Adventures of Berkeley East

07 September 2014 | Ayvalik Archipelago, Turkey
01 September 2014 | Bozcaada
24 August 2014 | Black Sea, Turkey
19 August 2014 | Istanbul, Turkey
21 July 2014 | Istanbul, Turkey & Lake Norman, North Carolina
11 July 2014 | Sea of Marmara, Turkey
06 July 2014 | Canakkale, Turkey
01 July 2014 | Limnos, Greece
24 June 2014 | Chalkidiki, Greece
21 June 2014 | Mt. Olympus, Greece
11 June 2014 | Nothern Sporades Greece
02 June 2014 | Volos, Greece
01 June 2014 | Northern Sporades Greece
18 May 2014 | Chios, Greece
16 May 2014 | Samos & Ikaria Greece
11 May 2014 | Didyma, Priene
10 May 2014 | D-Marin Didim, Turkey
10 May 2014 | D-Marin Didim, Turkey
31 October 2013 | Didim, Turkey

The Homecoming

21 October 2021

Berkeley East first arrived in Port Everglades, Florida in December of 2006. She was born at Queen Long Marine, in Kaohsiung Taiwan, put on a freighter, and shipped to Fort Lauderdale where we jumped aboard our new Hylas 54, and began what we thought would be a two-year cruising adventure.

Nearly 15 years later, after sailing more than 50,000 miles in the US, Caribbean and Mediterranean, we met BE in Port Everglades once again, as she came home from her adopted motherland country, Italy. Three weeks prior, we had put Berkeley East on the BBC Scandanavia cargo ship in Genoa for the long trip across the Atlantic. At this point, Berkeley East has still spent more time in Italy than any other country, including the United States. But that was about to change.

There was a bittersweet moment when we decided to ship Berkeley East back to the US. It was definitely time for BE, and her crew, to move on, but the impact of cruising in the Med for 10 seasons was profound, and will forever be some of the best experiences of our lives

After flying back to North Carolina, we waited anxiously as the BBC Scandanavia carried BE along the Ligurian Sea, through the Gulf de Leon, the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar and across the Atlantic Ocean. We tracked the ship whenever it was in satellite range, the weather was intense.

As the days ticked by, we busied ourselves making plans for BE once she arrived stateside. New insurance was required, dockage was needed, there was much work to be done, so a haul date was necessary. We had thought all these things to be simple tasks, solved with a few phone calls (finally, no translation required), but over the years, we have learned that nothing is simple when it comes to boats. There would still be 10 days of "official" hurricane season when Berkeley East entered US waters, so obtaining an insurance policy was extremely complicated. The Fort Lauderdale Boat Show was just a week away, which meant finding a dock for Berkeley East was very difficult, especially given the shallow waters and fixed bridges throughout the area that cannot accommodate BE's depth, or mast height. And, with the start of the winter cruising season just around the corner, the shipyards were full of boats prepping for trips to the Caribbean. The timing was challenging.

As the Scandanavia was within range, we drove the 750 miles from Lake Norman to Fort Lauderdale to await BE's arrival. The shipping company gave an estimated delivery date and advised not to make travel arrangements more than three days before final confirmation, in case of delays, or even rerouting. We had recently heard the story of a yacht on a ship bound for Seattle, WA that was offloaded, unexpectedly, in Mexico; we thought Mexico would be a long drive. Launch dates and times are typically provided one to two days in advance, and about eight hours into our 12-hour drive to Port Everglades, we received notice that Berkeley East would be discharged from the BBC Scandanavia in two days at 11:30 am, in Florida, not Mexico; we were relieved. And with the early time slot, we felt like we had won the lottery, as we have a friend whose boat was once unloaded from a ship in Port Everglades at 2:00 am.

When we first picked up Berkeley East in Port Everglades, in 2006, we walked into the port and right onto the freighter to unpack BE. In 2021, we were taken by tender to the BBC Scandanavia, to board Berkeley East from the water. We assumed security was the reason for the different procedures. As we approached the ship, Berkeley East was already in the slings and being lifted by the crane. We were shocked that BE was the first to be moved as she was smack between two boats forward and three large yachts aft. We sat on the tender, watching the show, until Berkeley East was floating.

Once we climbed aboard, the real excitement began. We knew the crew would be in a hurry to get the other boats off the ship, but we weren't prepared for their urgency, or carelessness. As we went below to turn on BE's systems, we felt the boat moving forward; the Scandanavia's crew was pulling Berkeley East to make room for another boat alongside. But the wind was blowing BE into the ship, fenders were popping away, we had to push Berkeley East's 37 tons away from the ship to keep from scraping BE's hull along the rusty bucket, her mast dangerously close to colliding with the Scandanavia's crane.

Berkeley East had made it 5,000 miles aboard the BBC Scandanavia, fairly unscaved, we wondered if we could get her off without damage. We quickly started BE's engine, the Load Master tossed us our keys and we pushed off as hard as we could.

Once Berkeley East was free from the BBC Scandanavia, we were able to calm our nerves, and realize that BE was actually back in the United States, in Ft Lauderdale, where it all began 15 years ago; The Adventures of Berkeley East (and crew). We navigated up the intercoastal, calling for bridge openings, in awe of the number of boats that we saw (and the number of real American flags), the passengers waving and smiling as if they knew Berkeley East had just arrived home after many years away. An hour later, we docked BE behind one of the thousands of Florida homes with docks, where we started preparing her for her next adventure.

Our ship came in!

05 October 2021 | Genoa, Italy

This phrase typically refers to becoming wealthy or successful, so it might seem strange, in a declining economy during a pandemic, that "our ship came in" but it literally did. The BBC Scandanavia docked in Genoa just for us, or more specifically, for Berkeley East.

Most people would naturally assume that when we announced BE would be traveling back to the United States, we would sail her across the Atlantic, as we did when she came to the Mediterranean 11 years ago. And that makes sense given it was always our plan.

But as we began the discussion this summer, we pondered the pros and cons of sailing versus shipping, and giving Berkeley East a ride on a cargo vessel seemed the best option, simply due to our desire to make things happen quickly. With sailing, the planning, prep and execution would be a near two-year endeavor, while transporting would have BE in Florida by November.

With the decision made, we started the search for a yacht transport company and quickly found that the real trick was finding one that actually had a ship available and a committed schedule. It is common practice for transport companies to book yacht space before knowing when, or on what ship, the yacht would be moved. They can require up to 70 percent of the contract amount up front, change the date on a whim, for up to 30 days, and often a ship is never found. And in today's world, cargo ships prefer to carry containers, as they take up less space, and garner more profit, than yachts.

The deck of the BBC Scandanavia had been booked in advance for mega power boats going to the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, and we were able to snag the last open slot for Berkeley East. With the carrier issue solved, we began the huge undertaking of preparing Berkeley East for her excursion across the Atlantic. In addition to our typical winter works, BE's sails, solar panels, bimini, dodger, all had to be removed and housed onboard BE (not a simple task given that Berkeley East's cabin and deck lockers were already full). Anything that could possibly fly off the rig or deck needed to be stowed or secured, cabin bits were buttoned up so nothing would fall, or bang, and cause damage to the interior. Fuel and water tanks needed to be as empty as possible, batteries were disconnected. In the end, Berkeley East's cabin was jam packed, her exterior was bare.

We spent two weeks working to meet the deadline, pausing for breaks to watch the cruise ships being built across the harbor, ending the day enjoying the activity on the dock behind BE. Loud, lively Italians sharing kisses and hugs, at family dinners and celebratory events. There was little-to-no evidence in Genoa that the Delta variant was creating havoc around the world.

When the BBC Scandanavia arrived, we were ready. And when the day came to move Berkeley East the five miles to the freighter, Northwestern Italy was beginning what would become two days of record-breaking rainfall, some areas receiving more than 30 inches in 12 hours. Thunder, lightning, torrential downpour, and 25+ knot winds were the conditions.

We've moved BE in the rain before, but never without a dodger and bimini; the drops felt like tiny pellets of ice stinging our faces and eyeballs, the clouds shrouded our view all the way to water level, we crept along with eyes peeled for obstacles. Along the way, we had a close encounter with a 250-foot yacht that graciously stopped and let Berkeley East pass. We navigated carefully in rolling seas dodging huge pieces of debris washed down from the river in the storm. As we neared the Scadanavia, we were relieved the sky was clearing, but the movements of a 1,000-foot cargo ship blocked our path. News that BE's loading time had been delayed left us driving in circles for hours. This was not the type of new adventure that we had in mind.

Snapshot of Berkeley East's track going in circles waiting for the ship to be ready.

When Berkeley East was finally called alongside the ship, it was impressive to watch the crew take action; positioning slings, placing straps, calculating where to position BE in order to avoid collision with the ship's crane. At one point, there were 13 men on deck and two divers in the water working in sync, pulling lines, inching Berkeley East forward at the instruction of the load master. We were still aboard when Berkeley East was lifted, hovering above the water. We watched nervously as her 37 tons was maneuvered in tight quarters.

After several hours of assembling stands on which Berkeley East would rest, welding them to the ship, lashing BE down from her deck cleats, she was almost ready for her journey. There were two more boats to load onto the Scandanavia, but nighttime had fallen, so it would wait until morning. With luggage in tow, we said our goodbyes to BE and placed her in the capable hands of the crew of the BBC Scandanavia. In a few weeks, we will offload Berkeley East in Ft. Lauderdale and begin the process of putting her back together again.

We had one afternoon in Milan before flying home to North Carolina. The beautiful Italian city was buzzing with tourists. While the weather was wet and dreary, we enjoyed one last meal in Italy, strolled past the magnificent cathedral, found some styles only an Italian could pull off. Berkeley East may be leaving Italy for good, but her crew will definitely be coming back.

The Final Farewell

15 September 2021

Berkeley East and crew have said "arrivederci" to Italy more times than we can recall. Sometimes out of necessity, often in search of a different country, or new adventure. But throughout the past 11 years, BE continually returned to wonderful Italia. And this year was no exception. While the season was brief due to COVID, we cruised in Italy for more than half the summer.

But we can only go back to the same places so many times. And the pandemic brought changes to our cruising life in the Med. There were many, many, many more boats out this year, anchorages were overcrowded, time ashore was limited, land travel was challenging. As much as we love sitting on Berkeley East bobbing at anchor, listening to music and reminiscing over a glass of wine, we miss exploring unfamiliar locales, discovering different customs, having fresh experiences. We carefully weighed all our options and with COVID restrictions tightening again, we knew we did not want to be locked out of Europe, and away from BE, as we were in 2020. So, one day, while bobbing at anchor, listening to music and reminiscing over a glass of wine, we made the very complex decision for Berkeley East to say one final goodbye to Italy, and make the long trip back to the United States.

This "Farewell Tour" began in Positano, one of Italy's most beautiful towns, and wound north through popular islands, little-known anchorages and famed towns, as the weather dictated. It was September and the fall season was becoming apparent. Timing was important, so Berkeley East moved nearly every day, sometimes all day.

We chose our stops carefully, hopscotching between mainland Italy and the Tuscan Archipelago based on wind, waves, provisioning requirements and the need to offload rubbish. Most people do not truly appreciate the convenience of weekly neighborhood garbage pickup unless they have navigated small islands, on a sailboat, where finding trash receptacles is often like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Like any worthwhile activity, there is the good and the bad, and as much as cruising in Italy can be spectacular, it can also be difficult. While most of our stops on this leg of our journey, (Positano, Procida, Elba, Santa Margherita, Portofino) were excellent, Santa Marinella was, not so much. Although it seemed perfect for the forecasted conditions, Santa Marinella turned out to be a horrible choice for anchoring overnight. At 2 am we were rousted from our bed with horns and bright lights by the Guardia Finanza, the financial arm of the Italian Coast Guard. We had heard that they were targeting non-EU boats, but BE had avoided their scrutiny to that point this season. They searched our boat papers and passports, and after 45 minutes asked us to sign something written in Italian, smiled and said not to worry; right. A few hours later, we were awoken to the sound of crashing waves. The surf was rolling in, we were anchored in very shallow water and Berkeley East was being pushed towards shore. Luckily, BE has a very big, heavy anchor that held tight, but getting the spade onboard with waves breaking over Berkeley East's bow, at very short intervals, was extremely stressful. We happily said goodbye to Santa Marinella.

As we moved north through Elba, the third largest and one of the most visited islands in Italy, it was as if we had been transported to another country. The towns were filled to the brim with tourists speaking Dutch and German, apparently Elba has become a hotspot for Northern European holidays. Clearly, the island was not adhering to the new COVID restrictions in Italy, but the visitors were happy, the Italian shop and restaurant owners were thrilled with the business. All seemed right with the world.

Continuing on, there was a night in Porto Venere, lunch off Vernazza in Cinque Terre, and a few days at one of our most beloved Italian towns, Santa Margherita.

We have anchored off Santa Margherita many times, Berkeley East being the only, or one of few, boats on the hook. But as in many other anchorages this year, the boats have multiplied, and the small harbor of Santa Margherita was jammed. Most of the people were very polite in finding space for their vessels, but when one boat anchored too close to Berkeley East, we asked them to move. They eventually did, but only after flipping us off and screaming some profanity. In 15 years of cruising, we have never experienced that sort of aggression. Hopefully it was just one idiot and not the new normal.

We were relieved to see that boat, and most of the other boats, leave the following morning. And for the next days, the bay in Santa Margherita was as we remembered, calm and uncrowded. We made many trips to town, enjoyed meals ashore, long walks to Portofino, sitting on BE bobbing and reminiscing, savoring our last moments aboard Berkeley East in this beautiful country.

As we lifted BE's anchor, we said a final farewell to Santa Margherita and set a course for Genova (Genoa), where we would prepare Berkeley East for her voyage home.

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
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Created 2 August 2016
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Created 17 May 2013
Extra pictures for Croatia
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Created 5 September 2012
Venice June 2012
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Created 12 July 2012
Tuscany trip summer 2011
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Created 18 July 2011
Pictures from June 2011 - The Ligurian Coast of Italy
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Created 29 June 2011
Wardrick Wells - Exuma Land and Sea Park May 2009
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Pictures from our trip to Los Testigos, Venezuela - March 2009
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Pics form the 2008 Caribbean 1500
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Octopuses Garden – Highborne, Exuma Cay, Bahamas
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Created 22 May 2008
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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 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.
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Created 22 July 2007
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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.
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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