Six Elective Courses are offered by USPS. They cover separate and independent topics and therefore may be taken in any order according to a person’s interests and time.
Designed for mariners who plan to cruise for just a day or for a year—in either a sail or powerboat—this course covers the following topics: cruise preparation and planning, boat and equipment, anchors and anchoring, security, chartering, cruising outside the United States, crew and provisioning, voyage management, communications, navigation, weather, and emergencies. The manual includes a twelve-month cruise planning timeline.
The complete Engine Maintenance course consists of two modular sections. EM 101, Basic Engine Maintenance, provides information about marine propulsion systems, basic engine principles, engine components, controls, instruments and alarms, marine engine maintenance, and steering systems. There is a chapter on winter storage and spring servicing that includes a 25-step winterizing checklist. An 11-page glossary concludes the student manual.
EM 102, Advanced Engine Maintenance, delves into cooling and exhaust systems, lubrication, fuel and air induction systems, ignition systems, electrical and starting systems, power trains, and troubleshooting. The last chapter is on emergency repairs afloat. An 11-page glossary concludes the student manual.
This course deals with effective communication for speakers and teachers—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 audiovisual aids.
The new series of Marine Electronics courses is being structured into three new manuals: Marine Electrical Systems, Marine Communication Systems, and Marine Navigation Systems.
Marine Electrical Systems (MES) covers the practice of wiring your boat, including boat electrical wiring practices and diagrams, direct and alternating current power, galvanic and stray current corrosion, and lightning protection. Troubleshooting is emphasized throughout, so students should feel comfortable performing even tricky wiring tasks after passing this course.
Marine Communication Systems (MCS) is an in-depth, nine chapter review of communications systems available to the recreational boater. Radio history and spectrum definitions are presented along with definitions of radio circuits that the student should learn, to choose the best communications method for his/her situation. One chapter is devoted to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and another to FCC Rules and regulations. The remaining chapters cover 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.
Marine Navigation Systems (MNS) covers all aspects of electronic navigation using GMDSS as the foundation for modern marine communications. GPS is taught as the primary method of position fixing, and LORAN will be covered only as a historic sidebar topic. This will be a systems course—not “how to” navigate—that focuses on the use of electronic devices to augment the practice of safe navigation on the water. Topics include GPS, the Automatic Identification System (AIS), RADAR, depth sounder and related instruments, electronic charting systems, and a working understanding of the electronic bus structures needed to tie these devices together. The MNS course is still being developed.
Sail 2009 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.
The safety and comfort of those who venture out-on-the water have always been weather dependent. In this course students will become keener observers of the weather, but weather observations only have meaning in the context of the basic principles of meteorology — the science of the atmosphere. The course focuses on how weather systems form, behave, move, and interact with one another and reflects the availability of all sorts of weather reports and forecasts on the Internet. It is a general weather course benefiting those sitting in their living rooms, as much as those standing behind the helm.
Each student receives: a Weather Manual - USPS Weather - an explanatory text with full color photographs and drawings covering weather in the United States and its coastal and inland waters; a set of three Daily Weather Maps - learning aids with a complete explanation of map symbols designed to develop weather map reading and analysis skills; and NOAA’s Sky Watcher Chart - a reference to assist in identifying cloud types – helpful indicators of approaching weather.
If one or more of these courses interest you, locate a course in your area. If you're a USPS member, contact your Squadron Educational Officer and take a course at your squadron rate. We hope to see you soon!