We are grieved to report yet another life has been lost this month to SWB. 27 year old Benjo Haller died on August 1 at the age of 27 in seven feet of water, off the shore of Eleuthera Island, Bahamas. His death occurred while doing underwater breath holding drills to increase his time for spear fishing. Benjo was a dynamic young man who was an avid sailor and a certified SCUBA instructor. His father, Dean Haller, has been added to our board of advisors and is actively seeking to educate people on the dangers of shallow water blackout. Please see Benjo’s full memorial below, as told by his father Dean.
Benjamin Craig (Benjo) Haller died on August 1, 2014 at the age of 27 in seven feet of water off the shore of Eleuthera Island, Bahamas. His death occurred while doing underwater breath holding drills to increase his time under water for spear fishing. As was so often the case with Benjo he was attempting to exceed his previous best at yet another personal challenge.
After his sixth grade Benjo was enrolled in sailing lessons at The International Sailing Center in Mallets Bay, Vermont. He went on to work there every summer until the beginning of the summer of 2014. During this time, he became an incredibly accomplished sailor, instructor, technician and boat repairman.
In 2002, the family acquired a damaged 30 foot O’Day sailboat, which Benjo fully restored over the course of the next several summers. He delighted in giving his friends moonlight cruises or teaching them how to sail on Momma Dance. After graduation from high school, Benjo attended the Pro Dive SCUBA Training Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and became a certified SCUBA Instructor. Upon certification, he was immediately hired by the internationally acclaimed Stuart Cove’s Dive Center in Nassau, Bahamas, and was the youngest instructor ever hired by the Center.
After working at the Dive Center for a year, Benjo enrolled at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Alpine skiing was everywhere, but sailing was non-existent. Over the course of the next five years, he worked tirelessly to create The Boulder Sailing Club and to have it sanctioned and financially supported in part by the University. Using countless fundraising events, traveling throughout the west picking up donated sailboats and securing the rights to use the Boulder Reservoir, his dream came true. By the time he graduated with a degree in Film, the University was racing collegiately throughout the west.
At the age of 12 while diving in Cozumel with his family, he set his mental sexton on sailing from Vermont to the Caribbean. In October 2013 he left Mallets Bay in northern Vermont on Momma Dance, after a year of planning and charting his course, provisioning the boat, and lining up mates to meet him along the way. He made it to Norfolk in 21 days and left his boat there for the winter. In May of this year he flew to Norfolk, picked up Momma Dance, and on July 18, 2014 he landed on Bimini Island in the Bahamas from there he sailed to the Eleuthera Islands His goal was to tour the Islands in the Bahamas with his First Mate, Matt, and Buddy, his beloved dog that sailed with him from Vermont. Ben’s long ago dream came true! His next plan was to head to the southern Caribbean to work as a sailing and SCUBA instructor. Regrettably, his next adventure was tragically denied on Aug. 1, 2014.
With an infectious laugh, a diamond studded smile, the good looks of a movie star, and the zest to fill every single minute of his life with adventure and personal challenges; he became a magnet for those wanting to experience life as he defined it. When he was on the water, either liquid or frozen, he was in his element or the world was his oyster.