this has been Michael Hasler's life motto as he perpetually has sought ways to fill unmet needs in the community.
Come this April, the Marion, Illinois, resident will put that motto to the test as he and wife Allison officially open Kentucky Lake Boat Charters, a "crewed" rental service to Kenlake Marina in Hardin.
Growing up, Hasler always had a love of the water. But it wasn't until he purchased his first boat around the age of 21 that he realized what others may deem a hobby held much greater meaning for him.
Hasler's passion for the water led him, a U.S. Coast Guard-certified master captain, in 2008 to start American Shoreline, a revetment company for waterfront properties. The desire to be on the water, and not just near it, was too strong, though, driving Hasler to return to the life that first captured his heart: boating.
"Prior to the shoreline erosion business, we had a goal of bringing parasailing to the Kentucky Lake region," said Hasler. Those plans changed quickly, however, when his wife, a National Guard veteran, was deployed to Iraq.
"Obviously, our goals changed and life took on a new direction," said Hasler, "but here we are years later, excited to start a water-based business we love."
While the company, Kentucky Lake Boat Charters, formed late last year, Hasler says he is excited about its debut season.
"I'm really looking forward to providing the experience of being on the water to others," said Hasler, "and especially those who do not own their own boats. When they charter with us, it's all up to them. Some want to dock and swim, some choose to fish, and others simply wish to cruise and sight-see."
Hasler's boat, endearingly named The Propaganda, is a 50-foot Silverton motor yacht. It boasts three bedrooms and two baths, comfortably sleeping up to 10 passengers. Kentucky Lake Boat Charters is a turnkey operation, meaning those booking the vessel get the captain along with the boat. A family affair, Hasler's wife and children also enjoy helping on the vessel.
The benefits of using a chartered boat service are significant and provide a unique boating experience for amateur boaters, inexperienced water-lovers, and even seasoned veterans, Hasler explained.
"With a chartered boat service like ours," he said, "there are no worries about navigating the water, knowing the rules of boat operation, or missing moments with family or friends."
Cruisers aboard The Propaganda may bring their own food (the boat has a full kitchen and outdoor grill) or request dining at marine locations. Although KLBC is not a fishing charter service, passengers are encouraged to bring their own fishing gear if they choose. Hasler says recreational items, including inflatable rafts, also are welcome.
Those seeking a water getaway with KLBC have multiple options. According to Hasler, people may select from popular packages ranging from hourly cruises to weekend excursions. Overnight packages allow individuals to sleep on board and continue their excursion the following day. Additionally, visitors may customize their own experiences. Hasler said the destination is up to the individual.
"If a group wishes to cruise to Paducah or Nashville, for example, we make that happen," he said. "We can customize any cruise, whether it's a bridal party, family reunion, or just a getaway with friends."
Outings will begin in April, but Hasler already is accepting bookings via his website, www.kentuckylakeboatcharters.com, or by phone at 270-709-5665. The boat is available for weekday and weekend cruises.
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