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

Donkeys, and other jackasses

09 August 2021

We made the 150-mile crossing from Menorca to Sardinia in calm conditions, under the guidance of a full moon. Rather than barreling into darkness (as is often the case with moving at night) Berkeley East bobbed along steadily, the only sounds being the hum of BE's engine, and the squawk from the VHF radio. An American warship announced live fire practice and urged all ships to maintain a safe distance, good advice, we wondered what a safe distance might be. A British chap hailed a 300-foot tanker and calmly asked the captain if he could see their boat, as their AIS showed a CPA (closest point of approach) of zero feet in 10 minutes. A French woman decided that channel 16 (the VHF emergency channel) was the perfect vehicle for showing off her singing skills, or possibly her imitation of a cat being strangled, it was hard to tell. There were burps and giggles, people get bored. As always with night passages, we appreciated the first glimmer of dawn.

We approached Sardinia on the northwest corner and wove Berkeley East through the Asinara National Park to a mooring off the island of Asinara, named for its large population of wild Albino donkeys.

In 1885 a quarantine health facility and prison were established on the island, and all residents were forced to move. While it was used as a prison camp during several wars, post-war periods saw the arrival of the greatest supporters of Italian terrorism, mafia, and organized crime. It is often called the Italian Alcatraz, as escaping from the island was quite impossible.

Until 1997, when the prison closed, Asinara's only human inhabitants were the prisoners and their keepers. For more than a century, nothing was built on the island, the beaches and ponds remained untouched, the animals lived free. Today, Asinara is uninhabited but for the donkeys, horses, mouflon, wild boar and some 50 different species of birds. One can visit via boat and explore the island by electric car, or bicycle. There is only one paved road, two bars/restaurants, and one shop selling local products like Donkey Soap, perfect for Christmas gifts.

We traveled from one end of the island to the other and learned what a challenge it is to keep an electric vehicle charged, the batteries fill very slowly. The island is riddled with remnants of the prison and homes from Roman times, the rest is rock, limestone and rustic foliage framed by crystal clear water.

We stayed on the mooring in Asinara for a few days, enjoying the quiet atmosphere, and the fresh bread brought to our boat each morning by our mooring guardian. The weather was disturbed from the south, and the sky literally rained mud. We renamed Berkeley East "Pig Pen" and moved on to the La Maddelena Archipelogo.

Lying at the southern end of the Straight of Bonifacio, the La Maddalena Archipelago is a cluster of seven islands, known as the seven sisters, accented by more than 50 tiny bits of rock and land. An Italian geomarine national park, La Maddalena encompasses more than 20,000 hectares of land and sea, along 112 miles of stunning granite coastline chiseled by severe winds and currents.

We had been to the archipelago twice before, and there were fond memories of Cala Garibaldi, a beautiful, unique inlet of artistic rock formations that create natural swimming pools. It was not as crowded as most of the coves in La Maddelana, perfect for relaxing and swimming. While there were some day boats, most would leave at night, creating a space for a magical evening, at least that is what we recalled.

If not for pictures and previous blog posts, we would seriously question our memories, as Garibaldi was none of what we remembered. The rock outcroppings were still amazing, but the boats had tripled in size, and numbers, the traffic through the anchorage was ridiculous, swimming was risky. Still, we sat on Berkeley East in Girabaldi, constantly astounded by the ginormous boats, the excessive speed, the recklessness, while keeping the chaos at a safe distance.

One of the newer trends in the world of yachting is the support, or shadow, vessel. This is a second ship to carry all the toys: speed boats, helicopters, sailboats, SUVs, submarines, jet skis, to name a few. Vessels Casa and Playa have taken this trend down from the mega-yacht realm to superyachts. Each boat is under 90' long, so this pair of superyachts are much easier to fit into small harbors. Casa is the primary vessel with three luxury cabins, while Playa follows along with the entertainment including a basketball court, wake-surfing boat, SUV and a 10' outside television (we watched the Olympics from across the harbor on Berkeley East).

Even with the increased crowds, La Maddalena was spectacular, but the archipelago lies just south of Corsica, where The Mistral reigns terror on small boats like Berkeley East. We have encountered The Mistral (which blows from southern France to the Northern Mediterranean) before, pinned down for days in winds that often exceed 50 knots. As the wind swirled, we moved from anchorage to anchorage down the east coast of Sardinia to find refuge. A freshly washed BE (scrubbed by the crew at anchor) quickly became coated in salt, as boats sped by sending waves crashing over Berkeley East's decks, dodger and bimini.

The bays were crowded with Italians on holiday. It appeared that the shortest distance between two points was always across Berkeley East's bow, or stern, so BE was in a nearly constant roll. While night clubs remained closed in Italy due to COVID, dancing prohibited, restaurants on shore buzzed into the wee hours of the morning. There was no doubt that we were back in Sardinia, in August, everything was fast and loud.

With a break in the wind, we made way for Olbia to check Berkeley East, and crew, into the country, and end our status as illegal aliens in Italia. While they welcomed the beautiful American yacht, the police insisted they could not stamp our passports. It is typical in Italy, that every port, every official, has their own set of rules and regulations which they apply as they wish. At our next landfall, the harbor master informed us that we should have been stamped in at our first check-in locale, Olbia, and we must wait for the next port. So, BE's motley crew is to remain merchant marines, in the country legally, but confined to the boat for the immediate future.
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