According to the website wordorigins.org, “Scuttlebutt is an early 19th century nautical term for an open cask of water kept on deck for use by the crew. The term comes from scuttle — to cut a hole in — and butt — a large cask. Sailors would gather about the cask and trade stories and gossip, much like modern office workers do at the water cooler or coffee pot. By the turn of the 20th century, American sailors began using the term scuttlebutt to refer to these sea stories and gossip. Eventually the term became associated with any gossip or rumor.”

Coast Guard offers gift ideas

BOSTON — This holiday season the First Coast Guard District has gift suggestions for recreational boating family members and friends. Many boating safety gifts are relatively inexpensive, but could serve as priceless lifesavers during emergencies, a news release said.

Marine supply stores and sporting retailers carry an extensive array of equipment and merchandise for boaters and paddlers, including the following items.

  • A 12-gauge flare gun with an assortment of flares attached
  • A wrap-around-the-waist belt pack inflatable life jacket
  • For a child, a new properly sized life jacket with a neoprene collar
  • A marine-band VHF radio
  • A hand-held Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon
  • A personal locator beacon

Stocking stuffer ideas include:

  • A rearming kit for inflatable life jackets
  • A Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher
  • A signaling kit, including mirror, whistle and air horn

Walt Taylor, recreational boating specialist for the First Coast Guard District, also recommended utilizing the winter months to take a boater education course. Course information can be found at the following websites or by calling the BoatUS Course Line at 800-336-2628.

For more information, visit the Coast Guard Auxiliary website at cgaux.org, the U.S. Power Squadrons website at usps.org, the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety website at uscgboating.org, or the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators website at nasbla.org.

Wooden Boat School issues course catalog

BROOKLIN — The Wooden Boat School has posted its 2011 catalog online. Courses for the school’s 31st year are designed around the arts of boatbuilding, woodworking, seamanship, and related crafts. To find course descriptions, registration fees, faculty biographies, an application, and more, visit the website at thewoodenboatschool.com.

First woman superintendent appointed to a U.S. military service academy

NEW LONDON, Conn. — A Dec 14 story on the website at marinelink.com announced that the United States will have the first woman superintendent at any military service academy when classes convene at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy next summer. The commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Bob Papp, selected Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, currently director of reserve and leadership, for the superintendent position.

Under the command of the current superintendent, Rear Adm. J. Scott Burhoe, the school was ranked as a top college by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and listed as the No. 1 college in the northeast by U.S. News and World Report. The school had five Fulbright and three Truman scholars during his tenure. Burhoe also improved the school’s diversity record, doubling the percentage of minority admissions from 12 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2010. Burhoe is scheduled to retire July 1.

Ocean Classroom offers Cruise for a Cause

BOOTHBAY — Sam Moskowitz of Rockland was one of a group of high school students, from Maine and beyond, to travel last March to Luperon, a small village on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The cruise aboard the Ocean Classroom Foundation schooner Harvey Gamage brought the students into contact with Village Mountain Mission and introduced them to the Salvador family, who had been living in inhospitable conditions. While they were in Luperon, the Ocean Classroom students built the family a new house, in just one week from the foundation to the roof. Prior to completion of the dwelling, one child in the Salvador family had to live in another town and two had been sharing a mattress placed on the dirt floor.

As a result of working for the mission, many of Ocean Classroom’s students plan on participating in future service projects, a news release said.

The Ocean Classroom Foundation would like to partner with the Village Mountain Mission on a regular basis so that building a home for a family in need becomes an integral part of the high school semester at sea program. Funds are needed for the costs of the students’ transportation, food and supplies while working on the building site. A fundraiser is being planned for the spring.

People can support this effort by joining Cruise for a Cause this winter. Ocean Classroom will offer a Caribbean voyage during February vacation week for adults who want to experience an abbreviated version of the same program students have been receiving since 1996.

To learn more about the cruise, contact Ocean Classroom Foundation Educational Director Alyson Graham at 633-2750. For more information visit the website at oceanclassroom.org.

Research facility opens Down East

GREAT WASS ISLAND — A Dec. 5 story by Sharon Kiley Mack in the Bangor Daily News reported that the Downeast Institute of Applied Marine Research, located on Black Duck Cove on Great Wass Island, has opened a new marine education center.

Formerly known as the Beals Island Regional Shellfish Hatchery, DEI has been conducting shellfish research for 20 years, the story said.

Public seminars, speakers, forums and classes can be held in the facility, along with research projects currently budgeted at $678,000. Those projects include:

  • $400,000 for research into multiple farming techniques for northern hard clams
  • $90,000 for oyster farming research
  • $163,165 to increase sea scallop harvests through stock enhancement
  • $25,000 to spawn and seed surf clams in natural field plots

The education center is part of a 9,000-square-foot facility that includes a commercial wharf and two working impoundments, Mack’s story said.