The strongest link between the mountains and the sea is that in both cases a man feels equally small under the heavenly dome. At sea, a boat is a mean of conquering unknown spaces, just like hiking boots are in the mountains, and thanks to it a person can learn more from the sea. – This is what Dieter Schellenberg, a native French speaker, told us in slightly broken Croatian, not taking his eyes off Orlić, which touched the sea for the first time today.

There is a small feast in Betina today. As is usually the case when a deal is finalized, at least one lamb had to pay with his head, and this time there were four. A decent number for the leut that was just launched.


Dieter Schellenberg is a retired biochemist who used to work for Nestle, as well as the former director of the International Cycling Union, an avid mountaneer and sailor on the Geneva Lake. He first encountered wooden fishing boats, called gajetas, 40 years ago, when he came to ask for the hand of Marija Pleslić Orlićeva, a native of the Island of Murter. He witnessed how necessary a boat is in the everyday life of his second homeland and became a passionate admirer of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean talent for improvisation. At the peak of his excitement he wished for his own boat, with a name of his own choosing. The choice naturally fell on the name Orlić, the nickname of Marija’s family.

Although the polyester version of a boat is always the most comfortable one, the family firmly decided that the boat had to be made of wood. It had to be a leut (traditional boat propelled by oars or sails), with a cabin and boat hatch, built of wood in the traditional way.

As Dieter is a man who stems from the Alpine culture of order, discipline, perfectionism and analytics, he realized that a wooden boat is not a mere sum of exact figures and technical components, but a mastery of intelligently controlled improvisation, with a special feeling for material and form, making it closer to, or even equal to, a work of art. To Dieter, a wooden boat represents culture, craftsmanship and traditional customs, which he simply decided to enjoy, regardless of the cost. He wanted a boat with a Master’s signature.