Tour the New Research Vessel R/V Neil Armstrong, an insider photo essay

June 26, 2016 by Beth Colt

new research vessel in Woods Hole

Woods Hole officially welcomed a new $100 million dollar research ship called the R/V Neil Armstrong on Saturday June 25th.  Over 25 years in the planning, this gleaming new floating laboratory was open for the day, with thousands of lucky visitors (including me!) invited on board for a full tour.

Woods Hole is the NASA of the ocean.  Led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, our tiny village is a world leader in understanding everything about ocean science.  I have been looking forward to my VIP insider tour since the invitation arrived weeks ago.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution WHOI

Our tour was led by Cyndy Chandler, longtime WHOI scientist and veteran of many “cruises” which is what the scientists call a research trip out on the boat.

new boat in Woods HoleOur group was pretty stoked as we boarded, looking up at this huge ship loaded with high tech gear.

Woods Hole research boats

Check out the Bridge of the R/V Neil Armstrong

First stop was the bridge, where we learned the ship is controlled by the tiniest wheel plus a couple of joysticks like a video game console.  The navigator explained that the technology of the ship’s engines allows them to remain in an exact location within a few inches if the seas are calm.

inside tour of research vessel in Woods Hole

What about inside the ship?

We traveled up and down the ship’s hallways, seeing bunk rooms, a floating hospital room, a fully handicap accessible room, recreational spaces and laboratories where the scientists do their work at sea.

R/V Neil Armstrong in Woods Hole

Cyndy explained how communications at sea have changed since she started at WHOI in the 1970’s.  She said the new internet connection was great for morale as shipmates can communicate regularly with loved ones, but sometimes she missed the quiet of leaving distractions behind.

Woods Hole scienceShe told us the labs were stripped of gear as each science cruise brings their own computers and equipment aboard.

research vessel in Woods Hole, interior

See the Galley of the R/V Neil Armstrong

The galley is where the 40+ scientists and crew eat all their meals.  The chef talked about the challenges of cooking and serving meals when the boat is in a rough sea.  I appreciated the small plastic sign he had over the serving area (“free beer tomorrow“) which he removed from the former vessel R/V Knorr before it was sold to the Mexican Navy.

visit inside the RV Neil ArmstrongOutside, we looked back at the Woods Hole waterfront from on high.  The ship feels at least four stories tall,

Woods Hole newsand I spied Quicks Hole Tavern and the Woods Hole Inn from this cool new vantage point.

visit to the research vessel Neil Armstrong

On the aft deck, they explained how experiments start with a huge crane that can lower equipment into the water as well as an ingenious system of deck bolts for ever-changing special gear.

visiting a research vessel in Woods Hole

Back on the Docks

Back out on the docks, there were exhibits, t-shirts, photo-ops and more.  I looked at the “CTD” device that measures conductivity, temperature and depth — one of many things lowered off the ship to collect data.

RV Neil ArmstrongGuides were wearing purple t-shirts with a graphic image of the new ship and the slogan “R/V Neil Armstrong — one giant leap for the ocean.”  In many ways, the mysterious ocean is one of the last unexplored corners of planet earth, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole is much like NASA in it’s mission to understand the darker corners of the deep blue sea.

exploring the RV Neil ArmstrongGoofing around at the end of the tour of the R/V Neil Armstrong with one of the divers suits, I am deeply appreciative of WHOI for their generous welcome, this amazing tour, and the ongoing science to which they are so dedicated.

Welcoming World Class Scientists, Everyday

It’s pretty cool living next door to all the big things happening at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  It can sometimes be a little intimidating to welcome these world-class scientists to the Woods Hole Inn, but we are reminded that while our research is focused on simpler things like good linens, spotless rooms and the world’s best home made granola, everyone needs a good night’s rest.

Woods Hole MA ocean research

The Woods Hole Folk Music Society

April 3, 2016 by Beth Colt


Presents “Bluegrass Gospel Project” on Sunday, April 3. Airtight vocal harmonies, stirring repertoire and roots firmly planted in the bluegrass tradition combine to produce complex and inspiring music from this group of unparalleled musicians. The “Bluegrass Gospel Project” explores and expands the tradition of bluegrass gospel, from U2 to the Stanley Brothers, Sam Cooke to Steve Earle. Its six members bring classic talent and variety of experiences to the band. Front man Taylor Armerding (mandolin, vocals), is a very familiar face – he led Northern Lights, the progressive bluegrass group that delighted WHFMS audiences for decades. On New Year’s Eve 2001, Taylor joined Gene White, Jr. (fiddle), Paul Miller (vocals, guitar) and Steve Light (banjo, Dobro, guitar, vocals) for a one-off performance. Playing to a packed house, their onstage chemistry and the music’s broad appeal was powerful beyond anyone’s expectations. The group continued to perform, with Colby Crehan (lead vocalist) and Kirk Lord (upright bass) joining in 2007. They continue to sweep audiences off their feet with smooth, blissful vocal work, seminal musicianship, and a camaraderie that few bands exhibit. Please join us in welcoming Taylor back to Woods Hole, as we finish our 44th season on a high note! The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Admission is $15, with discounts for members, seniors, youth, and children. The Community Hall is handicapped accessible. There is no charge for street parking after 6:00 p.m. More information is available at or by calling (508) 540-0320.

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“Making North Ameria: Life”

January 8, 2016 by Beth Colt


Presents the video “Making North America: Life” on Friday, January 8, at noon in Redfield Auditorium, 45 Water St., Woods Hole. How did massive volcanic eruptions, inland seas, and land bridges pave the way for life? Sponsored by the WHOI Information Office. Coffee, tea, and cookies served. Donations accepted.

Under the Waves- WHOI Science in Local Waters

June 7, 2015 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers work in ocean basins all over the world. But what’s happening in our local waters? Come and meet scientists, engineers, and other WHOI staff  and see some of the equipment used to uncover the mysteries within our own regional waters.

  • SharkCam
  • Make your own jellyfish
  • Imaging Flow Cytobot
  • Whale buoy
  • Squid, river herring, oysters, offshore canyons
  • and more


Exhibits will be on the lawn behind the Redfield Building, 45 Water Street, and at the WHOI Ocean Science Exhibit Center, 15 School Street.

James Cameron comes to Woods Hole

July 2, 2013 by Beth Colt

James Cameron loves Woods Hole.  He has been coming here for decades, first to meet with Bob Ballard and the team that discovered the Titanic for his hit film of the same title, later to research the underwater sequences for the international blockbuster Avatar.
When Cameron crossed the line from film-maker to explorer to built his own deep-sea submersible called the Deepsea Challenger, he became one with the scientists and engineers here, and his visits increased culminating in the donation of his incredible vessel to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

In Woods Hole last month with his whole team, Cameron talked about the team of engineers and his solo dive to the Mariana Trench, one at 11,000 meters one of the deepest places in the ocean.  His exciting journey to the bottom of the sea (think Abyss, literally)  gathered video and samples allowing for the identification of over 60 new species!

Cameron’s vessel Deepsea Challenger will live next door to us here in Woods Hole, where WHOI scientists can make the most of this incredible vehicle.   Here are a few photos of the donation ceremony, as well as a link to more information on the WHOI website.

We hope Cameron returns to Woods Hole to visit Deepsea Challenger, and that the legacy of this extraordinary gift to humankind continues it’s reach.  Woods Hole — a picture postcard village, postmarked around the world.

James Cameron and Susan Avery at WHOI Woods Hole, Cape Cod James Cameron donates vessel to WHOI, Cape Cod