Adventures of Berkeley East

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
12 July 2019

The End of an Era

30 January 2022 | Ft. Lauderdale, FL

There is a very old, well-known boating adage: "The two best days in a boat owner's life are the day they buy it, and the day they sell." Whoever coined that phrase must have had a crappy boat.

Our idea to purchase a boat and go cruising began years before we created Berkeley East. Those days of dreaming, researching, planning, and chartering were exciting, some of the best days during that time. Executing the contract with Hylas Yachts to build Berkeley East, while stressful, was truly a highlight of our lives. Visiting Queen Long Marine in Taiwan while BE was under construction was exhilarating.

Choosing a boat name, taking delivery of Berkeley East in Ft Lauderdale, performing her first test sail, signing the closing documents making us the proud owners of the best Hylas 54 ever made; all were a few, just a few, of the best days in these particular boat-owners' lives. Add to that, 15 years filled with fun, travel, challenge, adventure, exploration, discovery, friendship, and sailing; there were endless best days.

There is no question that there were also tough days, scary days, exhausting days, days we thought would never end. Contrary to popular belief, cruising is not all "cocktails and sunsets". But the cocktails and sunsets helped take the sting out of the bad bits. And having a beautiful, strong, well-equipped yacht like Berkeley East kept us safe, secure, and, as comfortable as possible, during the more challenging moments.

Our plan to end this phase of our lives, while difficult, was well thought out. We were not happy to stop cruising, we were not relieved at the idea of selling Berkeley East. It was just time for us to move on. We've made complex decisions like this before: selecting one college over another, taking job number one instead of job number two, moving from California to Australia, and back again, retiring from careers we loved, to go sailing. All choices that presented thrilling possibilities mixed with quiet trepidation, just like now. Perhaps we have good instincts, or just enjoy dumb luck, but most of the time we made the right move.

After weeks of hard labor getting Berkeley East ready to sell, we escaped to the beach to rest and recharge. We spent five days enjoying the sun and sand, with just one serious task at hand: making our list of "Next Best Days" once BE had sold. The Captain brought his spread sheets; the Admiral packed her post-it notes. The result is a collaboration of ideas that present us with a continuing goal for new experiences, challenges, and adventures. It is a list so long that we probably will not have time in our remaining life to reach completion, but we will die trying.

Less than a week after Berkeley East was listed, we received two offers. It was very flattering to see that the boat we loved, and looked after, for 15 years was so attractive to buyers. A few weeks later, following an extensive survey, test sail, questions, answers, requests, and negotiations, we signed BE over to her new owners and officially ended our cruising run on Berkeley East, the best Hylas 54 ever built. It was truly one of the saddest days of our lives. But without the sadness, we would not have experienced all the joy. We had a great ride!

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.

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 - Octopuses Garden Under the Sea
Photos 1 to 15 of 15 | Caribbean 1500 2008 (Main)

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