Adventures of Berkeley East

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
12 July 2019
12 September 2018 | Cala del Core Ponza, Italy

Time to retire

16 November 2021

Every year, for the past 15 years, we've asked ourselves where we should cruise next? We would spend all winter researching, discussing, and planning, knowing full well that everything could change once we got back to Berkeley East. Still, we enjoyed the process. But with BE's return to the United States, our winter routine will be changing significantly.

During the summer, as we were sitting on Berkeley East reminiscing over a glass of wine, while bobbing at anchor off Italy's Amalfi Coast, we made the call to ship Berkeley East back to the US. We also concluded that it was time for us to retire from cruising, so we would put BE on the market once she was stateside. We were surprised to hear ourselves say we were ready to end our status as "boat people", perhaps it was the wine talking, but more likely it was the nagging voices in our heads telling us to do different things. Berkeley East and our adventures together will always be in our hearts, part of our souls, but the cruising lifestyle is consuming, leaving little time to explore the many other possibilities that life has to offer. And now that we are at official retirement age, it's time for us to relax a bit.

So, after we picked BE up in Port Everglades, Florida (from her trip across the Atlantic on the BBC Scandanavia), we began the painstaking process of getting her ready to sell. It is much like moving out of a home after 15 years, with one difference, we emptied the entire boat before she was even listed; 15 years of precious possessions, along with 15 years of crap. Sounds like a simple task to unload a sailing vessel, but Berkeley East is a 54-foot raised salon yacht with more storage space than your typical house, let alone a boat, and every little crevice was packed.

Throughout the following weeks, we found tiny treasures buried deep inside BE. Like the scrimshaw we had purchased when we landed in the Azores Islands after sailing across the Atlantic in 2010. And the original fleet list from our first Caribbean 1500 boat rally in 2007. There was a box of aluminum foil that boarded BE when she was first commissioned in Florida, and 30-feet of toilet hose that we packed, checked on an airplane and flew from North Carolina to Turkey in 2013, which was then brought back to the US aboard Berkeley East in 2021. And even better than unused toilet hose, we were finally able to retrieve our magnum wine collection from Berkeley East's lower bilge; we had been saving favorite blends for years to bring home and share with friends.

There were multiple trips to the dump, drops at Goodwill, a rented storage unit filled to capacity, and a section of our broker's warehouse for boat-related gear. After all the sorting and sacrificing of goods, we made two trips back to North Carolina, the Hummer packed to the roof, with everything we just could not bear to part with. There will likely be more trips to Goodwill, and the dump, when we unpack the boxes at home.

Once Berkeley East was clear of our clutter, the real work began. While she had been meticulously maintained for her entire life thus far, she needed some cleaning and polishing to impress prospective buyers, so a haul out was scheduled. Over the years, we have hauled Berkeley East numerous times, and while it is always nerve wracking to see her out of the water, we knew the drill. What we didn't know was that there was a strong tide and current just outside the slipway of the boatyard that sent BE swirling dangerously close to two super yachts every time the Captain tried to back her in. We were about to abort the mission, when two guys in a tow boat came out to help push Berkeley East into the slipway. We tried to pay them for their assistance, but they declined, they just wanted to help. Boaters helping boaters, one part of the cruising life that we will miss.

We worked for a solid month with one day off to celebrate the Admiral's birthday.

After two weeks in the yard, Berkeley East was stunning. We splashed her for one last trip with her Captain and Admiral at the helm. We felt fortunate that there was little wind and no rain, as we had been experiencing torrential downpours for weeks. And we made it to the dock before dark, life was good. But as we reached our space, the wind came up blowing Berkeley East off (one problem with docking behind someone's house is there are no marina workers to lend a hand). On the third attempt to wrestle BE close enough, the Admiral showed off 15 years of boat woman skills by lassoing a pilon, jumping over the pulpit off Berkeley East's bow to the deck below, and securing a line so we could inch BE's 37 tons into place. As we grumbled at the difficulty of our final docking experience on Berkeley East, we took solace in knowing that "any docking you can walk away from is a good docking", especially for old sailors like us.

Berkeley East is listed for sale with Collection Yachts, who think she is a real catch. But if someone doesn't snap her up quickly, we might find ourselves moving back on board in the spring and sailing BE to the Bahamas.

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.

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 - Fishing Pics during the Caribbean 1500
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Mahi 2 m: Dual hook up while under spinnaker at 9 kts
Landed a 36” and 32” Mahi Mahi
Mahi 2 m: Dual hook up while under spinnaker at 9 kts Landed a 36” and 32” Mahi Mahi
Added 17 November 2007

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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