Journeyer DockedStory and Photos By: Kate Fincham

Journeyer tied up at the Ivy Lea Yacht Club dock

In the world of yachting, it is increasingly becoming the case that Canada is no longer the small fish in the big North American pond. Canadian boaters are investing in larger and larger yachts, which were previously commonplace only in waters of the coastal USA, and it seems that the market might be growing in response to this. The owners of these boats are also choosing to spend their summers exploring the scenic waterways within Canada rather thansolely spending all of their time cruising south of the border.

This evolving trendis exemplified by the owners of Journeyer, a Neptunus 650 Express, which was launched in April 2017. Wishing to remain anonymous (speculatively because they would have so many people calling wanting to come onboard their beautiful boat!), they nonetheless warmly welcomed Captain John Armstrong and I onboard two months after taking possession of the vessel.

The large window porthole feature looking out of the master stateroomJourneyer Porthole

Our first impression of Journeyer, gleamingat the end of the Ivy Lea Yacht Club dock in the early morning Thousand Islands sunshine, was of an incredibly sleek, eye-catching 67’ motor yacht. Her streamlined hull features the striking design element of a forward porthole inset into a much larger one, which provides for a bright master stateroomand gives the yacht a unique look. While larger than her floating counterparts at Ivy Lea, she by no means looked ostentatiously out of place.

For the owners of Journeyer, boating has been a long-standing family tradition. Raising their children in the Midwestern United States (where they had relocated for work), they found being out on the water theperfect activity for keeping themselves and theirfamilyentertained in the summertime.

“It was kind of strange to start boating in a landlocked state, but there were a ton of lakes and reservoirs there,” commented one of the owners.“For a 21' boat that you can trailer, it was really perfect.” This passion for boating continued, and when they moved back to Canada they began discussing options that would allow for weekend trips. Eventually they settled on a 32’ Sundancer, which fit their needs and specifications. Loving the freedom afforded by a yacht with sleeping and living capabilities, a few years later they upgraded to a 45' Express Bridge, and then a 45’ Sedan Bridge.

Finding a community of like-minded boaters at Hutchinson’s Marina in Alexandria Bay, they began taking longer trips and travelling in flotillas around the Great Lakes. They cruised to Belleville and Toronto, over to the Ottawa River, through the 47 locks of the Rideau Canal, and to Montreal. Out of all of the cruising they have done, both in the US and Canada, their most memorable afternoon was last year in Tadoussac, a small village on the North bank of the St. Lawrence River. They both became excitedly animated recounting their adventure, where a Mink Whale repeatedly breached just in front of their boat. They showed Captain John and I some breathtaking photos depicting a whale fully vertical, bursting out of the water. It was clear that these sorts of experiences are only one of many reasons that they invest so much time and resources into their passion for boating.

Master State RoomJourneyer’s bright and spacious master stateroom, featuring the large window porthole

When one of the owners had a potentially life-threatening health issue last year, it served as a highly significant wake-up call for them both. After she emerged from the ordeal in full health, they were both able to realize the importance of living in the present moment.

"Life's too short. We need to do what we want to do, and we need to do it now,” he remarked. “Not 10 years from now, because we might not be around.” The actualization of this was realizing their mutual dream of getting a larger yacht, which could accommodate all of their now-grown sons and their significant others. For them, it was maintaining that family space that had been engendered by their speedboat on the lakes in Indiana when the children were young.

They began researching yachts, thinking they would likely go with another Sea Ray. However, down at the Palm Beach Boat Show, they encountered the Neptunus booth. After talking at length with the Neptunus representative and viewing the first hull of the 650 Express, they realized that this boat “ticked all of their boxes.”It had the required number of cabins, was amply equipped for long journeys, and was built to CE Class A, meaning it is rated for unlimited ocean travel. Beyond the technical specifications they were looking for, the owners recalled that they were floored when they found out that Neptunus was a Canadian boatbuilder, with their factory in St. Catharines, Ontario.

InteriorThe passageway leading out of the master stateroom, with full-height cupboards concealing a laundry machine and storage

This fact played a significant role in their decision to build Journeyer, as they are both proponents of purchasing Canadian manufactured goods whenever possible. Beyond that, there was a significant financial incentive. Having purchased their three other Sea Ray yachts in the United States, they had to cover the exchange rate as well as pay an import duty for each boat, regardless of the fact that they were also trading a boat in each time. Having a Canadian boatbuilder and paying in Canadian dollars just made sense when coupled with the meticulous quality afforded by Neptunus and the already highly competitive price point.

Another major factor in choosing to go with Neptunus was the ability to have a semi custom-built boat. When they were in negotiations the hull for their 650 was already built, but the interior configuration was capable of being designed to their specifications and requirements. This process, they happily recounted, was an exciting and incredibly positive one. They said thatJan Willem De Jong, the director of Neptunus, walked them through every step of the process, accommodating their needs and wants, and adding valuable suggestions and contributions. One of the most significant changes they wanted to make to the layout of the interior was to accommodate an office for one of the owners, so that she could work remotely from the boat when necessary. The design team obliged, eliminating the standard head in the third stateroom to accommodate a desk. To this space they added a narrow recess at the back of the desk, which perfectly houses a mattress- turning the one bed stateroom in to a two-bunk room as required. Neptunus also crafted a beautifully utilitarian kitchen with a dishwasher and wine fridge to their specifications, along with a full-size oven to cater to their love of cooking.

Engine RoomThe gleaming engine room of Journeyer

In choosing colours, fabrics, and woods, they were provided with an interior designer, Kelly Jackson-Sorge. She made suggestions, created vision boards with sample materials, and helped accommodate their specific requests for custom-made wood floors (as they wanted aspecific grey that was not available) and helm seat combinations (tan seats with a very thin grey piping, inspired by the interior of a Mercedes they had seen at a car show). Everything from the gorgeous, modern grey-and-white tiling in the showers, down to the accent cushions for the salon had been discussed, analyzed, and sourced with direction from the owners. The result of this combined effort is a sleek interior, with tans, greys, whites, and blues being showcased around the inside space.

Beyond the thoughtfully designed and meticulously crafted interior, the area that one of the owners of Journeyerwas most excited to show us was the engine room. With an incredible 6’2” of headroom, at his height he is very comfortably able to navigate around. Judging by the gleaming and spotlesssurfaces, this amazing space is clearly one of his favourite spots on the entire yacht.

Ivy LeaThe dockside fine-dining restaurant at the Ivy Lea Yacht Club

In the space aft of the engine room is a day head and crew cabin. Initially they didn’t see the need for a crew cabin, being as they always run the boat by themselves or with family and friends. Jan, in what seems like his infinite wisdom, managed to convince them; they are now happy to use it either as storage or as a fourth berth to which they canrelegate one of their sons.

Another one of their favourite features of Journeyer is the Yacht Controller, which allows for one of the owners to manipulate the thrusters and engines from a small handheld remote device while the other mans the fenders. This means that they can both be on deck, beside each other, steering the boat into its berth with ease and with unhindered visibility. Gone are the days, they laughingly joked, when they used to have to yell wildly or use headsets to communicate while docking.

The GalleyThe custom-designed galley of Journeyer

The Ivy Lea Yacht Club, where Journeyerwas docked since her launch in April, was just another reason for the owners to be excited about spending long weekends onboard. Impeccably designed, in the summertime it haswildflower gardens that spill down terraced flower beds and onto beautiful flagstone paths. Altogether, it gives the impression of Eden-like beauty (belied by the large staff of gardeners who were at work). Even the bathrooms one of the owners likened to a spa, and after being taken on a tour I found out that she was not exaggerating. A swimming pool overlooks the waterfront, and an impressive restaurant perches welcomingly at the end of the yacht dock. When we visited the gym- a high-ceilinged, bright building with a wide variety of equipment- we found a small yoga class in session, open to any members or guests.

While they planned to spend the winter of 2018 down in Florida, they werevery happy to be cruising in the St. Lawrence River region and using Ivy Lea as their home base.

"Since we've been back to Canada and boating in this area, we haven't left. I've tried some other marinas along the river and we always came back to the Thousand Islands. It's just beautiful. There's such a variety of places to go and see.”Spending time onboard Neptunus’ Journeyer, knowing the local waterways, and experiencing the luxury of Ivy Lea, it seems that Canada has a lot to offer- withthe potential of a lot more to come.