From Thu Oct 4 2001

Dear friends and friends of friends,                October 4, 2001

I don't know how this stuff works but I have a feeling that when a lot of people put their minds on the same thing sometimes it seems to have an impact even if they're not doing anything physically.

Some of you know that almost 5 months ago my dad, Nenad Belic, set out on an adventure in which he planned to row a boat from Cape Cod, USA to Europe. He researched his idea for over 10 years, spent a few years having a boat built for the trip, and he read everything there was to read about rowing across the ocean. People have done it before.

Last May, on a beautiful sunny day, he rowed out of a small port in Massachusetts. For over 4 1/2 months things went smoothly and every time I talked to him via satellite phone he sounded ecstatic, he was having the time of his life.

Three nights ago, when he was about 230 miles off the coast of Ireland the Coast Guard received a transmission from his Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). This is a device which, when activated, sends out a radio distress signal to the nearest Coast Guard that automatically identifies the boat and its position. A storm was coming through his area with winds up to 50mph and waves with faces as high as 60 feet. His boat is 21 feet long and 5 feet wide. It was night time. When the British Coast Guard arrived at the scene with two search-&-rescue planes and a helicopter they found nothing but the flashing beacon floating in the water.

For the next 3 days the Coast Guards of England and Ireland continued daytime reconnaissance missions. They alerted nearby boats to be on the lookout. The Coast Guard began determining logical search areas based on wind and water current conditions, as did an independent team of "ocean rowing" rescue experts. The rowing team decided that the wind and water could push the boat up to 50 miles per day, as it had in the case of a number of rowers who had been rescued in years past. The Coast Guard was searching areas closer to the initial beacon position because their computers were set up to calculate searches for heavier, slower moving boats, or a boat like his providing it has taken on a significant amount of water. A private search plane was hired to assist the Coast Guard. They looked in the search area determined by the ocean rowing team and, like the Coast Guard, came back with nothing. No boat, no wreckage, no dad.

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.

Both the designer and the builder of my dad's boat agree that it is very strong and could likely withstand the storm he experienced. And after hearing two rowers tell me stories about being passed directly overhead repeatedly by rescue planes which did not see them I feel there is a very reasonable chance my dad is still alive.

The Coast Guard plans to call off the search permanently as of nightfall October 4. Each day they have said their search had to end that evening. But somehow, because of the efforts of friends and strangers, the search has continued. Though the Coast Guard has made a truly heroic effort I feel we haven't "turned every stone" and I am trying to encourage local fisherman and pilots to continue looking. My brother, Adrian, has been in Ireland the past few days participating in and encouraging the search operation.

I tell you all this because I feel there is some chance that our organized will itself can effect our reality. And if you don't believe in that maybe you know someone who knows someone who can take a boat or helicopter or plane off the coast of Ireland to help find my dad.

I don't intend for this to spread sadness (and I apologize if it does). Instead, I hope that by informing you of the situation we might be able to expand the reach of our rescue efforts. I know you are with us.

With love,