Adventures of Berkeley East

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
26 May 2015 | Skopea Limani, Turkey
19 May 2015 | Cappadocia Turkey

Sushi, strikes and signatures

29 May 2016 | Pireaus, Greece

We usually prefer exploring new destinations rather than revisiting the same places over and over. But there is something to be said for going back to a marina where you have been before, like Zea Marina in Pireaus Greece. There are no worries about where you will dock, no wondering about how to prepare, everything is known, and recognizable. So when we informed the marina that Berkeley East had arrived, and the tender came to meet us, we knew exactly what to expect, exactly where to go. But instead of turning right, the marinaras went left, rather than taking us to the inside docks with the 50-foot boats, they directed us outside, to the mega yacht berths. We know that BE is so pretty that she rivals even the finest of super yachts, but really? We had to back in between two huge powerboats, at an angle, with lead lines positioned perfectly to foul the prop. The fenders on our new neighbors were higher than Berkeley East's freeboard; the dock was taller than her stern. It was, to say the least, nerve wracking.

One of our neighbors had a Malibu ski boat like we have at home, except he carried it on his deck and has a crane onboard to lift it off!

Another of our neighbors was Olympias a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme - A warship with three banks of oars maned by over 150 men.

But while familiar is comforting, changing perspective is also good, and we quickly discovered that life with the big boats meant, among other things, sushi delivered to the dock!

We chose Pireaus to leave BE while we made a trip to the US Embassy in Athens for some notary services. One might think that a visit to a US Embassy in Greece is simple, however we soon found out that not only was an appointment required, notary appointments were booked out for weeks. But we also learned that with persistence, one can call, and call, and call, and beg, and after several days, they either get tired of your pestering, or take pity on your predicament, and give you a meeting time.

Having been in Greece for several years, we are quite familiar with the country and their strikes. Employees seem to think that going on strike is the only way to get results from the government for wage or benefit increases. Striking here has actually become something of a tradition. There is even a web site dedicated to listing the various strike schedules, which is where we looked to be certain that our planned trip to the embassy would not be impacted by a transportation strike. And with all the planning, imagine our surprise when we hailed a cab for a ride to the train station, only to be told, "trains finished." Luckily, taxi drivers do not strike on the same days as train workers so we were relieved to arrive at the embassy well before the appointment time, which was a good thing because it took quite a while to get through the security check.

Whenever we go very far from Berkeley East in a foreign country, one of us comes prepared for most occurrences. Cell phones with external chargers, cameras with extra batteries, selfie sticks, tripods, thumb drives, you name it, we carry it, just in case. Anyone visiting the US Embassy in Athens can rest assured that nothing gets past security. After several passes through the metal detector, they found things in the bag that we didn't even know were there. An hour later and ten pounds lighter, we were allowed into the building.

The appointment process at a US Embassy is very much like going to the DMV in the states. You pick a number and wait with the 20+ other people already in the cramped room (we wanted to take a photo but they took all our cameras at security). The notary process itself is the same as it is at a bank in the US with one exception, the cost. For some crazy reason, notary fees at the US Embassy in Greece are ten times more than is charged for the same service in the US.

After two hours and $250, we recovered all our paraphernalia from security, and headed out for a quick walk around the city.

On our walk from the embassy to city we came across "Dromeas" a 30 foot tall sculpture made of jagged glass plates running along the road.

Upon passing the US Embassy sign that faces one of the busiest streets in Athens, we snapped a picture, only to have a guard rush out and tell us to delete it. They must have to keep the location a secret. Since we didn't want to get thrown in jail with Russian prostitutes, we followed the guard's instructions. Then we went to one of our favorite places in Athens to enjoy the view and celebrate our freedom.

Just a little North: Part Two

23 May 2016 | Serifos, Greece
During our first year in the Cyclades, we tried to defy nature and sail north against the unforgiving north winds. Finally, after being beaten and battered over and over again, we came to our senses and vowed to never, ever do that again. So here we were two years later, in Santorini, the southernmost island in the Cyclades Island chain, when we received documents that required a US notarized signature. Where do you find a US notary in Greece, you ask? Good question.

With a little research, we found that while Greek notary and online options existed, only one thing would work for the necessary signatures: a US notary at a US Embassy. There are two US Embassies in Greece; one in Athens and one in Thessoloniki, both quite bit north of Santorini. While going north was not ideal, we thought that, with logic and caution, it was doable. So reluctantly, we began the trip some 150 miles north to Athens, hoping for south winds and calm seas.

Our first stop was Folegandros, a little island that we had not seen before. The path from Santorini to Folegandros had little wind and rolling northwest seas, not great for sailing, but not too bad considering the direction we were headed. Upon our arrival, we were surprised to see a number of other boats; it appeared our fellow cruisers were finally beginning to leave their winter berths.

Borrowing the favorite words of a good friend, the island of Folegandros was "charming," with just three villages and some 650 inhabitants. We walked over the hill to the Chora and explored the quiet little hamlet, perched on the side of a cliff, with their unique colorful balconies, and tried to ignore the northern passage looming ahead.

Lunch of Cretan salad with darkos - soaked barley rusk topped with chopped tomatoes, a local cheese, olives, peppers, capers and herbs.

While we would have loved to linger in Folegandros a while, or even move a bit west to another unexplored island of Milos, the documents had a deadline and there were undesirable winds in the forecast, so off we went in search of protection. We landed in Serifos, an island we had visited last year, with a good harbor for the dreaded north winds.

We toyed with the idea of leaving after one night, but luckily the rain and swell brought with it intelligence, and we hunkered down for the three-day blow. As we watched all the charter boats come in with people rugged up in foul weather gear, we were pleased with our decision to stay. And between the 40-knot gusts, it was very entertaining to watch charter boat after charter boat race into the harbor trying to beat the others to the dock, with sometimes six boats lined up to back into the tiny marina.

Once the weather calmed, we made the final passage. With a sunrise start, little wind and flat seas, Berkeley East motored easily, just a little bit north to Pireaus, a town outside Athens. Our journey north was not nearly as challenging as our first year in the Cyclades, but as they say, with experience comes wisdom and now, we will take the peaceful, more civilized, path any day.

Sailing in Santorini

18 May 2016 | Thira, Greece
Santorini, officially known as Thira, is what remains after a giant volcanic eruption that destroyed a single island and created the current geological caldera. Perhaps the most breathtaking of Greece's Cyclades Islands, Thira is a crescent-moon landmass encircling the rim of the crater now filled with water. The huge lagoon measures roughly seven miles long, four miles wide, and is surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides, nearly 1,000-feet high. From a distance, the white villages clinging to the bluffs resemble snow-capped mountains.

The depth of the caldera, at 1,300 feet, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay. An amusing contrast to the deep anchorage is the fact that the only yacht marina in Santorini is actually too shallow to accommodate Berkeley East's depth. These are the reasons why we never sailed BE to Santorini before.

We also continually heard that Santorini was a place best experienced from the land. So we went by ferry last year ("Saving the best for almost last" blog, 6/15/2015), and had a fabulous week on the beautiful island. The views were stunning and, while we agree that it was truly extraordinary to spend time in a five-star hotel on the precipices overlooking this natural wonder, we couldn't help but imagine sailing BE through the caldera below.

So, after much research, we found potential anchorages on Santorini's southern beaches, and the possibility of taking a mooring on the edge of the bay. That was all it took for us to set sail to Santorini. When we arrived at the northern end of the caldera, we raised the sails on Berkeley East and proceeded to cruise around every part of the island from Oia, to Fira, past the outer islands and around the south end to Thira's famous Red Beach.

Our self-guided tour was fantastic. But unfortunately, our planned anchorages had a three-foot swell rolling into them, the moorings were too close to shore, and the shallowest protected anchorage was over 200 feet deep. So it was back through the caldera in search of overnight shelter, which we found on a day-tripper mooring that was vacated after sunset until noon the next day.

In addition to seeing this remarkable island from a different perspective, our time in Santorini provided us the perfect opportunity to learn about flying a drone (Larry's birthday present) from a boat under sail in 10 - 15 knots of winds.

First, launching the drone from a moving sailboat is quite challenging, as there are masts and lines and poles in the way so you cannot simply set it on the deck and let it go. One person has to hold the drone steady until there is enough forward momentum and velocity to fly away quickly.

Landing is even trickier. Trying to match the speed of the boat while the drone moves around with the wind gusting is impossible. Once the drone is inside the boat's rigging, any mistake could be catastrophic. We know this from experience when the wind increased the drone's already rapid speed, sending it toward the lifelines. A skillful catch averted a disastrous crash landing.

Since then, we have learned that the pilot (Larry) tries to fly the drone parallel to the boat while matching the boat's speed, then moves the drone toward the boat (from the leeward side) so the flight crew (Mary) can grab the drone by the legs. This requires exact timing, as the flight crew (Mary) is also steering Berkeley East away from land and other boats, and has to leave the helm to chase the drone up and down the deck in order to catch it. We also discovered that landing against the wind allows any unexpected gusts to push the drone away from the boat, rather than into the rigging. So far the drone hasn't collided into Berkeley East, and Mary still has all of her fingers.

We couldn't resist trying to take some drone videos while sailing in Santorini. Upon viewing the results, we learned several more lessons. Lesson One: Flying the drone by the boat, from stern to bow faster then we are sailing, makes it look like BE is sailing backwards. A nice trick but not what we were after. Lesson Two: It is easy to sail the boat into the drone when the drone gets in front of the boat, and behind the sails, where you can't see it. Lesson Three: Videoing a moving target from a moving vehicle is a lot harder than it looks. The pilot/cameraman needs a lot more practice!


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