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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Marking Time in "Zingara"
A Measure of Time Gone By
June 4, 2010

ost boat voyages are measured in feet and miles. The feet define the vessel. The miles measure the voyage. One person dreams of a 40-foot cutter. Another person aims for a 30,000 mile circumnavigation. For Bruce Ray who’s cruising aboard the Rival 34 “Zingara”, there’s a third dimension. That would be the inches. Inches are how Bruce measures the time he has left to live. “Zingara” is how he plans to live them.

Bruce Ray
“Zingara”: In italian it means “gypsy”. For Bruce, it’s meant traveling the equivalent of half way around the world on the water.

First, the feet and miles.

Bruce’s vessel “Zingara” is a 1972 Rival sailboat built by the Southern Shipbuilding Company in Southhampton, England. “She’s been a blue water boat most of her life” he says, with 3 trans Atlantic passages under her belt before he bought her.

A narrow boat by modern standards, she was built for offshore sailing and racing. At 34 feet and a modest 11,000 pounds displacement, she has features reserved for more heavily built boats. An external backbone is molded into the cabin house deck for strength. The stanchions and mast base are rest atop specially molded and reinforced fiberglass pads. The deck rests atop an 18-inch shelf where it is bonded to the hull.

“Zingara”‘s narrow deck house, wide decks and rounded contours make for a proven offshore record. Bruce notes a sister ship has won division honors in the OSTAR trans-Atlantic race.
Though Bruce uses an electronic autopilot for holding the course, he still relies on a wind-powered Aries wind vane for steering offshore.

Belowdecks, the traditional layout reflects what works at sea. The galley and nav station are compact so the skipper can wedge himself securely into place while cooking and navigating. Forward the galley area, port and starboard berths line the main living quarters. Offshore, this means there’s always a lee berth handy when going to weather (going to weather, the lee berth is the lower, more secure, of the two berths). Sparse by modern standards, she lacks a shower, refrigeration and single side band radio. “But everything works” Bruce notes.

Ship shape.

Not that how a yacht is outfitted is the most important factor when going cruising. Bruce maintains it’s the sailor, not the vessel, that really makes the difference. No matter how well equipped, cruising under sail requires a certain amount of hardship, be it bashing to weather in heavy conditions or rolling down the tradewinds under twin headsails. “There’s just no perfect boat” he says, “it’s just a matter of putting up with high discomfort. And I have a high discomfort level.”

Bruce should know.

Though he describes himself “a fair weather sailor”, he’s sailed a variety of boats to ports a long way from the Chesapeake waters he grew up on. In 1973, he sailed his 26-foot sailboat to the Bahamas. In the early 1980s, he sailed a larger ketch across the Atlantic Ocean. Between offshore sailing and island hopping, he owned and raced a J-boat.

Then came “Zingara”.

In 2002, he visited Annapolis, Maryland, for his 40th high school reunion. He was also in the market for a sailboat. While in town, he had a look at a boat he’d seen for sale online. He liked her. He bought her. He sailed her back to Maine, where he was living and working as a custom home builder. Then, he says, “At 62, I said ‘To Hell with it all. I’m going sailing….”

And sailing he went. Straight into a new unit of measurement.

While Bruce’s vessel and voyages can be measured in miles and feet, he measures the personal voyage that lies ahead of him, specifically, the time he has left on earth, in inches.

While giving TownDock.net staff a tour of “Zingara” he demonstrated the technique.

A measure of time.

Pulling a tape measure from “Zingara”‘s nav area, he pulled out a length of steel tape, his thumb stopping at the number 67 – his age in years. With another finger, he marked the 80-inch mark, how long he hopes to live. The gesture was clear. Theoretically, he was over three-quarters of the way through life’s journey – a trek he realized could be cut short at a moment’s notice. It was critical to use the remaining time fully.

For Bruce, “looking at that proportion” has been an eye opener. Using the balance of time as a motivator, he has sailed “Zingara” hard and far.

In the five years he’s owned “Zingara”, Bruce has put “about 15,000” miles under her keel. Since leaving Maine in 2005, he has made 5 trips to the Bahamas, most recently spending time at the Berry Islands and the Family Island Regatta held on Exuma. While he dreams of visiting the Pacific, he says he’s plenty happy traveling back and forth between the ‘States and the islands just off the Florida coast.

So what does the road ahead hold? Bruce seems to think his future is on the water. From Oriental, he plans to head to the Chesapeake Bay to wait out the hurricane season. From there, he plans to continue voyaging up and down the coast and life’s symbolic tape measure, one sea mile, foot – and inch – at a time.

Time ahead.

Posted Friday June 4, 2010 by Bernie Harberts

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