A really cool dive that happens every day at the New England Aquarium is the 2:30 Diver Communications Dive. Not only do we provide visitors with the unique opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with a diver, but we share what the diver sees, broadcasting it in high definition onto two giant screens at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank.

(Here’s a quick video showing the system at work – I was the comms diver that day)

I was tasked to develop this system when the exhibit was closed for a major, year long, renovation in 2013-2014. A task that definitely presented many interesting challenges and required some rather unique solutions.

Joe Cocozza of Pod Diver Radio what going to stop by the Aquarium a few weeks ago to talk to me about our diver communications program, but as luck would have it, a blizzard shut down the Aquarium and I ended up doing the interview over the phone. Such is the life in Boston these days!

And, towards the end of the interview he did manage to get in a few questions about my writing, my rEvo rebreather, and the sequel to Out of Hell’s Kitchen – entitled Into the Devil’s Throat… (as if you didn’t know!)

So sit back, relax, pop open your favorite bevie, and have a listen…


Ever wonder what happens when the weather turns really (really) crappy and your favorite aquarium is forced to close (ahem – which of course you are all thinking, “New England Aquarium!”)? What about what happens to all the critters on Christmas or New Years or Thanksgiving? Well, if you’ve ever lost sleep worrying about who’s taking care of those aquatic dwellers, worry no more.

And to prove it, I got together with Boston.com to show you what happens at NEAq when snowmageddon strikes. Check out the story here…

(and be sure to check out the video in the article – especially if you want to know what Chris – my co-aquarist – can’t find…!)


I’m happy to say that PassageMaker Magazine is sharing my blog on bringing Sequel north. Though I know the entire blog can be read on this site, I thought I’d pass along the link to PassageMaker’s site – a very worthy boating magazine indeed!

PassageMaker Magazine – Sequel Blog



A while back I had texted a friend, “So, what’s the good word?”, and she actually returned with a really good word (though I now don’t recall the exact word, it was a good one!). So I took it as a challenge to craft a paragraph that uses that word creatively, but correctly. Well, fast forward many good words since then, and it’s gotten a bit out of hand – to the point that I wrote a short short (yes, that’s a thing…) to accommodate the most recent (and cursed) word.

Since I wrote it, I thought I’d share with you guys, so I present…


He loved her.
There was no disputing the fact – he loved her.
He knew every molecule of her. Her very essence crowded around him, bathed him in a warm glow he’d not known before. The smell of her hair, the smell of her skin, the back of her neck. The smile that reached the corners of her eyes, and touched a place deep in his soul.
He loved her.
So what happened?
One word had happened, that’s what.

He sat down, the old wooden chair issuing a creak as it took his weight – a sound that went unnoticed by its occupant as he reflected inward, back to that day so very long ago.
Or was it not so long ago?
He was cursed with an imperfect gift. He did not remember things so much as see them in his mind’s eye. But these memories were retained with the clarity of a Polaroid, the edges soft and fuzzy, the images blurring with time.
Still, he could see that one moment with perfect resolution.
The moment he found a sheet of paper in the battered Remington Travel-Riter, the typewriter she used to love to peck at.
A sheet of paper that held a single word, perfectly centered in the middle of the page.
The chair creaked again as he reached for his pen, absently wiping it with the tail of his shirt. He preferred the pen to the typewriter, and despised anything that came after. But a tool is a tool and he did what he had to do. With a careful, almost reverent, motion he unfolded the page and stared at the word again, his fingers tightening against the cellulose pulp. His Polaroid memory not only snapped pictures of the present, but of the unseen as well. It captured entire scenes conveyed by that one word alone.
What does it mean?
He knew what it meant – the stacks of heavy books surrounding him testament to that fact. Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, Oxford – they were all there. So were the pages and pages of printouts from endless web searches. Each page scanned, the cursed word underscored by this very pen – each carefully crafted lookup examined, cross-linked and bookmarked – ejected another Polaroid onto the stack of pictures his brain conjured.
But what did it mean?

With a gentle pressure his finger traced along the characters of the word, feeling the imprint left behind by the impact of the typebars as they formed the word. Nine characters – a prime number squared.
Cobalt, Rhodium, Iridium, Meitnerium
Numerology poured out meaning by the gallon.
More pictures.
But he loved her – loved the smell of her hair, though perhaps somewhat tainted by the sharp essence of polish. Polished metal stabbing though his stack of mental Polaroids.
A soft pop resonated in the stillness of the room as he pulled the cap off the pen. Placing the page on the desk before him, he smoothed the creases flat. With infinite care he placed the pen to paper, just beneath the typewritten word. Allowing the ink to flow, he crafted four words in a careful hand…

    What does it mean?

The perfect symmetry of the page now forever destroyed, the solitary word unbalanced by the handwritten script.
The page defiled.
A life already defiled?
With a sense of palpable relief he snatched the page off the desk, pressed it firmly to her chest and with a swift arc he drove the pen down through the page, through the stack of pages beneath it, and deep into putrid flesh, the resistance of tissues – of muscles and skin – long since passed.
Inserting a fresh sheet into the Remington he typed nine characters onto the center of the page.

Derrick stood up, smoothed his shirt, and walked out of the shed. He was doomed to repeat this day until the Polaroids of his mind faded into obscurity, or he found another word…


a facetious word for stripper (sense 1)
Word Origin
C20: (coined by H. L. Mencken) from ecdysis + -ast, variant of –ist
H.L. Mencken’s invented proper word for “strip-tease artist,” 1940, from Greek ekdysis “a stripping or casting off” (used scientifically with reference to serpents shedding skin or crustacea molting), from ekdyein “to put off” (contrasted with endyo “to put on”), from ek (see ex- ) + dyein “to enter, to put on.”

ICW 25 – Home

Day 22 – Stonington, CT to Portsmouth, RI, 46 miles, 2.5 hours

There’s one post left after this one, but for now, we’re home…


Till I wrap it all up…

<– Back to ICW 24



Day 21 – Stonington, CT to Stonington, CT in more slow wind-driven circles, 0 miles (super educated guess), all day

After reading, and rereading, and loving with a true passion, the works of absolutely my favorite author, Patrick O’Brian, you can’t but help absorb something.Tons of somethings actually. He is simply brilliant, and his intellect shines through his words in a way that pains me for my own paltry writing. But beyond that, the seafaring world he writes is a study in etymology, the adoption of nautical terms in everyday language is quite surprising. But there’s one phrase in specific that I want to deal with tonight.

The bitter end.

Technically, the bitter end is the part of a rope that’s tied off. And from that definition has sprung more dire meanings. But for Amy and I, its meaning is something else altogether. Touch wood, but tomorrow we will be home. We will create several bitter ends as we secure Sequel in her new slip in Portsmouth, RI and then we’ll pack up the car and head back to Boston – after being on our boat for 25 days and being away from our home and “the kids” for 27 days. It’s going to be bitter sweet for sure. We miss our home and our dog Bella and our two cats Sal and Jersey. And we can feel the pressures of “real” life beginning to weigh on us – demanding our attention. But it’s been one hell of a great trip – experience – and we’re sad to see it draw to a close in a mere collection of hours.


However, It’s not over yet! It’s been a beautiful day here at our mooring off Dodsons Boatyard in Stonington, CT. Clear skies, gusting winds, and warm dry air. We were originally planing on heading to shore for a dinner out, but as the day started drawing to a close we simultaneously realized we wanted to spend our last night aboard Sequel. There’s so much life going on in this harbor, it’s fun to just sit and watch. Blue water sailboats abound and there’s at least a dozen DownEast style cruisers like Sequel. It’s our kind of place.


So I’m about to set up the grill and we’re going to enjoy the last sunset of our trip. I thought perhaps I’d leave you tonight with a tour of the home we’ve lived in for almost a month…

Till tomorrow, when we head home…


<– Back to ICW 23



One of my fondest childhood characters growing up is that of Babar the Elephant, created by Jean de Brunhoff. I loved that trouble-making elephant in a green suit, loved his world, and the characters that populated his world. And I still love elephants today, including Babar, Celeste, wrinkly old Cornelius, and Arthur. So how could I be worried about a hurricane named Arthur?

Day 20 – Stonington, CT to Stonington, CT in slow wind-driven circles, 4 miles (uneducated guess), all day

I woke up around 5:00am this morning and checked the marine and terrestrial forecasts for Stonington. It was saying wind speeds of 40 mph and torrential rains.

Humm. Could be interesting.

Then, later on, when Amy and I were watching Budapest Hotel in the saloon, both our phones started emitting a crazy tone and we both had this on our screens.

photo 1

Okay. And then when we looked at the Weather.com radar we saw this heading for us (with ‘us’ being the blue dot sorta in the middle)…

photo 2

Right. So today’s post is simple – we’re going to present you with a short montage of Weather On The Hour, By John and Amy Hanzl. Was Arthur all that he threatened to be, or was he gentle like a properly dressed French elephant? You be the judge…

Tomorrow is another day. Till then…


<– Back to ICW 22


ICW 22 – Leghorn


My mind is in a fog…

Day 19 – Sag Harbor, NY to Stonington, CT, 28 miles, 2 blind hours


Though to be honest, my mind is usually in a fog, so why should today be any different? Regardless, we made the dash from Sag Harbor to coastal Connecticut in order to find a good refuge for potential future weather. We’re tucked in good at Dodson Boatyard, behind two breakwaters and on a good strong mooring. Plus when we arrived this morning we fueled up, pumped out and loaded in 100 gallons of water. We’re stocked!

And to keep things par for the course, we had to arrive in a complete fog, everything shrouded in a swirl of mystery. It would have been awesome if it wasn’t so damn stressful. But awesome. And stressful.

(Yeah, I look a bit like Popeye in that sequence, but it was just that kind of light!)

Anyway – we’re a mere collection of miles from Sequel’s new home in RI. We’ve traveled an umpteen number of miles (don’t really know how many that is, but it’s a LOT), and we just can’t seem to make that last bit to complete the voyage. I don’t know – perhaps it’s kismet. Maybe we’re having too much fun. Regardless, we’re here. Tucked in for Arthur (Amy just pointed out that I spelled it ‘author’ – ironic). Or whatever remnants Arthur has to throw at us. All we know is that we don’t want to deal with seven to ten foot seas, so we’re here. Sorry Bella. But soon, we promise!

So today was all about zero visibility and the density of fog – which ironically isn’t dense at all. If you were to use our dinghy’s gas tank as a barometer for the weather we’ve been dealing with, it would have gone like this…

HOLY CRAP!  The gas tank is about to explode it’s so puffed out…
OMG – WTF!? – The gas tank is so sucked in it’s permanently deformed. Looks like a Kardashian’s cheeks.
YIKES!! – Freekin’ thing is huge! Well, guess it’s a good thing the tank’s so puffed out again – it’s no longer deformed…

Point being – it was FOGGY on the run to Dodson today. As in “I think this damn autopilot is turning us in circles but apparent;y it’s not” foggy. As in “I now fully believe in ghosts” foggy. It was that foggy. And we crept into the harbor in Stongington in complete blindness, with a huge anchorage to navigate, all blind. It was cool!

So our trip is almost over – but it’s not done yet. Amy’s sitting beside me watching a Facebook video of a dog who is now cancer free getting to unwrap a huge box of toys, and she’s crying. Life is good and we still have tomorrow to look forward to…

And we had fireworks tonight! TWICE!

Oh boy – the skies just opened up! It’s pouring out – Sequel is finally going to get a bath. Night all…

Till the winds blow fair for foul in the morn…


<– Back to ICW 21


ICW 21 – Sag


A day of leisure…

Day 18 – Sag Harbor, NY to Sag Harbor, NY, 0 miles (unless you count dinghy miles), 0 hours

So – I opted to delay my post of Sag Harbor for a day because I wanted to relate my trials and tribulations with the mooring ball at Oyster Bay. But that’s behind us, we’re at a mooring in Sag Harbor in the Hamptons (fah fah fah) – a place may I add, where they charge by the foot for a MOORING! Two dollars a freekin foot at that. I’ve never been to a place where you don’t pay a fixed (and small) fee for a mooring. But not here. Oh no, we called in advance several days ago and Amy had to give a credit card number and prepay. For a mooring. And they don’t even sell ice here! We had to do a separate dinghy trip to shore and walk to a bagel shop and have them bag ice for us, and then we had to carry 30 lbs of melting ice six blocks back to the dinghy dock (which, might I add, is banished to the very edge of the harbor – so as not to tarnish locked and posted docks that line the harbor with the 150 foot plus yachts), Anyway, good boat watching here, even if the winds have been ripping.


But I digress. We had a long run east from Oyster Bay yesterday – with pretty much nothing on the horizon or radar. Not even land. We did, however, see the Port Jefferson ferry (and by ‘seeing’ I mean actively work at not getting run down by it) – which has a very close personal connection to me, as I had ridden that very same ferry several years ago when I went to dive the Andrea Doria – known as the Mount Everest of scuba diving (to find out more about my experience with that, you can watch a presentation I gave that’s posted on the WGBH Forum network on that incredible trip).

And we also ran past a research vessel – Seawolf – that I saw as an AIS target miles before we came up on her.


AID indicated she was moored in the middle of the Long Island Sound, which was rather unique, so I hailed her on the radio to make sure our passing wasn’t going to interfere with any operations she had going on. Here’s the conversation…

John: “Seawolf Seawolf Seawolf, this is Sequel on one six.”
Seawolf: “This is Seawolf, go ahead Sequel”
John: “Hey Seawolf, we are approaching you on your port stern and wanted to make sure it was okay to pass. I see you’re moored.”
Seawolf: “Sure thing Sequel. Actually, why not run right pass us and give us a good wake.”
(Amy and I exchange surprised glances)
Radio silence…
Seawolf: “We actually have a wave buoy deployed and would love the data.”

Oh – cool! I reach forward and rotate the knob on the autopilot towards Seawolf. Fun! (By the way, I feature a ship by the name of Seawolf in my novel Out of Hell’s Kitchen, which you definitely should check out…)

Beyond that, it was just a long run with not too bad conditions. Until we ran through Plum Gut into Gardiners Bay between the “forks” at the eastern end of Long Island. Things then grew a bit unpleasant, but still not the worst we’ve experienced on the trip. And we timed the run through the Gut so that we did it at slack tide – we’re learning!

So Sag Harbor. Did I mention that’s it’s great boat watching? – and the accompanying people watching that goes with it. Last night we met up with Amy’s Aunt Joanne and her husband Mel. What fun people. They’re spending the summer in the Hamptons (but honestly, they’re down to earth people!) and they took us out to dinner. Great night – with the only downside being that both Amy and I were experiencing the “sways” after being on the boat for so long. But that’s okay.

photo 2 (1) photo 1 (2) image
Day 17 - 6

Day 17 - 3

photo 3 (1)

photo 4 (1)


Day 17 - 5

photo 5

Day 17 - 4

And today – well, as I mentioned, we bought ice. We actually took the dinghy to shore three times today. The first time was to go for a run, which was great as we were planning on spending the rest of the day drinking rum concoctions and hanging out on the bow – which is exactly what we did.

Day 17 - 1 SONY DSC

That’s about it – though to be honest, the big story is something that I’ve not even talked about. Arthur, aka, “the storm”, or to put it more colloquially, “oh crap!”. But that’s a story for tomorrow. At least, I hope so. As long as we can make the planned early morning dash.

Day 17 - 2

For now, enjoy the sights and sounds…

Till we dash to the coast…


<– Back to ICW 20



Today was a long day. Which was surprising, as we just ran east along Long Island Sound. Simple – but not so. And yet, it was an awesome day!

Day 17 – Oyster Bay, NY to Sag Harbor, NY, 76 miles. 4 hours 15 min

Day 17. Let me just marvel on that for a moment. Wow. Amy and I have been on Sequel for twenty nights – living on this little triangle of floating space for twenty two days. Shouldn’t we be freaking out by now? Straining at the perimeter of this relatively small space for our own individual spaces? If Sequel was a strip of land paced off at forty feet by thirteen and a half, perhaps. But our footprint is so much larger than the cubic feet of water we occupy at any one time. I suppose our space is more defined by the spread of our wake as we travel through this experience. Without waxing too poetic, I suppose our footprint is infinite and therefore that’s why we are so happy within it…

Right – well, the wind has been screaming around Sequel all afternoon. We’re in Sag Harbor at a mooring, with a crescent moon shining over us and the glow of at least twenty megayachts shining along the docks a quarter mile away. We’ve double run the mooring lines with this wind, and are happily living within the security of Sequel (with one of us tucked into bed and the other one writing this blog – eh hem, Amy…). But that reminds me of last night – and of the title of this post.

When a buoy becomes a man, aka – the haunting of John…

Last night – at Oyster Bay – was another wicked windy one. And another night at a mooring (we do love a mooring!). We had climbed into bed, with the slapping and gurgling and bouncing and jinking that I love so much while free floating at a mooring. My eyes were closed and the blissful peace of sleep descending on me like a blanket. Ah…

TAP tap tap TAP!!!!!!!!!


TAP TAP TAP!!!!!!!!

Damn it all to hell. The buoy that’s tied to the large pennant lines run from the mooring – the buoy that makes picking up a mooring so much easier – was floating beside the bow of Sequel, it’s long fiberglass rod politely knocking on the hull for attention. Ugh.

I crawl out of bed, slide open the door from the stateroom, stumble through the saloon and up the companionway steps. Slide open the hatch and fold open the door. Stagger across the helm deck, unzip the door to the cockpit and creep around the side deck and work my way up to the bow. Damn buoy. I drag it up onto the deck. Problem solved. I work my way back through the Get Smart maze of obstacles and back into bed, feeling a little proud of myself. Eyes closed I drift off…


The buoy is dragged off the bow (just beyond my resting head) and into the water – hitting every noisemaking protrusion on a fairly protrusion-laden bow.


I look at my phone – 11:00pm. Sleep John, sleep.


AAARGH!!!! (!!!)

Up I get – back through the sleep-deprived obstacle course and out to the bow. I’ll teach it – I’ll let out more line and get it away from the side of our hull. Hah!

Back to bed. Ahhh…




The stupid thing was now ringing our anchor (a rather nice 35lb QCR anchor on 25 feet of chain and 400′ of rode, but I digress). UP, OUT, CURSE, MORE SCOPE LET OUT, BED!




Holy crap! I’m up – laughing. Crying. Swearing. Contemplating just casting the entire cursed thing off and letting Sequel drift into the world at her whim. But I also knew what I had to do – what I always needed to do. I had to set up the mooring lines properly, which we didn’t do from the get go because someone previously had tied the two large pennants together with the pickup line and we didn’t fix the issue when we picked up the mooring. When I resolved it – it was now just after 3:00 in the morning – and crawled back into bed, I smiled. The buoy knew it needed to be fully on our deck and it wouldn’t rest until it got there. It won, and it got a good night’s rest, as did I, eventually…


I think I’ll post more about today, tonight, and tomorrow, well, tomorrow…

Till then, when you can learn what Sag Harbor is like…


<– Back to ICW 19