Educational Department
P/C Chris Rose, SN, Education Officer


Boating courses are conducted by qualified, enthusiastic, and experienced USPS instructors and are provided as a civic service.  There is never a charge for instruction; the only costs are those for materials, plus overhead costs such as classroom rental, shipping and handling, sales tax, etc

The Squadron Boating Course is a traditional civic service of the United States Power Squadrons organization.  Since 1914 local squadrons have presented the course to anyone who wished to attend - to date more than 3 million people.  Learning to boat safely is important and the increased knowledge will enhance your safety on the water and your enjoyment of the sport.

The Squadron Boating Course is designed to be useful to all boaters, from the fisherman in an outboard to the skipper of a large cruiser or sailboat.  All boaters are subject to nautical rules and regulations.  Skippers should learn and respect traditional boating courtesies.  The courses are meant to be of interest to the entire family; older children are welcome.  We encourage your family to attend as a group.

The Squadron Boating Course contains sixteen sections.  There are homework questions at the end of each section to assist retention of the information presented.

The Squadron Boating Course covers topics such as an introduction to reading charts and plotting courses.  The major revision within The Squadron Boating Course 2004 edition is the introduction of Using Digital Charts.  The student manual comes with a CD-ROM, which includes the Maptech Chart Navigator software, a sampling of digital charts and maps across the country and digital versions of the fictitious Bowditch Bay and 1210Tr practice charts.  This new material is optional and may be taught at the squadron’s discretion. 

To enroll in a class or for more information contact our Educational Officer, P/C Chris Rose, SN, by emailing


For Squadron Members Only:

Advanced Grades

Elective courses

Learning Guides


Seamanship (S) No prerequisite
Building on the basics taught in the BoatSmart course, Seamanship is the recommended first course for new members, both power boaters and sailors. Students learn practical marlinespike, navigation rules, hull design and performance, responsibilities of the skipper, boat care, operating a boat under normal and abnormal conditions, what to do in various emergencies and weather conditions, nautical customs and common courtesy on the water. This course provides a needed introduction to the USPS Educational Program and a strong foundation for members going on to other Advanced Grades courses and/or Cruise Planning or Sail.

Piloting (P)  No prerequisite
Piloting is the first of a two-part program studying inland and coastal navigation. It focuses on the fundamentals of piloting -- keeping track of a boat's movements, determining your position at any time and laying out courses to a planned destination.  Included are such subjects as: charts and their use; aids to navigation; the mariner's compass; variation and deviation of the compass, plotting and steering courses; plotting and labeling charts; and dead reckoning.

Advanced Piloting (AP)   Prerequisites:  S & P
This is the final part of the inland and coastal navigation series.  It emphasizes the use of modern electronic navigation systems and other advanced techniques for finding position. Among topics covered are: tides and currents and their effects on piloting; finding position using bearings and angles, simple use of the mariner's sextant; and electronic navigation -- radar, loran, GPS, etc.

Junior Navigation (JN)  Prerequisites:  S, P & AP
Junior Navigation is the first of a two-part program of study in offshore (open ocean) navigation.  It is designed as a practical, how-to-course, leaving the theoretical and more advanced techniques for the Navigation Course.  Subject matter includes:  basic concepts of celestial navigation; how to use the mariner's sextant to take sights of the sun, moon, planets, and start: the importance and techniques of accurate time determinations, use of the Nautical Almanac; how to reduce sights to establish line of position: and the use of special charts, plotting sheets and other navigational data for offshore positioning and passage planning.

Navigation (N)  Prerequisites: S, P, AP, & JN
This is the second part of the study of offshore navigation. It further develops the student's understanding of celestial theory. The student is introduced to additional sign reduction techniques and develops greater skill and precision in sight taking, positioning and the orderly methods of carrying on the day's work of a navigator at sea.  Of particular interest and importance is the study of offshore navigation using minimal data and/or equipment, such as when on a disabled vessel or lifeboat.

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ELECTIVE COURSES -- No Prerequisites

Cruise Planning (CP)
This course is designed for members who plan to cruise for just a day or for a year in either a sail or powerboat. It covers such topics as:  planning a voyage, financing a voyage, managing commitments back home, equipping a cruising boat, selecting the crew, provisioning, managing a voyage, entering and cleaning foreign ports, emergencies afloat, and security measures.

Engine Maintenance (EM)
This course attempts to make students more self-reliant afloat, with trouble-diagnosis and temporary remedies given special emphasis. It covers both marine gasoline and diesel engines, including concepts of operation, maintenance, and repair. It covers such topics as: cooling systems, electrical systems, fuel systems, lubricating systems, power train components, and ancillary propulsion components.

Instructor Development (ID)
Unlike other USPS courses, this one isn't designed to enhance boating skills. Rather, it deals with effective communications for speaker and teacher -- a quality that benefits the individual in all walks of life. It offers practical instruction in:  preparing for teaching assignments; preparing for meeting presentations, effective teaching techniques, conducting efficient meetings, and selecting and using teaching aids.

Marine Electronics (ME)
This course teaches essential knowledge about a boat's electrical and electronic systems including: proper wiring, grounding, corrosion and electrolysis control, batteries and their maintenance, depth finders, marine radiotelephones, radar, loran, GPS, and other electronic positioning systems.

Sail (Sa)
This course is offered in two modules: Sail 101 and 102. They are taken separately and provide a thorough study of the terminology and dynamics of sailing. Material covered includes: types of hulls and rigs, running and standing rigging and their adjustment, hull and water forces causes by wind and waves, forces versus balance, the theory of sailing, points of sail, sail handling, sailing under various wind conditions, and navigation rules unique to sailboats.

Weather (W)
This course is designed to teach a student how to make weather observations and predictions for more enjoyable boating. Topics include: awareness of weather phenomena, how to read the weather map and sky, how to understand and anticipate weather developments, structure and characteristics of the atmosphere, factors considered in weather forecasting, sources and use of weather reports and forecasts, and instruments and visual observations the skipper can make.

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LEARNING GUIDES -- No prerequisites

These home study guides may be ordered through the squadron educational officer or directly from USPS Ship's Store at headquarters. They may be taken in any order.

Amateur Radio

Boat Design and Construction

Boat Insurance

Calculators for Navigation

Compass Adjusting

Global Positioning Systems

Introduction to Sailing

Knots, Bends, & Hitches


Navigational Astronomy


Predicted Log Contest

Preparation for Coast Guard License

Principles of Water Skiing Safety

Sight Reduction Methods

Skipper Saver

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