Adventures of Berkeley East

29 August 2016 | Opatija, Croatia
25 August 2016 | Biograd, Croatia
19 August 2016 | Dalmatia, Croatia
04 August 2016 | Dugi Otak, Croatia
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

Opatija, the Croatian Riviera

29 August 2016 | Opatija, Croatia
We had just come off some rough weather with exciting maneuvers, so motoring north in flat seas was almost a welcome change. The temperature was cooling. There were fewer boats out. In just days it would be September and the crazy August crowds would be gone.

We had a couple of weeks between guests, so we decided to go as far north in Croatia as we could, and then ride the north winds south again. Our goal was Opatija, one of Croatia's most popular holiday destinations and a gateway to the Istria Peninsula. In the late 19th century, the small village of Opatija was transformed into one of the classiest resorts in the Mediterranean where the wealthy elite of Eastern Europe (the Habsburg Empire, Scandinavia and Russia) played. Dukes, barons and other aristocrats built opulent villas on the coast, which stretches 25 miles along the shores of the Kvarner Gulf in what is now northern Croatia.

Accommodations for a yacht the size of Berkeley East are limited in Opatija, so we were surprised when the marinara called over the radio telling us to back into the marina and side tie to the large dock.

Side tie?

We have been in the Mediterranean for seven years and have side tied in marinas a total of three times including Opatija, (albeit once was sort of by accident). Being from California, side tie was all we knew until we came to the Med where yachts, naturally, Med moor. When Med mooring, you either drop your anchor, or pick up mooring lines and tie them to the bow of the boat, back in between other boats into spaces that are typically half the width of BE and tie the stern of the boat to the dock. This allows the marinas to quarter more boats. Side ties are much simpler, do not require a pasarelle and provide more privacy. And this dock also had a great view. Opatija was already one of our favorite places in Croatia and we hadn't even left the boat.

We have been to the Italian Riviera, the French Riviera, even the Greek Riviera, so we were anxious to see what has been dubbed the Croatian Riviera. While nobles may still visit Opatija, the area is now a cross between classic villas, old-world charm, chic modern clubs, and child-friendly swimming areas. In short, Opatija has something for everyone. And while the term "Riviera" has become synonymous with the rich and famous, the actual definition of the word is "popular coastal vacation area," and that, Opatija was, even with September nearly upon us.

One of the most recognized symbols of Opatija is the Maiden with the seagull, a statue by Zvonko Car. A young girl, clad in a light shift, her palm outstretched to a fluttering seagull, embodies life on the Adriatic - light, breezy, carefree, with a hint of elegance.

The Maiden stands along the Lungomare, the coastal promenade which links the towns surrounding Opatija where Germans, Slovenians, Austrians, Croatians and the odd American cruisers, from a boat called Berkeley East, strolled both day and night.

Decisions, decisions

25 August 2016 | Biograd, Croatia
We had been sitting out a Bora in Murter, Croatia when we needed to decide if conditions were good enough to move, and dock, Berkeley East. France has the Mistral, Greece has the Meltimi, and Croatia has the Bora; strong north winds that can make the cruising life uncomfortable. For three days, we had sustained winds over 25 knots and gusts into the high 40's. Our Croatian courtesy flag nearly disintegrated.

We decided to go to the island of Murter because it was new to us, further north, and protected from the Bora. We did not realize that the seabed was rock, so while the holding was good, BE's anchor chain drug along the hard surface, the choice of anchorages wasn't ideal. The bay we were in is considered to have one of Croatia most beautiful beaches and since the island is connected to the mainland by a short bridge, it is very popular. We could not see the beach because it was August and the shore was packed with vacationers in caravans, but the sunsets were fantastic.

We typically do not dock Berkeley East when there is strong wind, but we only had two days to get BE's broken vang repaired, or we would have to wait nearly a week. We decided to move the 12 miles to Biograd Na Moru, and hold on the decision about docking until we saw the circumstances at the marina. That said, we admit that once we have made a decision to do something, we are very reluctant about changing the plan, so the writing was on the wall that we would likely dock regardless of the conditions. The charter boats were out in force, as were the red submarines, a popular tourist attraction in Croatia.

Upon arriving at the marina, we decided to go inside the breakwater, but we agreed that if the winds were a concern, we would decide to nix the docking and anchor out. As we called for assistance, a man waved us down a small finger of the marina. It was very narrow and we didn't like it, but decided to give it a go, hoping the wind gusts would subside long enough for us to get BE tied up. As we got closer, the marinara asked our depth. When we told him it was 2.5 meters, he made a face and told us to turn around and go back to the end of the pontoon. As we began the turn, a huge gust caught BE and sent her sliding sideways down the fairway. Imagine your car skidding on ice, but your car is 54-feet long, you have one car length of space in the front, and one car length in the back, before concrete walls, and a pile of rocks at the end of the road. Berkeley East bucked and swayed, the wind had her and she did not want to turn. We tossed a line to the dockhand and said, "we've decided to just side tie here."

Once we caught our breath, we got to the business at hand and called for the repairman. BE was sitting perfectly still, very comfy after heeling for the past days of Bora wind at anchor. We decided to not check the depth because at that point, we really didn't want to know if Berkeley East's keel was grounded. The repair went quickly and now we had to decide when to leave. The wind was forecast to come down a bit the following day, and even more the next. But we were concerned that BE might be boxed in by other boats, making the required backing down the finger impossible. As we decided to wait to decide, we watched boat after boat come into the marina and have similar challenges docking in the wind. No one got hurt which is always considered a success.

Then came "Perle," a charter boat with an out-of-control captain. We've seen bad boat driving before, and we've heard crews screaming at each other before, but we have never, ever seen anything like this. We watched in horror as the boat hit the concrete dock on one side, then the other. Everyone was on their decks holding fenders as Perle raced toward, first one boat, then another, with the captain leaving the wheel and the throttle in forward, screaming at the dock hand, and then at a woman on the boat with such rage that we were certain someone was going to die. The captain was crazed, the woman was hysterical, and we stood stunned and helpless. Finally the wind swung Perle close enough for the woman to hand a line to someone on the dock and the boat came to rest facing Berkeley East. The wind seemed to quiet then, all we could hear was the woman sobbing. We don't know what happened on that boat to cause such severe emotions. Cruising can be extremely challenging and one bad decision can quickly turn living the dream into enduring a nightmare.

Over dinner we tried to decide when to leave and we finally decided to look at the weather forecast in the morning. In the morning, we decided to see if the wind calmed at noon as forecast. And when the boat behind us left, we decided to go.

The plan was to spring BE's bow off the dock to get her stern out far enough to clear a powerboat that was in the path, back down the fairway into the main channel and power out the marina entrance. The springing off went well and clearing the powerboat came off without a hitch. Then a gust caught Berkeley East and sent her sideways. Even in the best conditions, it is impossible to see and hear everything, and everyone, on a boat BE's size. A long time ago, we decided to use headsets so we can talk quietly and calmly to each other, with one of us driving, the other one directing. "Forward, forward, forward!!! Reverse, reverse, reverse!!!! Port!!!! Starboard!!!! Rock, rocks, rocks!!!!!!! Tuuuuuurn!!! Nowwww!!!!"

We didn't look back to see if the people in the marina had looks of terror on their faces thinking we had nearly stuffed up our exit, or if they were nodding in admiration at a well-planned, perfectly-executed departure. We decided to go with the latter.

What to do with eight days in Croatia

19 August 2016 | Dalmatia, Croatia
We were pretty excited when we heard that our niece, Moriah, wanted to visit us on Berkeley East in Croatia. She had sailed with us on BE in the Caribbean, and also aboard a charter boat in Sydney Harbour when she was just three years old. But now she is an adult, in college, and surely has better things to do than vacation with her aunt and uncle. Then again, what smart 20-year-old wouldn't want a holiday on a beautiful yacht in exotic Croatia with awesome, fun, young-at-heart people like us?

We often sail Berkeley East, or motor, 50+ miles a day just to get to a desired port. But when we have guests on board, we like to slow down and show them as much of the country as possible during their stay. So rather than traveling north to explore new territory, we made a cruising plan to return to some of our favorite places in Croatia while Moriah, Tim and Teresa were with us. It is impossible to see everything with only eight days in a country as large as Croatia, so we focused on the Central Dalmatia region.

Since they had all been on BE before, we knew they were seaworthy and up to the challenges of two stops per day in order to cover the necessary miles. Tim and Teresa joined us in Greece just last year (Blog update - "You know you're relaxed when...") so they even remembered the boat and the routine. Luckily, the weather was perfect to move a lot.

Before their arrival in Split, we got Berkeley East ready to accommodate three additional people. After living on BE for nearly 10 years, we have managed to use every inch of her 54 feet, so there was a lot of moving, shifting and hiding of gear. It's not difficult given BE's massive storage capacity, the hard part is remembering where we put things when we need them later. We also did the provisioning, making sure we bought catsup for Moriah, as we remember very clearly that without catsup in Australia, she would not eat, which in turn made her very cranky. But luckily, her eating habits have improved and she enjoys trying new things. She even learned how to debone a fish.

First stop on "Mary and Larry's Excellent Eight-Day Croatian Adventure" was the famous beach, Zlatni rat (Golden Cape) on the island of Brac. The stark white peninsula with a backdrop of dark green pines made for some great drone pictures. The number of people on the beach proves that it is one of the most popular spots in Croatia.

Moriah began her quest for the perfect "jumping off the boat" photo, relieving each of us, one by one, of our photographer status. The anchorage was deep, and exposed to the weather, so we found a spot on Hvar for the night.

In the morning we headed to Klemmet, where we could anchor Berkeley East, hike over the hill and take a water taxi to Hvar Town. In high season (which this was) the harbor at Hvar Town is packed with charter boats, super yachts, day-trippers and water taxis creating constant chaos. The town is equally wild and bursting at the seams with vacationers in cafes and trendy bars. We walked up to the fort to take in the view and fly the drone over land for a change.

On day three the wind came up and we did what sailors do, we went where the wind would take us, the island of Vis. Otok (island) Vis is the largest, most westerly island in Croatia and has been inhabited for thousands of years. During the second world war it was a main military base and until 1989, foreigners were not allowed to land on Vis, or even navigate within 300 miles of the shore. These restrictions, and the island's location, it seems, have helped Vis retain a more relaxed, less touristy atmosphere. We spent the night on the town dock and explored the two settlements of Vis Town and Kut.

The photo does not do this local favorite dish, black cuttlefish risotto, justice. It was excellent, as was the traditional konoba (restaurant) atmosphere.

While Moriah isn't old enough to drink in the states, the legal drinking age is only 18 in Croatia, so she tried the local wines.

From Vis we were off to Solta, with the drone in hot pursuit. The wind made for an exciting flight and catch, with a few moments when we thought perhaps we would not get the drone back on board.


A lunch stop for swimming and more flying, then it was into Sesula for the night.

Sesula is a long, narrow inlet with mooring balls that belong to restaurants. As long as you eat at the restaurant, you can use the mooring balls. Unfortunately, one chartered catamaran wasn't with the program, tried to anchor and tie to shore, and ended up wrapping their line around one of the boat's props, which sent them drifting into BE. So after some kayaking, our guests got to experience the joy of fending off another boat, which was good, we didn't want them to think everything is always cocktails and sunsets.

Day five of "Mary and Larry's Excellent Eight-Day Croatian Adventure" began with stop for kayaking and lunch at our own private island.

It was difficult to leave such a beautiful place, but our cruising route called for BE to navigate bridges and power lines, up the river to the Kyrk National Park for a visit to the waterfalls and another drone flight over land, and water. Just as we finished our second flight, a park employee came up requesting our permit. When we told her we didn't have one, she said we could not fly and urged us to go to town, get a permit and come back later. We think she wanted to be in a drone video.

Look closely at the center of the picture to see the drone hovering over the water.

A dinghy ride to our favorite riverside restaurant for scallops and clams, then it was off again, to Tijet for the night.

Day seven was a full day of sailing, and flying, to Dvrenik, where we introduced Moriah to Cava Sangria and chilled one last evening before having to go into the marina.

And the final stop was Trogir, a beautiful little town on the mainland, just six miles from the airport for an early morning departure.

Eight days in Croatia, the Berkeley East tour of some of Mary and Larry's favorite places.
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
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Created 4 May 2009
6 Photos
Created 22 April 2009
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24 Photos
Created 19 April 2009
Pictures from our trip to Los Testigos, Venezuela - March 2009
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Created 11 April 2009
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Created 28 March 2009
Pics form the 2008 Caribbean 1500
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Created 26 November 2008
Octopuses Garden Highborne, Exuma Cay, Bahamas
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Created 22 May 2008
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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)
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Created 28 January 2008
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Created 23 December 2007
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Created 21 November 2007
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Created 5 September 2007
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Created 28 August 2007
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Created 28 August 2007
6 Photos
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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