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News Staff

Man rowing across Atlantic nears goal

September 25, 2001


Although he almost ran out of food and is far behind schedule, the Chicago man who is rowing across the Atlantic Ocean is having the time of his life.

"I could do it for years," Dr. Nenad Belic told oceanographer Jenifer Clark the other day.

Belic, 63, should be doing it for about another month. He is 600 miles from shore--Ireland is his likely landing spot--and has been making at least 20 miles a day.

"He said, 'I whistle and I think,'" said Clark, who is in weekly contact with the retired cardiologist. "All sorts of childhood memories are coming back. He enjoys the solitude."

Belic, who was concerned about September hurricanes, is past the area they normally hit. The weather treated him less well after he started out from Massachusetts on May 11. Storms kept him within 60 miles of the U.S. coast for three weeks.

If it hadn't been for that, Belic would have finished his trip by now. The delay also strained his food supply, and he began rationing at the end of August.

Two weeks ago a passing ship gave him some Spam, jam, a loaf of bread and a bottle of Evian water. "The bread had freezer burn, but he said it was delicious," Clark said.

Last week Belic got a 10-day supply of gourmet food from the Rigoletto, a Swedish container ship.

He's excited about nearing his goal, said Belic's son Adrian, a filmmaker. "Before, there was a longing in his voice. He was still out there. Now it's like the wrap-up."

Belic heard about the terrorist attacks on U.S. targets on a short-wave radio. "It definitely had an impact on him," said Adrian, who produced and directed the Oscar-nominated documentary "Ghengis Blues" with his brother, Roko. "He was deeply disturbed."

Belic's wife, Ellen, said wistfully that he had hoped to be home in time to attend his 13-year-old daughter's bat mitzvah. "I'm praying for a fast wind and a quick current," she said.

He is the oldest person to attempt the rowing feat, and has been out on the water longer than anyone else who made the effort, she said.

If he succeeds, Belic will become the third to row from Cape Cod to Europe and the seventh to cross the Atlantic solo, west to east, from any starting point.

The Ocean Rowing Society is providing updates on Belic's progress at

September 26, 2001

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