One of the main goals of the United States Power Squadrons is “boating safety through education”—we believe that an educated boater is a safer boater. USPS provides many skill building opportunities to the general public through a variety of courses, seminars, and marine-related guides. Our instructors are certified regarding their ability to teach and to use of modern instructional techniques. All classes are fun and informative, and bring you into contact with other boaters.
America's Boating Course - 3rd Edition is the latest public boating course offered by USPS to the general boating community. You may be familiar with our prior courses such as The Squadron Boating Course, Boat Smart, the original America's Boating Course, or Chart Smart.
America's Boating Course - 3rd Edition is all new with a completely updated manual, outstanding graphics, and two bonus computer disks. The course manual is divided into five chapters. The first four cover the required topics that all recreational boaters must know. In addition to the rules of the road, the four chapters cover the various types of boats, required safety equipment, navigation aids, lights and sounds, anchoring, communications afloat, adverse conditions, water sports safety, trailering, personal water craft safety, and knots and lines. The fifth chapter provides an introduction to digital charts and GPS waypoint navigation, a key skill for boating on larger lakes and rivers and coastal waters. This optional fifth chapter provides the background for more advanced piloting courses.
ABC3 may be taken as a classroom course (find a local course here) or as an interactive, PC-based home study course for people whose schedule and obligations would make it difficult to attend a classroom course. Whether you take the course in a classroom or self-study at home, you receive two bonus PC computer disks. The home-study Courseware CD utilizes guided instruction and numerous video and audio clips to provide basic boating safety information. In addition to the Courseware CD, the second disk—a DVD—provides Rose Point Navigation Systems' Coastal Explorer Viewer Edition software and the entire library of NOAA’s raster navigation charts so the techniques involved with waypoint and route planning may be learned on a Windows computer. Up to date, free digital charts are now available from a number of sources, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coastal Explorer Viewer Edition software may also be upgraded to the Coastal Explorer Express Edition, which adds GPS support, tide level and tidal current predictions, and much more to the basic Coastal Explorer Viewer Edition program.
After you sign up for the home study America's Boating Course - 3rd Edition, you will be contacted by a USPS member to offer assistance and to schedule a proctored final exam. ABC3 is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), is recognized by the United States Coast Guard, and is accepted by most states as meeting their requirements for getting a safety certificate, required in most states for operation of a water craft.
USPS has a series of short seminars covering specific topics of interest to boaters. Some of the topics that are available cover GPS, chart reading, VHF radio usage (including the Digital Selective Calling feature found on all new radios), and on-board weather forecasting. These seminars are usually taught in a single two-hour class. A student note book is included, along with a take-away guide or other items that are useful on your boat. Seminars on other topics are now being completed, and will be released in the near future. Get more information on USPS’s public seminars.
A series of booklets on a wide variety of subjects of interest to boaters, known as USPS Guides, are also available from USPS. Some Guides are also sold at marine supply stores and book stores. These guides are a great fill-in to complete your boating and marine-related education, whether you are out on the water or relaxing around the house.
Beyond these courses, seminars, and learning guides, USPS also offers a wide range of USPS University courses, from deck seamanship to advanced navigation; weather; marine equipment selection, use, installation, and maintenance; cruising; and sailing. These courses are available to the public, but members enjoy discounts making this a top reason for joining USPS. You can also build credit toward Boat Operator Certification, widely recognized credentials.