Adventures of Berkeley East

06 July 2016 | Brindisi, Italy
05 July 2016 | Othoni, Greece
31 May 2016 | Gulfs of Corinth and Patras, Greece
29 May 2016 | Pireaus, Greece
23 May 2016 | Serifos, Greece
18 May 2016 | Thira, Greece
16 May 2016 | Mykonos, Greece
10 May 2016
24 September 2015
24 August 2015
16 July 2015 | Gaios - Paxos, Greece
14 July 2015 | Ionian Islands, Greece
03 July 2015 | Kalamata, Greece
26 June 2015 | Crete, Greece
15 June 2015 | Santorini, Greece
09 June 2015
08 June 2015 | Southern Dodecanese Islands, Greece
05 June 2015 | Rhodes, Grece

One picture, a thousand words

06 July 2016 | Brindisi, Italy
Thanks to the digital age, we take thousands of pictures each year. We cannot imagine cruising the Med with a camera that has film, which requires developing. It would simply be cost prohibiting to snap the number of photos that we do, not to mention the challenge of finding some place on remote islands, in tiny villages, to develop the film, then scan the photos in order to post them on this blog. But as long as we have space on the memory card and a charged battery, we can click, click, click, to our hearts content. And click we do. There are situations, however, when we don't even think to take pictures, as was the case during our arrival in Italy.

We began with an early morning departure from Othonio Island in Greece. After carefully raising the anchor from the rocky minefield that we inadvertently dropped into the night before, we headed to the Adriatic Sea with the destination of Otranto Italy. Sloppy seas and wind on the nose made the first part of the journey somewhat uncomfortable, but at least the sun was shining. We busied ourselves with boat chores and books to pass the time. With just two hours to go, we called Otranto for a berth, only to be told that there was no room at the inn. We knew anchoring would be problematic in the small harbor, so after a quick look at the weather, we decided to push on to Brindisi. What's another nine hours?

Brindisi is a large commercial port on the east coast of Italy. We wanted to tour some of the surrounding region of Puglia and this would give us a good base for land travel. About five miles from the harbor, we noticed a rather ominous dark cloud and questioned if it might rain. But the weather forecast had just shown clouds, no rain. So we ignored the black mass in front of us and focused on the two enormous freighters approaching, along with one ginormous tanker leaving, the harbor. There were pilot boats and tugboats and little fishing boats everywhere. It was a frenetic environment, to say the least. But there seemed little concern for the weather; everyone was just going about the business at hand. In the distance we noticed a sailboat, its sails in shreds, and we wondered. Moments later, the wind began to come up and we soon had 40 knots with waves crashing over the bow. Then, there was thunder, and lightening so close to Berkeley East we had goose bumps. And ultimately, there was the classic torrential downpour. BE was in need of a good wash but this was not how we wanted to get her cleaned. While we planned evasive maneuvers for the freighters, and dodged the tiny fishing boats that were finally racing for cover, we decided what pieces of electronics to put in the microwave in case BE's mast was struck by lightening. The choices of radios, GPS and computers were obvious, but cameras went in as well. No thoughts of taking photos even crossed our minds.

Once inside the harbor, we breathed a sigh of relief and decided to move away from the cargo ships and wait for the storm to pass before attempting to dock. Brindisi's harbor has multiple docks on the outside for big ships, so we went through the cut where we would be out of the way, only to be followed by a 600-foot freighter. Where were they going? As we got inside, we noticed that there were areas where the freighter could possibly dock, both to the right and to the left. So we stopped and waited to see which way the massive beast would turn, only to realize that it wasn't turning at all, it was anchoring, right there, nearly on top of BE. Yikes! Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, we stood our ground and held our breath. As we were contemplating what to do, and feeling like sitting ducks, we noticed a man run down from a cafe to the dock, through the rain and lightening, to take a picture of Berkeley East and her much larger new friend. Perhaps he was an insurance agent who thought he could help by documenting the impending disaster. We still never imagined getting the cameras from the microwave, or taking our attention off the steel monster for one second.

With catastrophe avoided, we cruised slowly past the long dock looking for a good space to recover from our ordeal. We were still planning to wait for the storm to end before docking, when we heard a whistle and, that all too familiar, friendly Italian word, Bongiorno! We looked through the downpour and saw the dock master standing in the rain, waving us in. Setting up Berkeley East to dock is complicated enough, but getting fenders and lines ready with lightening in sight is on our list of "never do things." But there was another boat coming in behind us, so it was now or never. And as we trudged around BE's slick deck we wondered what we were doing, but we never pondered taking pictures.

During all of the chaos, all of the potential disasters, all of the questionable decisions, we never once thought to pull out the cell phone, or camera. We also didn't say: "hey let's make a video!" We were simply too busy dealing with the crisis at hand to even entertain the notion of recording memories, let alone turning our attention away from the immediate situation. Too bad, as the entire event would have made for an exciting video that would likely have gone viral if posted on the Internet. We marvel at people who have the ability to stop and record such stressful moments.

Once safely at the dock, with the rain and clouds gone, we did finally think to take a picture, just the one. We're very happy to be back in Italy. Ciao!

Αutio (goodbye) Greece

05 July 2016 | Othoni, Greece
During the last five cruising seasons, Berkeley East has spent a huge amount of time in Greece. We have visited some 60 islands; countless anchorages, towns and cities have been explored. Some were quintessential, others, not so much. But each one added to the fabulous experience that is Greece.

We have celebrated four birthdays, three anniversaries, and numerous holidays throughout the Greek islands. We have examined the history, embraced the culture, and endured the seemingly endless Meltimi winds. We do not have any idea how many Greek salads have been consumed, or the amount of Euros that have been spent, but while visiting, we tried our best to make a positive impact on the Greek economy.

Now, with thousands of photographs representing five years of memories, we say antio (goodbye) to this beautiful country.

We spent our last few weeks in Greece cruising, and droning, in the Ionians, the westernmost island chain. It was our fourth time through these islands, so we picked a few favorite spots to relax, meet up with friends, and snap just a few hundred more pictures before sailing BE back into the Adriatic Sea.

Vathi, Ithica - One of the most beautiful natural harbors in the Ionian islands.

Ormos Varko - Our first drone experience was last year on Varkos Beach, where friends from the Caribbean, Pete and Sari on Gatapardo, gave a demonstration and captured a wonderful drone shot of Berkeley East. By the time we got home, Larry's birthday present was on its way.

Lakka, Paxio - one of our favorites anchorages in the Ionians. With 75 boats squeezed in, it was far more crowded than we had ever seen, but one of the boats was our friends from Turkey, the Sea Changes

After flying the drone for a while, a neighboring boat launched the competition. Two drones in one small harbor was one drone too many.

Ormos Garitsas, Corfu - Always a beautiful spot anchored under the old fortress



Friends Pam and Steve on Eirene needed water, so we attached a hose to Berkeley East and transferred a few gallons in Corfu.

Ormos Koufalas, Corfu

The Delivery

31 May 2016 | Gulfs of Corinth and Patras, Greece
We had been through the Corinth Canal, Gulf of Corinth and the Gulf of Patras twice before, so this passage was more about moving the boat, than exploring. We were traveling out of the Aegean and into the Ionian Sea, and we wanted to do it fast. In the boating world, this is sometimes called a delivery. But in contrast to a typical delivery that is normally done by a paid crew, we were delivering our own boat, Berkeley East, to ourselves.

Our two previous Corinth Canal transits were from west to east, this one was east to west. Based on past experience, we researched the option of paying our transit fees in advance, through an agent in Pireaus, so we would not have to stop on the wall and risk the massive swells that often roll through from freighter traffic. It was a good move. Not only were we able to avoid docking, with our fees paid, Berkeley East was called through the canal immediately upon her arrival, no waiting.

Our first canal transit, four years ago, took two hours behind a cargo ship going 2 knots. The second trip took just 20 minutes at 8 knots, with the canal operator calling over the radio for everyone to go faster. We wondered what the third passage might bring. The speed was somewhat average at about 6 knots, which is what the pilot guide states as the maximum. The key differences this time were the bungee jumpers, and the mast climbers. The Corinth Canal is 3.2 miles long and 75 feet wide, with limestone walls that rise 250 feet above sea level. The maximum draft permitted is 21 feet, and the maximum height is 170 feet due to three bridges that cross the canal. It is not uncommon to see large groups of people gathered on the bridges; tour groups taking pictures. But this was the first time we heard loud chanting as we passed under one of the bridges, followed by a body falling. We were relieved when the body bounced back up, springing on the bungee line attached to its ankles.

There is also a current of 1-3 knots in the canal that can flow in either direction depending on the wind direction. And severe gusts can blow off the surrounding land at either end. Which is why we were surprised to see a person climbing the mast on one of the boats in front of us. Not only did they climb and take pictures while in the canal, they stayed at the top long after exiting. We hate going up the mast in a calm marina, let alone on a moving boat in precarious conditions. We wondered if they were stuck up there, were making a repair, or were just plain crazy.

A delivery is a bit like moving in a car across country; you want to drive as long as you can stay awake and find a Motel 6 or a La Quinta, with convenient freeway access, where you can close the curtains and catch a few winks. Then you get up the next day and repeat. So once through the canal, we looked for an anchorage where we didn't have to veer too far off course, with protection from the weather and hopefully a little quiet for some rest. We didn't care about beauty or entertainment, as we were going to bed early and getting up at the crack of dawn. Just before sunset, we dropped the hook in Ormos Isidoros, a small bay about 30 miles west of the canal. One side of the shore was lined with what looked like deserted buildings, the other cluttered with cars and umbrellas. The water was full of waste from the fish farm in the next cove. Definitely more of a Motel 6 in po-dunk-ville than the more upscale La Quinta, but it was sheltered from the wind and swell so that's all that mattered. Funny though, no matter how hard we tried to take a picture showing the true nature of the place, the resulting images were beautiful.

Up at O-Dark-Thirty and off again. This time with a goal of making an island called Trizonia. It was rough, choppy and cold, typical conditions for a delivery. But when you have the mindset of getting from point A to point B, you just hunker down for the ride. The island of Trizonia was a La Quinta variety of stops, with a free dock, a colorful live-aboard community, and a lovely barge in the anchorage.

Sunrise departure on the third and final day of the delivery took us under the beautiful Rion-Andirrion suspension bridge (the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world). It was a long day of motoring but we were heading west and got ahead of the big afternoon west winds, so we were happy.

We landed in Vathi, Ithica that evening, back in the Ionian for the fourth time. Delivery successful. A few days of recovery, then we would begin our cruising, and exploring, once again.

Vessel Name: Berkeley East
Vessel Make/Model: Hylas 54
Hailing Port: San Diego, CA
Crew: Larry & Mary Ivins
About: We quit our jobs in July of 2007 and began our adventure, sailing the US east coast in the summers and then spending our winters in the Caribbean. In 2010 we sailed across the Atlantic and will be cruising the Med for the next few years.
FAQ Q: Did you go to UC Berkeley? A: No. The name Berkeley East came from a ferry boat, "the Berkeley", that we met on over 30 years ago in San Diego. The East came as a result of seeing the boat being built in Taiwan. There was 30-foot Chinese symbol on the wall behind her during [...]
Berkeley East's Photos - Caribbean 1500 2008 (Main)
18 Photos
Created 17 May 2013
Extra pictures for Croatia
12 Photos
Created 5 September 2012
Venice June 2012
20 Photos
Created 12 July 2012
Tuscany trip summer 2011
30 Photos
Created 18 July 2011
Pictures from June 2011 - The Ligurian Coast of Italy
29 Photos
Created 29 June 2011
Wardrick Wells - Exuma Land and Sea Park May 2009
11 Photos
Created 4 May 2009
6 Photos
Created 22 April 2009
20 Photos
Created 21 April 2009
24 Photos
Created 19 April 2009
Pictures from our trip to Los Testigos, Venezuela - March 2009
5 Photos
Created 11 April 2009
4 Photos
Created 28 March 2009
Pics form the 2008 Caribbean 1500
No Photos
Created 26 November 2008
Octopuses Garden Highborne, Exuma Cay, Bahamas
15 Photos
Created 22 May 2008
4 Photos
Created 22 April 2008
13 Photos
Created 28 January 2008
Chistmas 2007 in St Maarten with other crusiers and Mike and Linda (frends & meighbors from CA)
6 Photos
Created 28 January 2008
5 Photos
Created 23 December 2007
5 Photos
Created 21 November 2007
3 Photos
Created 5 September 2007
4 Photos
Created 28 August 2007
7 Photos
Created 28 August 2007
6 Photos
Created 22 July 2007
10 Photos
Created 22 July 2007
In early July 2006 we made a quick from Sydney, Australia to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to check on the construction of our Hylas 54. She was a little behind schedule, but the build quality was excellent.
4 Photos
Created 22 July 2007
4 Photos
Created 17 July 2007
After 28 days aboard Sigrun Bolten from Taiwan, Berkeley East arrived in Port Everglades Florida. Mary and I helped unload her and motored up the river to be hauled and rigged. We where joined by our friends and next door neighbors (from CA), who were in Florida cruising from California to the Caribbean.
5 Photos
Created 17 July 2007

Profile & FAQs

Who: Larry & Mary Ivins
Port: San Diego, CA

Our travels


April 2016- Return to Didim Turkey

May 2016 - Cross the Aegean, through the Corinth canal to the Greek Ionian Islands

June 2016 - Greece - Ionian islands and Italy

July - September 2016 - Somewhere in Italy or Croatia

October 2016 - Somewhere in Italy then fly home to Charlotte

Berkeley East's Winter port 2016/2017 - Unknown