I half expect to see Frances McDormand weeding a flowerbed as I turn the corner on the freshly swept sidewalk. It's 8 a.m. in Charlottetown, on Atlantic Canada's Prince Edward Island, and the few voices I hear have an almost Fargo-esque accent. A couple of priests await the opening of the church door. A grocery worker unloads blueberries into a bin. The corner coffee shop is called Linda's. I'll bet she's inside, starched white apron around her waist, grinding fresh beans right now.
All had been quiet at Charlottetown Yacht Club when I left, but now, a crowd surrounds the 161-foot Destination Fox Harb'r Too. The Trinity trideck is taller than any nearby building. Folks seem as though they're at an air show, staring up with open mouths and politely asking the occasional question of crew who are working on deck.
Then I see what's really happening: The gawkers, dressed casually in T-shirts and flip-flops, aren't so much looking at the yacht and crew as at the boat-show-style placard the crew have affixed to the superstructure. It itemizes the builder, speed, and specs-all the things that people who have never seen a boat of this size might wonder about.
It's an unusual thing for a crew to do outside of a boat show, and yet oddly, the sign does not seem pretentious. It's just the yacht's owner, Ron Joyce, telling his fellow locals about this amazing feat of engineering he's had the good fortune to buy and bring home. The crew has placed the placard with his blessing, almost as a surrogate for the man himself. If he were here, he'd probably put his arm around the mayor's shoulder and say, "Can you believe a boat could weigh so much?"
Joyce, you see, is a legend in these waters. He is well known as a single mother's son who fought in Korea in the '50s before partnering with Canadian hockey player Tim Horton to expand Horton's doughnut business into a franchise with twice as many Canadian storefronts as McDonald's. Ever since Wendy's bought the franchise and made Joyce wealthy beyond most people's dreams, he's been quoted as saying he sees giving back as an obligation-and he put his millions where his mouth is by founding the Tim Horton's Children's Foundation. Every year, it helps about 15,000 disadvantaged kids forget their worries. Joyce also recently gave $10 million to McMaster University in Ontario, to launch a new campus.
It never occurred to him to buy a megayacht-he'd always had sailboats-until he chartered a Feadship to watch the St. Barth's Bucket a few years ago. Not long after, he took ownership of Destination Fox Harb'r Too when it was about 80-percent complete at the Trinity yard. He made few changes to the stunning Patrick Knowles interior; the master's nanny cabin is now a study, and there's no longer an aquarium in the main saloon. Other than that, the yacht is just as it was intended from the start-except that instead of being one of the most talked-about motoryachts in the Mediterranean each summer, it's north of Maine in a place where large-yacht charter otherwise does not exist.
The reason for the unusual location is Fox Harb'r Resort, a Graham Cook-designed golf course with spa, sporting clays, restaurant, boutique hotel, and luxury residences set on about 1,100 acres that Joyce bought in the 1980s as undeveloped land. "He wasn't even a golfer at that time," his son, Steve Joyce, told me as we chomped on salads and French fries at the clubhouse restaurant. "He was about 55 years old, and he was looking for something to do." Today, that something is entertaining guests aboard Destination Fox Harb'r Too as it sits at anchor overlooking the 15th tee, and cruising to places like nearby Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton to play the best courses there, too.
I was indulging in a bit of that lifestyle, watching my husband line up a putt on Fox Harb'r Resort's front nine, when the whir of a golf cart battery jolted our gazes upright. It took us a moment to realize it was Ron Joyce himself sidling over from the cart path-just to shake our hands and make sure we were having a good time. He didn't so much beam with pride as furrow his brow with genuine concern that we might have some unmet need or desire. He was playing host, as opposed to owner.