Adventures of Berkeley East

29 July 2016 | Dalmatia, Croatia
22 July 2016 | Gargano Peninsula, Italy
21 July 2016 | Puglia, Italy
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

Off the grid

29 July 2016 | Dalmatia, Croatia
When moving Berkeley East from one country to another, there is always a period during which we are disconnected; no phone, no internet, no communication. So we try to get ahead on bills, business and blogs whenever we cross a sea. We expected the crossing from Italy to Croatia to take about 10 hours, so we rose with the sun and planned to complete all internet tasks underway. Rapid typing on an iPhone while sailing Berkeley East and dodging cargo ships is always challenging. Mistakes get made, things are missed and the connection simply goes away without warning. Sometimes it takes as much as a week to get up and running again, as was the case in Croatia.

We landed on the small island of Lovosto to check into the country - "Welcome to Croatia!" The reception was extremely friendly, the check-in process simple. It was a completely different experience than our first entry four years ago, probably the contrast between small islands and major ports. But while tiny islands might ease check in, they complicate getting connected. So began our days off the grid in Croatia.

Next stop was Korcula where we knew we could find what we needed within a day or two, hopefully.

The first day being disconnected can be a bit stressful; as our ears are trained to hear the little ding on the phone telling us we've got mail! And we are used to reading the news, looking at Facebook, checking weather, not to mention having website access for touring research and boat repairs. We wonder how we ever traveled without a smart phone. But once we accepted the inevitable of no connectivity, day two was more comfortable.

While we missed being in touch with friends and family, and were a bit concerned about not having daily weather forecasts, we did not yearn for news reports on politics, riots or terrorists. We finally relaxed and enjoyed living in our little Mediterranean bubble, losing ourselves in the music, escaping reality into books of colorful fictional characters.

We shared stories about Big Lar's cruising adventures in the 1980's, remembering phone calls through ham radio operators requesting boats parts upon our next visit. And a time of family crisis when the Grenada Coast Guard went in search of the Irish Rover to tell Big Lar to phone home. We doubted that we could have done this, back then.

So how long can one live off the grid? In our case, it is the length of one detailed weather forecast, which is three days. On day four, we got connected, or so we thought. Turned out it was just enough to get the weather and move Berkeley East to Loviste, where the fish and lobster salad are fabulous but ATMs and phone stores are non-existent.

We knew we had another three days of weather reports, and fantasy life, before we had to get serious about finding reliable phone and internet service. So we decided to embrace our life off the grid and stop in Klement for some swimming, hiking and meat stick.

On day six, we reluctantly left our paradise and headed for the big city of Split where we knew, without a doubt, that we could get connected. And so we did, with much anticipation to see what we had missed, and who had missed us. As we checked our inboxes, we found lots of junk emails. When we looked at the news, it was the same. Even the weather had been cooperating. Turns out we don't have to check our phone every ten minutes after all.

Lost on the way to Croatia

22 July 2016 | Gargano Peninsula, Italy
It is about 70 miles across the Adriatic Sea from Bari Italy to Lavosto Croatia. Not exactly a straight line, but close enough. So one might wonder how we ended up lost? The answer is simple, as we sailed up the coast of Italy to cross over to Croatia, we were distracted by the Gargano Peninsula, a stunning coastal area in the Puglia region with more than 125 miles of sandy beaches, pine woods, bays, coves, cliffs, dunes and caves.

We had missed this beautiful expanse our first time on Italy's east coast and we really hated the idea of passing it by again, so we were really more distracted than lost.

But we were already checked out of Italy, which means we were supposed to leave the country immediately, and since we always abide by the rules of our host countries, the plan was just to have a look at the Gargano and then move on. Too bad Berkeley East had "gearbox" trouble, forcing us to spend two unplanned days is this serene place.

Most of the Gargano Peninsula is a national park, the Parco Nazionale del Gargano. In geological terms, the Gargano Peninsula, which is mostly mountainous, was once an island, and is still separated from the mainland by a plain called Tavoliere delle Puglie.

The remoteness of the region has helped preserve its beauty. The Mediterranean landscape, dotted with olive trees and citrus groves gently descending to the shore, is contrasted by rugged rocky outcroppings jutting from the sea.

When it became apparent that Berkeley East's mechanical issues would prevent us from continuing on to Croatia, we reluctantly dropped the hook at the famous Baia dei Faraflioni, white rocks emerging from the turquoise blue sea in the form of an arch.

During the day, the bay was busy with tripper boats and dinghies cruising the coast. At night, we were the only boat in the anchorage. We wondered if overnight anchoring was prohibited in the park and expected a 2 am visit from the Guardia Coasta telling us to leave, but it didn't happen. Instead, we awoke in the morning to blue sky and crystal clear water, and spent another day lost in the beauty of the Gargano.

Only in Italy

21 July 2016 | Puglia, Italy
After three years in Greece and Turkey, Berkeley East's return to Italy was met with much enthusiasm among the crew. The land of pizza and pasta has always been a favorite. Our arrival was very challenging, so we welcomed a good nights sleep, and calm conditions in the morning. But we were awoken by BE pitching and rolling, and for a moment we thought we had only dreamed the safe landing. There was a split second of panic as we wondered if we were still at sea and if so, who was on watch? Then we heard the enthusiastic yelling outside, in Italian. Relieved upon realizing that we hadn't imagined arriving and docking in Italy, we poked our heads topside, and felt as though we must be hallucinating. There, right out front of Berkeley East in the harbor, were tanks, Italian army amphibious tanks racing around in the water. And all of the shouting was coming from our dock master telling them to stop making waves. We were a little concerned given that we were smack in between the angry dock master and soldiers with guns. Once we shook the cobwebs out of our sleepy heads, it was hilarious, what a scene. Only in Italy.

With the army's maneuvers complete and Berkeley East safe from gunfire, we needed to get checked into Italy. Having no idea where to go, we wandered through the streets of Brindisi.

Three hours later, we completed the check-in process after receiving assistance from some 20 people, including three translators, all eagerly working to get us to the right place, with the right people. This doesn't happen in other countries.

We decided to drive around to see some of the surrounding region of Puglia. After inquiring about a rental car with our dock master, it was quickly arranged. When we asked for directions to pick up the car, he informed us that his friend would take us, which he did. Then, the friend proceeded to wait until the formalities with the car agency were complete, in order to lead the way back through the winding city streets to the dock. It was great to be back in Italy.

Our travels took us to Ruvo di Puglia, a historical town which boasts one of the best preserved old quarters dating from medieval times. Today, it is a town devoted to agriculture, wine and olive growing. Just our type of place.

Ruvo di Puglia is also was home to many churches, and we found ourselves drawn into each and every one of them. Visiting every church we see is something we only do in Italy. And we were fortunate to be able crash a beautiful wedding, something we have done many times in this country.

We stopped in the town of Alberobello to see the trulli "houses." A trullo is a traditional dry stone, without motor, hut with a conical roof found only in Italy, in the Itria valley of Puglia. This style of structure was used so that it could be dismantled quickly; some say an efficient way to escape when the tax man was coming.

Puglia's tradition of winemaking goes back to the Phoenicians, who are believed to have practiced viticulture as far back as 2000BC. It was so ingrained in the culture by the time the Greeks arrived they called Puglia "Enotria" which means Wineland. While Puglia's wines are not as famous as those from other Italian regions, they are excellent and offer a very good value. But visiting the wineries is very challenging, as they require advance appointments and close for several hours in the middle of the day. We went to one winery that was just closing for the afternoon, but they allowed us in to make a purchase. When we asked questions in English, a translator was summoned. When we probed if we could taste just one wine before we bought, glasses were brought out, along with several wines, snacks and water.

At another winery, we were told it was impossible to have a tour or tasting, so we asked to just have a look at the beautiful grounds. An hour later, we had been given a guided visit of the entire facility, and were sampling wines with the CEO of the company. Only in Italy.

A move up the coast to Bari, led to refrigerator repairs. When the technician arrived, he spoke no English, but his diagnosis needed no translation, "kaput", he said. After several exchanges using Google Translate, we had a plan for parts and installation, and a special price for cash. So off we went in search of a bank, a simple enough task. When the Fitbit hit 30,000 steps, we knew we had made a few wrong turns, something we recall doing a lot of in Italy.

In Bari they make a unique snack called Barese focaccia. It's not something you find in a restaurant, but a delicacy to be picked up on the street, or fresh from the oven at a local bakery. We walked into a small, family-run bakery and had the best Barese focaccia ever. The words "parla inglese" brought heads shaking in the negative, but the little lady did not give up, she seemed to welcome the challenge. After much smiling, pantomiming and laughing we walked away with roughly one half of a kilo of this yummy snack, congratulating ourselves on our excellent communication skills.

We needed to do some provisioning before leaving Italy again, so we drove to a very large market and spent the better part of the morning translating words on our phone to understand what we were buying. It was a Saturday, so the store was very crowded, as were the checkout lines. As we parked our cart, with its 500 items, in a queue, a woman began speaking very harshly to us in Italian. We stared at her blankly and changed lines. Soon there was a lot of commotion, a man yelled at the woman, and then spoke to the cashier. The man told us to go back to the first line, people moved out of the way to let us through. We had been in the "10 items or less line" and the man asked the cashier if she would take us through her line anyway, with our 500 items, which she happily did. Then the woman came to us to apologize, in Italian. Apparently she didn't realize that we were American, given that we look so Italian. She had probably been saying, "can't you idiots read?"

And so it went, during our brief stop in Italy. Simple experiences enhanced by generous, helpful people taking pity on the Americans. And when we did leave, and had to get our passports stamped out of the country, we didn't have to roam around searching, the police came to us. Only in Italy.

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)
Photos for blog post
15 Photos
Created 2 August 2016
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