Adventures of Berkeley East

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
22 August 2018 | North East Sardinia
13 August 2018 | Northern Sardinia, Italy

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.

Mary and Larry’s “Excellent Adventure” Tour

28 August 2021

Back on mainland Italy; back in Gaeta, Berkeley East's winter marina for two consecutive years. We never imagined a return to our beloved Italia, but COVID thought otherwise, which presented us with an opportunity to revisit some of our favorite places in Italy. And a visit from Chris and Donna gave us the chance to share a few of those wonderful sites with good friends.

When Chris and Donna first talked about joining us on Berkeley East, we assumed we would be in Greece, so we spent much time discussing options in the islands. But when their work dictated an August vacation, Southern Italy became their destination. They had no preference where they went on their trip, they were coming to see us, wherever we were, wherever we were going.

It was a bit daunting to plan someone else's holiday, but we've known the couple for more than 40 years, and traveled with them extensively, so with the help of "What's App" we charted a whirlwind tour, on land, and sea. "What's App" is an app highly used in Italy (much of Europe in fact) as an alternative to texting. Whenever we would call a hotel, restaurant, car rental company and ask "parla inglese?" the reply would be a simple, "What's App me". And we did. Perhaps when we retire from cruising, we will become travel agents. How hard can it be?

We picked up our guests at the Rome Airport, in our newly rented (through "What's App") Mercedes Benz, and the adventure began. So much to see, so little time; 15 stops in nine days. Our stay in any one location would be very brief, but we hoped the memories would be lasting.

#1 - Orvierto - One of Umbria's loveliest towns, Orvierto is just a two-hour drive from Rome. The region known as the green heart of Italy, Umbria is recognized for its many medieval hill towns, lush landscapes and local cuisine, particularly truffles and Sagrantino wine. We had a quick walk around town, past the stunning 14th-century gothic cathedral, Orvierto's crowning glory. Under the town is a maze of Etruscan-era tunnels and grottos, some 2,500 years old, but there was no time to visit. A bite to eat, and we were off on a scenic drive through the hillside.

#2 - Adanti Winery - A winery that we have known for years, Azienda Agricola Adanti is one of the historic cellars of the Montefalco area in Umbria, famous for the production of protected wines such as Sagrantino and Montefalco Rosso. A sampling of some of Umbria's finest vinos and olive oil perked our jet-lagged passengers up. We quickly learned that food, drink, and naps in the car, kept them going.

#3 - Spello - Our arrival in our most loved Umbrian town, Spello, got our sleepy guests' attention. The entrance to Spello is a very narrow road between an ancient stone gate (knowing we would be driving in Spello, we learned how to fold the mirrors in on our rental vehicle in advance). In the gate, up the hill, through a mass of unexpected tourists. Comments from the back seat included "you can't drive up there". They were quite familiar with our driving escapades in foreign countries.

Spello sits in the foothills of Mount Subasio, a walled town, with seven ancient gates. Its winding streets and crumbly old churches attract tourists, photographers, and cruisers from around the world. Nearly every doorstep is adorned with plants and flowers, as if the residents are in a competition for who can have the most, or prettiest, arrangements. The town is also famous for the Church of St. Maria Maggiore and its frescoes that recount episodes from the life of Mary.

After check in at our favorite Spello hotel "Albergo il Cacciatore" there was time to relax. But just a few minutes, as our travel itinerary called for a 'Welcome to Italy" prosecco and dinner at our chosen restaurant, Enoteca Properzio, with Roberto.

#4 - Tili Vini - A good nights' sleep and we were off to Tili, a boutique organic family winery, for a winetasting brunch and comedy show. Maria and her daughter are not only amazing winemakers, chefs, and hosts, they are hilarious with their stories. We could have spent the entire day there being wined and dined and entertained, but Assisi awaited.

#5 - Assisi - While we had plenty to eat at Tili Vini, gelato and coffee were required to keep our California friends alert. Assisi is the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. The main site here is the Basilica of St. Francis, built in his honor. A massive, 2-level church, consecrated in 1253, it remains an important Christian pilgrimage site to this day.

#6 - Spoletto - Up early for the drive back to Berkeley East with a stop in Spoletto, a tangled medieval town in the foothills of the Apennines. Snug cobblestone streets, bright piazzas, and crumbling churches, much like the makeup of every Umbria hill town, but each has its own individual charm. A stop at the church for sodas and snacks to keep everyone awake for the road trip.

#7 - Gaeta - Apparently the backseat of our rented Mercedes was so comfortable, sleep was almost instantaneous for Chris and Donna. The drive from Umbria to Gaeta is mostly highway, an uneventful path, or so we thought. But a break for a bite to eat presented us with our first request for the Italian Green Pass, Italy's proof of COVID vaccine status, but only available to Italians. When we showed our CDC vaccine cards, which are supposed to be acceptable, the server just shook her head and told us to leave. Luckily boss man knew the rules and let us eat our sandwiches in peace. Back on BE, a quick tour of Gaeta, and we tossed off the dock lines.

#8 - Ponza - Dubbed by some as "Capri without the tourists," Ponza is off the beaten path, popular with Italians but without mass international visitors. Ponza is our absolute favorite island in Italy. Berkeley East and crew have spent more time anchored in Ponza than any other island. It was the perfect spot for a short breather from our hectic travel schedule.

#9 - Procida - The long passage (seven hours) to Procida gave our passengers time to catch up on sleep, day five and they were almost adjusted to European time. A tiny spot of land (under two square miles) in the Bay of Naples, Procida might be best known as the island between Ischia and Capri. We did a drive by of Ischia, but we prefer the slow pace of Procida and love the view from the harbor, a cluster of traditional houses, each one painted in vivid colors that light up with sunset.

#10 - Capri - Perhaps Italy's most famous and most visited island, the Isle of Capri is packed with tourists in summer, and its bays are littered with super yachts, charter and tour boats. The atmosphere is chaotic, but it is still a magical place. The origin of the Caprese Salad, one of our tastiest Italian meals, we stopped at the island for lunch (a Caprese Salad), and a swim, under the Faraglioni, three towering rock formations jetting out of the sea.

#11 - Amalfi - The town that gives its name to the Italy's most beautiful stretch of coastline, the Amalfi Coast, Amalfi was the first of the Four Maritime Republics of Italy, and for a long time had the monopoly of trade with the East. Clusters of white houses that cling to rock are linked by covered alleys and steep staircases.

Taking Berkeley East into the tight marina in Amalfi requires the special skill of the proprietor, Giulio. Typically, with one hand on the wheel, a cell phone or cigarette in the other, looking around while talking, Giulio swings boats into small spaces with expert precision. One day we came back to the marina to find BE in a completely different place than we had left her, with no idea how Giulio had gotten her there, as he didn't have the key.

#12 - Positano is one of the best-known places on the Amalfi Coast, recognized for its picturesque staircases and whitewashed houses. A fast ferry ride from Amalfi, we had a few hours to explore and take in the breathtaking panoramas before moving on.

#13 - Ravello - Having seen the Amalfi Coast by sea, we hired a car to experience it by land. The views are stunning, along the coast road, and from up the hill in Ravello, home to one of the oldest music festivals in Italy. But just as we turned towards Ravello, a "water bomb" exploded, the sky opened to a most unusual August torrential downpour. It was the kind of storm that you read about with flash floods, cars being washed from the road. And you wonder what the people were thinking, why were they out in weather like that?

#14 - Mt. Vesuvius - While we had been to every other stop on our itinerary at least once before, we always wanted to go to Vesuvius, so we added another Italian wonder to the plan and drug our guests up to the famous volcano's crater. During the two-hour drive from Amalfi to Vesuvius, we enjoyed the mountain road view as our driver/tour guide "Super Mario" shared the area's history. Mount Vesuvius is one of only two active, and one of the largest, volcanos in Continental Europe, towering about 1281 meters tall, with a symmetrical central cone and steep wooded slopes. Sadly, its claim to fame is the eruption in 79 AD that destroyed Pompeii and the surrounding ancient cities of the Roman Empire. A walk around the crater revealed the sheer power of that eruption.

#15 - Pompei -When Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it engulfed two flourishing Roman towns, Pompei and Herculaneum, as well as the many villas in the area. While the lava from the eruption flowed to Herculaneum, Pompei was smothered in ash. Since the mid-18th century, the ruins have been continually excavated and as the ash was removed the vast expanse of the commercial town of Pompei became visible in its well-preserved buildings. It is the only archaeological site in the world that provides a complete picture of an ancient Roman city. On this visit to Pompei, we splurged on a private, guided tour and learned many little-known facts about the town. Our guide pointed out things like speed bumps in the road to slow the chariots, and signs which indicated what "services" were provided by the ladies.

One more quiet night enjoying Berkeley East and Amalfi brought Mary and Larry's "Excellent Adventure" Tour to an end. Designed to give our friends, Chris and Donna, 15 reasons to love Italy in nine days, it was exhausting, but we believe even fleeting moments are worth the effort in this fantastic country. And there was an added benefit of the tour: good friends enjoying each other's company and creating new memories. A big thanks to Chris and Donna for making the trip during a difficult time.

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 - Wardrick Wells
Photos 1 to 11 of 11 | Caribbean 1500 2008 (Main)
Queen Angle Fish at Judy
Spoted Eagle Ray
Lobster Dinner?
Spotted Eagle Ray at Judy

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