Posted by: Dave Mallach | June 3, 2013

I’m back!


I’m back!

At the end of this long posting I will repeat those two words, and I will add three more. While there’s a lot to read between here and there, please don’t feel obligated to read any of it. I’m not officially in the yacht biz any longer, so I may not have anything particularly relevant to offer you. But feel free to read as much or as little as you like. To make it easier, I have divided this wordy mass into three areas: The Personal, The Professional, and The Divine.

I. The Personal

It was exactly 365 days ago that I posted my goodbye message. That was a few weeks after my wife Pat passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 52.  For continuities’ sake, if you like you can read that message here:

Goodbye to all that

From where I sit now, “overwhelmed” is too mild a word to explain my feelings about the responses to my good-bye. I received almost two hundred written offerings of concern, compassion and hope from my friends and clients in the Vicem world. As for phone calls, I was in too much in a state of shock to really register or count those numerous conversations. There might have been fifty of them. I’m not sure that I fully understood how many people I had firmly connected with in my blog. It was quite humbling.

I answered very few of your wonderful messages. I’d like to now explain, with whatever clarity an additional year provides, to explain how and why I dissapeared, and to recount the year’s events. It is my hope that this way, if and when we talk, write or meet again, we can focus on what’s important – our present and future.

It’s a pretty personal tale, all in all. But I offer it because my reader’s responses were so personal. And perhaps my message can have some meaning for you.

You may recall that before I was a yacht broker I ran the drug treatment programs for NYC’s jails on Rikers Island. It was there that I learned an effective technique to reach the most unreachable people, addicts who had fallen as far as one could fall. When these inmates hit bottom and had nothing left to do, feel or say, I would ask simply:

“Do you want to live or do you want to die?”

A few days after Pat died I had to ask myself the same question.

I knew, despite the horror, that I wanted to live.

In fact I was fiercely determined to live, and to find ways to forge a full new life. I knew that Pat would have expected it of me. I was also swayed by how many big things I had yet to achieve in my life – like being a grandparent, finishing my novel, finishing the school in Haiti, and working on things I had never even thought to start.  So I determined to do whatever it took to create a new life for myself. I called this life, unoriginally, Dave 2.0.

I felt (perhaps irrationally) that my clearest path to 2.0 required that I cut off from 1.0. And so I “went dark” with most of the people I’d befriended in the last ten years, especially my Vicem friends and clients. While the Vicem ride was great, and has served me well in my retirement, I came to resent the travel, the one-day-in-three that business took me away from home. Put another way, those days added up to the three-years-in-nine that I would never get back with Pat. And that resentment was hard to let go of. Its what cut me off from my past. Please understand that this resentment was nothing personal. Every message I received meant a great deal to me. But it was just too painful for me to respond.

Until now.

This year from hell (a cliché, of course, but there is no better way to describe it) did teach me a lot about myself, and I am genuinely grateful for lessons learned. For example,

  • I learned what I could take – and that’s almost anything.
  • I learned how to work through the grieving process, in part through the powers of distraction and busyness, in part with the help of an amazing therapist.
  • I learned how to lean on friends and family (never my strong suit) on the toughest days, and to do so without fear, weakness, or guilt.
  • I learned the hardest lesson of all for me  – To not be afraid of sadness. It is part of life. It comes. It teaches. And then, with the love and support of others, it goes.

There are, I found, worse things in life than tears.

I know a man in Port-Au-Prince who in 20 seconds lost his wife, his daughter and his mother.  He worked in a bank, and he was working later than usual when the earthquake hit. I asked him later how he survived.  He said, “You just cry.”

Well, sometimes that’s what you do. Until you don’t.

So now, at the one-year mark, I don’t cry much. In fact, I’m doing quite well most of the time. True, my closest friends, those of twenty or thirty years, tell me they can still see the shadows of sadness in my eyes, but  I expect even those shards to fade in time.

My children are wonderful. Many or most 18 and 20-year-old kids would have folded. I suspect that at their age I would have, and that Pat would have too. But Katie and Tim did not. Their love and resilience continues to amaze and inspire me. Katie just graduated cum laude from Iona, and is following her mothers’s career by starting law school in Connecticut this September. After much independent thought and good judgement, Tim changed majors mid-stream, and just made Dean’s list at Quinnipiac. It tickles me that they will be schooling close to each other in Connecticut. Hugging-close.


As for me, I moved into Manhattan last summer (East 70’s and the East River). The building was built in 1905, and I always feel like I’m in Budapest or Prague:


I am happy here. Manhattan for me is a place with a pace that supports my healing. If you are moving your boat up and down the East River give me a few minutes notice and I’ll happily toss you a beer.

As for recreation, I bought an Actioncraft flats boat last summer for fly fishing:


and last month a Prout Escale 39 sailing catamaran:


I will keep them both on Long Island Sound this season (in Northport harbor), and move them down to Miami in the winter. Busy is best for me, and I have found that time on the water (eventually) heals (almost) everything.

I did not get as much work done on the novel as I would have liked this year, but I would say it is 30% done. One chapter of it I have modified into a short story, and I am working on finding a publisher for it. If you’d like to read it, just let me know.

II. The Professional

It was difficult for me leave Vicem and retire. Of course I’m fortunate that I could afford to, but the truth is I simply had no work left in me. I take it as a sign of returning emotional health that I now recognize that 54 was too young to retire. Unfortunately, just as I was about to return this summer with some pretty cool business ideas, my parent’s (picture above ) health is now requiring much of my attention. So significant business plans must now take a back seat while I help as I can.

However, on a part time basis I am doing a little bit of consulting in the marine industry. After all, helping foreign manufacturers tailor their boats, marketing materials, and service and warrantee plans for the American market is something I have a little experience in!

I do miss my Vicem’s, of course, and my wonderful friends in Turkey. While I do not have full time sales (and full time travel) in me anymore, I think it would be a shame not to put my Vicem knowledge to good use. So if anyone out there needs assistance in buying a used or new Vicem, you know my famous line:

Just launch a flare!

I’d be happy to help.

III. The Divine

I am ashamed to say that I entirely withdrew from our Haiti initiative this year. The sad truth was that concern for others was beyond my ability (and even interest) at the time. My wonderful friends on the board of Haitian Support understood, or course, but I am now dealing with the reality that the project has slowed down significantly. The construction of the new school is currently more or less stalled at the 65% completion mark.  Having raised and spend $120,000, we are now just $65,000 short of the capital funds required to finish it. While this weighs on me now, the challenge has pulled me out of my shell.

Dave 2.0 is fully committed to doing everything he can to finish this school. My life, and this blog going forward, will be largely dedicated to these efforts. There will always be a nautical component to both my life and blog, but changing a small part of the world for the better will be my central focus.

Of course I will understand if you stop following it all, and I will not take it personally (whether you formally unsubscribe or not). But I hope you stick with me, and us. And here’s why.

My fifth and most personal and important lesson of this year from hell is this: Happiness does not come from the pursuit of pleasures. Now of course I enjoy my pleasures. After all, I have two boats!  And I can usually be found in, on, or under the water. But at some point those sort of joys become hollow. So I have adopted the mantra of my good and inspirational friends Armand Dimele and Stephanie D’Ambra.They have reminded me that

It is the pursuit of purpose that makes us happy, not the pursuit of pleasures.

What can I say? It works for me, and I believe it can work for others. So I have returned full time (as family events allow) to my purpose – to get this school in Haiti finished. If you choose to, you can follow our progress (or even better, help propel our progress) by keeping up with this blog and all its’ hopes and dreams. I do hope you will, in some way, make Bodarie your purpose.

As it has been awhile, here is a brief video refresher on Bodarie, Haiti:

And some photos:

The Old school, hit hard in the last tropical storm and now barely standing:


The new school, under construction:


The new school 2/3  done, just a few weeks ago:


The final plan:


And, finally, the reasons why:


So I now close this posting just  as I opened it, with two simple words:

I’m back.

And I’ll add these three:

Thanks for waiting!

All my love,

Dave Mallach


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