Adventures of Berkeley East

05 June 2022
30 January 2022 | Ft. Lauderdale, FL
16 November 2021
21 October 2021
05 October 2021 | Genoa, Italy
15 September 2021
26 July 2021 | Caprera, Italy
22 July 2021 | Balearic Islands, Spain
01 July 2021
09 August 2020
30 March 2020 | Lake Norman, NC
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

594 Days

01 July 2021

That's how long it had been since we left Berkeley East in Marina Port Vell, Barcelona Spain, 594 days. By far the longest we had not seen our boat since we launched her almost 15 years ago. Needless to say, we were elated to hear that Spain would be welcoming COVID vaccinated Americans "sometime" in June, 2021. We made airline reservations for every week of the month, just to be certain that we could get to Spain when it reopened. Like everyone else in the world, we were ready to get back to normal.

During our 594-day cruising hiatus, we managed to keep busy at our lake home in North Carolina. While we didn't enjoy the pandemic, or all its restrictions, we could not complain about our lockdown location. We saw beautiful sunsets from our back porch nearly every evening, took thousands of photos as we watched the fiery ball drop from view, and felt blessed, each day, to be safe and healthy.

But managing BE's care and maintenance from such a long distance, for such a long time, was a bit stressful. While we were away, Berkeley East floated for ten months with a panorama of the marina and Barceloneta. When the pandemic lingered on, she was hauled onto land to a perch overlooking the harbor for another eight months. As the days ticked away, so did the time on BE's VAT (Value Added Tax) clock. Efforts to acquire an extension to the allowed 18 months failed, so Berkeley East was splashed, repairs were made, sails installed, and BE went on a weeklong jaunt to Gibraltar, under the guidance of a hired captain and crew, in order to avoid the 21% importation tax. Upon her return, Marina Port Vell welcomed BE back to a berth with an even better view, where she bobbed gently for nearly three months, awaiting our arrival.

We scheduled our travel so we would not have to transit through multiple countries; a simple two-hour flight to Miami, with plenty of time to connect for a direct overnight into Barcelona. What we didn't plan for was the Miami Airport closure due to weather, our plane circling for hours, being redirected for fuel. By the time we landed in Miami, our four-hour layover had been exhausted and we had to sprint through the airport's terminals with a mask on. We had wondered how closely the airlines, and Spain, would follow the set COVID restrictions. Prior to our flight, we had to register online and upload proof of an acceptable vaccine in order to receive a QR code for Spain. This code, along with our vaccination cards, were inspected on our departure from the Charlotte airport, and upon arrival in Barcelona. Since we had all the required documents, our entry into the EU went without incident. We were happy to finally be back in Spain, albeit without any of our checked bags, which were still in Miami.

We had plenty of clothes on Berkeley East, but our missing bags were full of boat parts that we had spent the past 18 months collecting, thousands of dollars in specialty boat bits, and toilet paper, that we could not get in Spain. We filed the lost baggage paperwork, crossed our fingers and headed off to see BE.

At first glance, Berkeley East looked good, but for a few signs of sitting in the elements for 594 days. Her topside was freshly washed, and the cabin passed the smell test; we were excited. While tired from our travels, we had renewed energy, and dove right in.

Given that much work had already been done on Berkeley East, we assumed our jobs would be simple; a little unpacking, a little organizing, a little cleaning and we'd be off. We quickly learned that would not be the case. While our hired captain and crew were excellent, it appeared they had moved just about everything while taking BE to Gibraltar. It is understandable that they would need to familiarize themselves with the boat, even logical that some things would need to be relocated for their trip, but we found ourselves in what seemed like and endless game of hide and seek; what they hid, we sought, and eventually found, in the most bizarre places. Refrigerator pieces were tucked under a cushion in the workroom, not at all visible to the naked eye. Propane parts required for a repair were buried so deep in a cabinet, we had to take the cabinet apart to get them out. We spent days taking everything out of every drawer, every cabinet, every locker, and putting things back where they belong. As it turns out, our baggage delay was good, as it gave us time to make room.

During Berkeley East's holiday to Gibraltar, her tender was left behind and forgotten, dirty and deflated, in storage at another boat yard. While it wasn't far, retrieving it was a challenge. Ordinarily, we would welcome a nice dinghy ride around the harbor, but the tender's engine was solidly mounted on BE's rail, not on the tender. At 90 pounds, the outboard was too heavy to carry far and too big to roll in our grocery buggy. So, we decided to row the tender from the boat yard to the marina, it was just a mile. How hard could it be? The dinghy was launched with a forklift, we climbed down the wall, and pushed off for a little fun and exercise. We hadn't anticipated the heavy ferry and fishing boat traffic, or the headwind, or the waves. Still, all was good until one of the tender's ore locks broke, leaving us paddling, more than rowing, the last half mile. While the trip took much longer than planned, we made it back before dark. A little air and a lot of scrubbing, and BE's tender was good as new. And it was a good thing that we did not try to use the outboard engine because it ended up needing several days in a repair shop.

Whenever we took breaks, we noticed how quiet and empty the shore was. An area that was typically buzzing with crowded restaurants, tourists, musicians, street vendors, was eerily still. The popular restaurant at the end of our dock looked abandoned. And the marina, which is a super yacht mecca, had very few of the massive ships on their docks.

Walks around the city unveiled many signs of the COVID-19 impact; streets and alleys empty, shops and restaurants permanently shuttered, rental bikes sitting as if waiting for riders. Barcelona's most famous path, La Rambla, always packed with tourists, was wide open. Mercado de La Boqueria, usually shoulder to shoulder, had just a spattering of pedestrians, but the produce and products were as spectacular as ever. While we had only encountered one American since our arrival, it appeared that there was an invasion of American brands in Barcelona during the pandemic, with Starbucks and Dunkin on many a corner.

But day by day, things started picking up and Barcelona began to hum again. Between searching for tools, testing systems, making repairs, swearing like drunken sailors, we explored Barcelona once again. We were happy to see many of our favorite restaurants open, with limited seating and shortened hours, but they were in business after months of being closed. There was still a mask mandate outdoors, which most people adhered to, even if it was worn more as neck accessory than a face mask.

Founded in 1969, Can Paixano aka La Xampanyeria, one of Barcelona's most beloved cava bars, captured our hearts (and stomachs) years ago. While there are now plexiglass dividers separating fewer patrons, the cava and sausage sandwiches are the same. And it is still a great provisioning stop, Berkeley East is now stocked with cava.

Santa Maria del Mar, is a church in the Ribera district of Barcelona built between 1329 and 1383, and a good example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Modern buildings now surround the church, including an excellent wine bar with a view of the church. While there were more people there, it appeared that most were locals out for the evening.

During week two, we began our provisioning runs, on foot, to small markets, desperately missing Costco delivery. And then, just like that, after 594 days away, and 14 days of prep, Berkeley East was ready to leave Barcelona once again. The question was: we're we? 594 days without moving BE or dealing with her many requirements. We wondered how much we would remember, what we might have forgotten. Is it like riding a bike?

The Pre-pandemic 2020 plan was to have taken BE to London and the Baltic, then this year, 2021, Berkeley East would have crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Post-pandemic thoughts are that we need to get our cruising legs again, and BE needs some time at sea. So back to Greece we go. Unless COVID has a resurgence, or we change our minds on the way.
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