USPS Courses
& Seminars
DSPS Scheduled
Courses & Seminars
USPS Course and Seminar Descriptions
Boat Handling
Marine Navigation
Advanced Marine Navigation
Offshore Navigation
Celestial Navigation
Cruise Planning
Engine Maintenance
Marine Electrical Systems
Marine Communications Systems
Electronic Navigation
Radar for Boaters
Instructor Development
USPS Seminars
Boat Handling (S)
Boat Handling, which replaces the former Seamanship course, is offered either as a complete course or as six separate seminars. The complete course is an excellent introduction to the Advanced Grades courses for both sailors and power boaters. The course covers a practical approach to the nautical “Rules of the Road,” slow-speed maneuvering including docking and undocking, handling your boat underway, anchoring, emergencies on board, and the knots you need to know (and when to tie them). Prerequisite for members: none.

Marine Navigation (P)
Marine Navigation, formerly Piloting, covers the basics of planning and navigating, taking into account the variety of electronic devices available today. The course covers how to use chart plotter navigation software as well as paper charts, plotting tools, labeling, and dead reckoning. The course puts it all together by planning a day cruise. Prerequisite for members: none.

Advanced Marine Navigation (AP)
Advanced Marine Navigation, formerly Advanced Piloting, recognizes that there are many more advanced techniques to learn in coastal piloting: What are the shortcuts to determining your distance off a point of land? What do you do when your electronics fail? How do you make a safe passage at night or in fog or rain? What are the effects of the tides, currents, and winds on your course? The course puts it all together with a multiple-day cruise. Prerequisites for members: Boat Handling and Marine Navigation.

Offshore Navigation (JN)
Offshore Navigation, formerly Junior Navigation, is the first of two courses on offshore navigation. The course is designed with a practical “how-to” approach - leaving the theory and more advanced techniques to the Navigation course. The course covers precise time determination, how to use the Nautical Almanac, how to take sextant sights of the sun and how to reduce those sights to establish lines of position; the use of special charts and plotting sheets for offshore navigation; offshore navigational routines for recreational craft; and electronic and computerized offshore navigation. Prerequisite for members: Advanced Marine Navigation.

Celestial Navigation (N)
Celestial Navigation, formerly Navigation, is the second part in your studies of offshore navigation. Moving on from sun sights, the course covers finding position from sights of the moon, stars, and planets. You will learn how to navigate using minimal information — such as when you may be on a disabled vessel or a lifeboat. This course also deals with electronic software tools that can be used to plan and execute an offshore voyage. Most importantly, you will develop a greater skill in carrying out the work of a navigator at sea. Prerequisite for members: Offshore Navigation.

Cruise Planning
This course is preparation for a cruise, whether the cruise is for a day, a week, a month or longer - on rivers, lakes or across the oceans. How do you plan and finance the voyage? What equipment will you need? What about your crew? Is there more you should know about anchoring? What are the rules and protocol for clearing foreign ports? All this and more is in Cruise Planning. Prerequisite for members: none.

Engine Maintenance
Do you know how to care for and repair your engine? It's not that difficult! Engine Maintenance covers the design, maintenance and repair of marine gasoline and diesel engines, drive trains and propellers. The objective: self-reliance — you will learn to troubleshoot problems on your own boat — and the critical safety measures that go along with that. If you want to be a professional mechanic this course is not for you. But if you want to be a safe and responsible skipper — then you really should take this course. Prerequisite for members: none.

Marine Electrical Systems
This course starts with an explanation of what electricity is, followed by discussions on boat electrical wiring, DC and AC electrical systems, galvanic and stray current corrosion, lightning protection, and ends with troubleshooting of boat electrical problems. The course includes detailed instructions on how to use a multimeter, how to solder and crimp electrical wiring circuits, and how to read electrical wiring diagrams. This course can be used as a reference guide for anyone interested in properly maintaining their boat electrical system. Prerequisite for members: none.

Marine Communications
This is an in-depth review of those systems available to the recreational boater and aims to teach how to choose the best communications method for your situation. The course covers the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), FCC Rules and regulations, radiotelephone operating procedures, High Seas radio (MF/HF and satellite communications) ,and other systems such as Family Radio Service transceivers. There is also a chapter on troubleshooting of radio installations. Prerequisite for members: none.

Electronic Navigation
Electronic Navigation introduces GPS technology from the most basic receiver to chart plotter systems for navigation on board. Includes establishing waypoints and routes, using electronic charting software (on your computer) to create waypoints and routes and then downloading them to an onboard unit. Special attention is paid to apps for tablets and smartphones that provide the electronic navigation function at the helm for relatively little cost. Prerequisites for members: To get the most out of the course, students should be familiar with basic charting concepts such as latitude, longitude, the compass, course plotting, and time/distance calculation.

Radar for Boaters
Developed by Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, this course is up to date for radar technologies available now and into the near future. The course covers the different types of radar equipment, their capabilities and limitations, as well as their features and how they apply to students' needs. It covers what you need to know about radar, from how and where to mount the antenna to how to interpret the displays, so you can use your radar for collision avoidance and for navigational purposes. Prerequisites for members: America’s Boating Course; preferably also Marine Navigation and Advanced Marine Navigation, and have boating experience.

Sail is a complete sail course beginning with basic boat designs, rigging and sail processes for the non-sailor. The course proceeds into the physical aspects of sailing, sail applications, marlinespike, helmsmanship, and handling of more difficult sailing conditions, navigation rules, and an introduction to heavy weather sailing. Prerequisite for members: none.

Do you sometimes wonder if the weather forecasters have a window in their offices? Did you know that you can often predict the weather yourself much more accurately than the “experts” — using information that you can get just by looking at the sky? You will learn how to use a barometer, read a weather map, and why the “dew point” is important. Weather will give you insight into how storm systems develop and whether or not they will affect your boat. Prerequisite for members: none.

Instructor Development
Whether you are giving presentations in business or teaching courses for the Power Squadron, there is much to be learned by taking Instructor Development. You will learn to be comfortable with visual aids and speaking to a group. You will be given the opportunity to practice what you have learned by teaching segments of Boating or Advanced Grades courses. Prerequisite for members: none.