Island Hopping

Island Hopping

The Haralovich family of Ontario finds their 470 Sundancer is the loveliest atoll in the 1,000 Islands.

There are actually 1,864 islands in the “1,000 Islands” region of the Saint Lawrence River, but I can see why a tallier might lose count.

It’s easier to count the kids in the Ivy Lea Marina lining up at John and Nada Haralovich’s 470 Sundancer, Janko V, when it’s time for breakfast. You see, John has a special way with breakfast, and the kids can’t get enough. In fact, as the scent fills the air, their boat seems to draw all the nearby families over.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” Nada says of the constant block-party atmosphere they’ve found here along the Saint Lawrence. “When we’re out here on the weekends, we’re not just boating, It’s a huge social experience … a way of life.” 

Mom and kids

Against a backdrop of studded natural beauty, Nada Haralovich and her kids huddle close on their 470 Sundancer.

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Though life on the water is fairly new for the Haralovich family, they’ve taken to it like fish. Their first boat was a Sea Ray 195 Sport, purchased in 2009 from Hurst Marine. However, they quickly realized that with long days with young kids on a boat, it’s not a bad idea to have a head. So they moved up to their next Sea Ray, a 270 Sundancer, which gave them not only a washroom, but also a true cabin experience. 

Having a way to stay overnight on the water exposed the family to a whole new level of fun, and before the season of 2010 was over, they’d moved up again, this time to a 310 Sundancer, which offered the family even more space.

“At that point we felt we needed a larger vessel, because we wanted to take extended trips,” he continues. “With the help of our dealer, we decided to purchase a 2011 390 Sundancer. For those counting, that was our third boat in 2010!” he adds with a laugh.

Despite their newfound joys, 2011 ended up being a very trying year for John personally. He was diagnosed with an eye disease that required immediate surgery in both eyes to save his vision. During his recovery his father passed away, and shortly after, his mother suffered a stroke. 

“It was a very difficult time,” Nada says. “And when we came through it, we were aware more than ever that life is very short, and that the quality of life can also be cut short.”

470 Sundancer

With a 470 Sundancer and a summer of weekends, you can enjoy nearly as many friendships as there are islands on the magical Saint Lawrence River.

Every aspect of the hardships suffered in 2011 encouraged the couple to really grab for what they wanted, and to cherish all they had. It was this reinvigorated attitude that brought the 470 Sundancer into their lives.

“With the events of 2011 behind us, we were looking forward to our boating future more than ever,” John explains. “We knew we wanted to move up to a larger vessel, so we attended the Toronto boat show to see what was available. After visiting other brands and seeing what they offered, we came back to Sea Ray. These were the boats I trust and am proud to own.”

Features that sold the couple on the 470 were its extended sun roof, aft cabin for the kids, Zeus system with its Skyhook and Autopilot features and the color presentation for 2012, which they took full advantage of by ordering the boat from the factory.

They knew the larger, more exploration-oriented boat deserved larger, more exploration-friendly waters, and what a better marine playground than the Saint Lawrence Seaway and its massive archipelago, understatedly-dubbed Thousand Islands.

There are miles and miles of water and so many little spaces to stop and play.

What makes this waterway an amazing boating destination isn’t just its expansiveness, but also its island-enhanced intimacy. You can literally travel from the Atlantic Seaboard all the way to the Great Lakes on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, but you can also find a secluded island cove and anchor out for a day or weekend and feel like you’re in your own private paradise.

After giving its morning bath, John goes down to the galley to begin his breakfast duty. As if on cue, the marinahood begins to stir and the kids sleepily gather. The delicious scent wafting from the galley onto the dock is rich and homey. Before long, the adults gather, coffee cups in hand, to discuss the day’s outing. “By about noon we have a plan for where we are going to anchor out,” John says. “And for the rest of the day, we’re all on duty, watching all the kids to make sure they’re safe and having the best time possible.”

On the way to the afternoon’s gathering, we gingerly thread through countless islands and shoals for a touristy moment at Boldt Castle, a sprawling Rhineland-style affair built in the early 1900s by Charles Boldt. John explains the famously tragic story of how Charles’s beloved wife, Louise, had died very suddenly, and Boldt immediately halted construction of the castle, never to return again to the monument he’d built in homage to his love for his family.

is John Haralovich’s homage, and he and Nada are not going to let a single moment pass without appreciating their family, their good fortune and the way their Sea Ray Sundancer helps keep everything important in perspective.

So, until the next boat purchase, you’ll find the Haralovichs enjoying summers on the water … counting their blessings, and their islands. All 1,864 of them.

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