Daegon Keller said his interest piqued when he first saw the small boat, named “Lun,” that looked to him like a small, homemade, yellow submarine behind the Pedro Point Shopping Center.
That someone researched the vessel and left a printout affixed to the boat only made him more interested. “It’s intense,” wrote Keller in an email to the Tribune.
It turns out the boat was designed in Massachusetts and built in Redwood City for Dr. Nenad Belic to row across the Atlantic. He set out in 2001 and intended to make it to Portugal, but apparently died off the coast of Ireland.
“I don’t know how this boat made it back to Pacifica or why it is on a display in a somewhat lackluster way,” Keller wrote.
How the boat came to Pacifica remains a mystery. For years it was near Ron Calson’s field in Pedro Point, then moved closer to the Pedro Point Shopping Center near the railroad levee. It’s been there at least five years, wrote Ken Miles, in an email to the Tribune. Miles publishes the newsletter for the Pacifica Historical Society and has been interested in learning more about the strange boat that came to Pacifica.
“After the father’s death, the boat was returned to son, Roko, who lived in Vallejo at the time, and he needed to find a home for it as he was moving to Southern California,” he wrote.
A link posted on the boat leads to a sad story of a man’s solo journey across the Atlantic. The article was written by Peggy Wolff in 2002 in Chicago Magazine. It and other press reports tell of a man with a singular drive and spirit.
Belic was 62 when he set sail from Stage Harbor, Mass., on May 22, 2001. He had retired from his job as a cardiologist in Chicago and fully expected to make the 2,580-mile journey to the Portuguese shore despite sitting atop a vessel with no sail nor motor. He thought it might take him 100 days.
Reports suggest his wife didn’t want him to make the trip but nonetheless threw him a bon voyage party with a cake shaped like the Lun. Filmmaker sons Adrian and Roko videotaped that party.
Belic had long considered such a journey. He reportedly learned Morse code and how to use a ham radio. He studied weather charts and celestial navigation. Press reports note that Adrian and Roko followed him out on his departure until he disappeared from view.
After a couple of months, it appeared Belic was moving further north than his original plan. By August he knew he only had a few more weeks’ worth of supplies. But then came a spot of luck. A Swedish container ship, Rigoletto, made contact and resupplied the Lun.
On Sept. 24, oceanographer Jenifer Clark raised him on the satellite phone with grim news. A bad storm was coming as he approached the coast of Ireland. Clark told Belic to activate his emergency radio beacon and seek rescue. He rowed through the storm.
Weeks later, Irish fishermen spotted the Lun, upside down a quarter-mile offshore at Pouladay Rocks, near Kilkee, County Claire. Belic was nowhere to be seen.