Open Letter to International Seafaring Community

My name is Adrian Belic. My father, Nenad Belic, is lost at sea off Ireland’s west coast. He is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean rowing solo on a specially designed rowboat named Lun. He left Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A. on May 11, 2001.

Our family received a phone call from my father on Thursday, September 27 on his satellite phone. He was in very high spirits and looking forward to landing along the south west coast of Ireland within two weeks. He and the boat were in good shape and he was very well aware of the storm that was heading his way. He had made appropriate preparations for the storm and was beginning to ride it out. He had been in numerous storms during his crossing and had managed them all very well.

On the evening of Sunday, September 30, 2001, at approximately 21:30 GMT, the British and Irish coast guard received a transmission from my father’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which placed him about 230 miles west of the Irish coastal town of Dingle. When the Coast Guard arrived on the scene with two planes and a helicopter a few hours later, their searchlights located only the EPIRB floating in the water. There was no sign of the boat, my father, or any debris.

The structural strength and built-in buoyancy of the boat and the lack of debris lead us to believe that the boat is still afloat and it was simply separated from the EPIRB (not an uncommon occurrence in high seas). It is likely that his communication equipment was ruined during the storm. My father has spare bottles of drinking water and a manual desalination device that would allow him to survive for many days.

A few years ago a very similar situation occurred in which two rowers were lost at sea. According to instructions, they had deployed their EPIRB by attaching it to their boat with a rope. In the storm, the rope broke and the Coast Guard found the EPIRB floating. Only after days of searching were the boaters located and rescued. (See articles about the incident at www.oceanrowing.com.)

A group of the world’s leading experts on ocean rowing have made statements supporting the idea that my dad’s boat is intact and floating (see "Messages of Hope" at www.oceanrowing.com). If you, your family, or friends have any connection to the sea, please take a moment and make yourself visually familiar with the boat. It is bright yellow and white above the waterline and gray underneath. It is 21 feet long, 5 feet wide, 4 feet tall. Also, please become aware of its location from the first signal intercept by the Coast Guard September 30 at 51.30 North by 15.48 West to where the U.S. oceanographic experts believe he is today (Monday, Oct. 8) at approximately 52.2 degrees north by 10.8 degrees west. That would place him about 70 miles off the coast of Clifden, Galway.

That said,the Atlantic Ocean is vast and difficult to predict. He could be anywhere off the west coast of Ireland. As you pass this information on to your family and friends, please do not limit yourself when considering the people you send this to or speak with. The real search area is anywhere you or your friends and family are along the shore or out at sea along the western Irish coast, be that by boat (fishing, ferry, freighter, etc.), plane, helicopter. The latest updated coordinates and information will be posted every day or as they become available on www.oceanrowing.com.

There is also a large photo of my dad and his boat on main photo link page. I ask you, if it is appropriate, to print it out and post it where people who are heading out to sea can see it, perhaps on a message board or similar location. It would also be great to have this photo on board ships and aircraft heading out to sea this week. If there is anything that I can do to make this happen, please tell me. Thank you.

On behalf of my family and friends, I would like to thank the Irish and British coast guards for their heroic efforts. We are also eternally indebted to the many Irish people whom I have spoken with and/or met in the past week here in Ireland who have given their support.

The British and Irish coast guard have ceased any search by boat or plane for my father as of Thursday October 4. If anyone can directly assist in the search efforts, please contact me on my Irish mobile phone 24 hours a day at +353-(0)86-360-8584 or by e-mail at wadirum1@aol.com We are specifically looking for boats and aircraft that can search, but any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

With deepest gratitude,

Yours truly,
Adrian Belic, family, and friends