Adventures of Berkeley East

31 October 2019 | Barcelona, Spain
30 September 2019 | Mallorca, Spain
15 September 2019 | Sardinia, Italy
08 September 2019 | Pantelleria, Italy
31 August 2019 | Favignana, Italy
22 August 2019 | Vulcano, Italy
17 August 2019 | Charlotte, NC and Gaeta, Italy
12 July 2019
12 September 2018 | Cala del Core Ponza, Italy
22 August 2018 | North East Sardinia
13 August 2018 | Northern Sardinia, Italy
10 August 2018 | La Maddalenas, Sardinia Italy
30 July 2018 | South West Corsica, France
19 July 2018 | North West Corsica, France
12 July 2018 | Saint-Tropez, France
07 July 2018 | The French Riviera
25 June 2018 | Nice, France
22 June 2018 | Cap Ferrat, France
15 June 2018 | Lake Como, Italy
10 June 2018 | Bolgheri and Piedmonte, Italy

Navigating the Tuscan Archipelago

23 May 2018 | Italy

Whenever we move Berkeley East from place to place, to anchorages or marinas, on the mainland or around islands, there are many things to consider. Distance, weather, depth, protection, navigational hazards are just a few. Each passage, regardless of how short, is carefully planned prior to departure. And while we have cruising guides and electronic charts, unexpected challenges arise quickly on a boat so there is nothing more reliable than a good set of eyes monitoring the situation.

Lying between the French island of Corsica and the Italian Tuscan coast, the Tuscan Archipelago contains seven little gems of earth, each unique in character and history. The islands of Pianosa, Montecristo, Gorgana, Giglio, Giannutri, Elba and Capraia are all protected lands as part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park. Local legend says that when Venus rose from the waves, seven precious stones fell from her tiara creating these seven majestic spaces. The fable is poetic, as are the islands and their graceful, romantic beauty.

Because it is a designated national park, the archipelago presents a tedious navigational process for boats like Berkeley East. In order to help preserve the environment, vessels are required to use specific channels that wander sometimes miles out of the way, and take hours longer, rather than following the more direct, shorter path between islands. While frustrating, it is understandable, so we wove BE through the marked zones keeping within park regulations.

We had not heard much about the Italian island of Giglio, but for the tragedy of the Costa Concordia. In 2012 the 952-foot cruise liner ran aground just off Giglio's shore and came to rest at the entrance of the main harbor. She carried 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew; many souls were lost that night. Once an isolated utopia that attracted birdwatchers and hikers, Giglio immediately became the epicenter of the largest-ever maritime salvage operation in the world, and a site of "disaster tourism" with the curious coming to take photos of the mammoth sprawled on the rocks. It took three years to right and remove the enormous ship; many more to detach and take away all the salvage implements put in place for the operation.

As we approached the island, we could easily see the rocks that the cruise ship hit. We gave them a wide berth and found a spot to anchor Berkeley East in the beautiful bay next to the port. While we had seen the photos, it was still difficult to imagine the 114,000-ton vessel blocking the entrance to this peaceful harbor, and impossible fathom that a careless navigational error caused this paradise to become a source of such pain and sorrow.

The harbor was a bevy of activity; a ferry full of cars, buses, trucks and people had just arrived. Giglio typically has about 1,000 residents, but the population swells in the summer months, so much so that the number of automobiles allowed in from the mainland are limited. The local bus was packed with people from all over the world, but the walk around Giglio Castello, the medieval village, was oddly quiet.

Even more forsaken, the tiny island of Giannutri was a ghost island this time of year, but for the birds. Often referred to as Isola dei Gabbiani (Seagull Island), Giannutri is a nesting site for a variety of migratory birds. They were definitely nesting, and swarming, and pooping on Berkeley East and the dinghy.

They were also attacking the drone, which the raucous fowl clearly saw as either a potential mating partner, or more likely a threat. A bit of creative flying, through the pack of squawking birds, was needed to get the drone back on BE feather free.

The island is largely privately owned, with no cars and no major tourism. People come for the nature, and the seclusion. In summer, the birds are replaced by an exclusive group of wealthy Italians. Our guidebook suggested that if one were fortunate enough to secure a rare holiday rental, they should bring their own essentials like sunscreen and water.

Our final stop in the Tuscan Archipelago was the island of Elba. The weather forecast had not predicted rain, but there we were steering BE to dodge constant ferry traffic, in a steady downpour, as we entered the main harbor. Elba is the biggest island in the archipelago, and the third largest island in Italy surpassed in size by Sardinia and Sicily. It is famous around the world for harboring French Emperor Napoleon in 1814 during his exile, but Elba's roots go back to ancient times.

Berkeley East had circumnavigated Elba before, so this trip was about us exploring the island's interior. But the heavy precipitation and seemingly endless black clouds shrouding the island made hiking a less-than-desirable plan.

So we waited, for days, watching ferries come and go. During one six-hour period, we counted 30 different ferries traverse through the harbor; Elba is not only one of the largest Italian island, but also one of the busiest.

When the skies finally cleared, our time was up so we had to abandon the idea of discovering Elba on foot. As we returned to BE from a quick meal on shore, we came across a cruise ship being towed off the dock by a small tugboat. But once clear, the cruise ship continued to back up before the line attached to the small boat was released, a questionable move that nearly caused the little vessel to capsize. Fortunately, crisis was ultimately averted.

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)
Street art from our 2019 stay in Barcelona
25 Photos
Created 7 November 2019
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


July 2019- Return to Gaeta, Italy

August 2019 - Gaeta to Sicily, Tunisia and Sardinia

September 2019 - The Spanish Balearic Islands

October 2019 -Barcelona Spain

November 2019 - Charlotte, NC