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Educational Department
- Boat Operator Certification - On The Water Training Committee -

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Boat Operator CertificationBOC Logo

This site is provided as a means of communications with the USPS National Boat Operator Certification - On The Water Training Committee (BOC-OTWTrCom). We welcome your questions and comments on all aspects of boat operator certification.

R/C Scott McDonald, SN
Stf/C Bob Holub, SN
Stf/C Travis Smith, SN





Hot New InformationBOC National Training Schedule

The latest BOC nationwide training schedule is available in PDF format (103KB). Squadrons that are considering, or have scheduled, upcoming BOC training (IN/INC/INCT, POTW, CN, etc.) in their area should contact Don Funderburk with the details identified in the public schedules so he can include them in the nationwide schedule. All updates, additions, and deletions should be coordinated with Don Funderburk, SN, BOC Schedule Manager using the OTW Schedule Input Form or via phone at 912-659-0471 (Cell), or e-mail (18 Jan 17)

Important Changes in Practical On-The-Water Training Program

The following files describe important changes to the POTW program. Questions should be directed to the Chair of the BOC Committee. (15 Apr 16)

On-the-Water Training Guides with USPS Courses

A presentation (896KB, PDF) was given at the January 2015 Annual Meeting that was very informative for all squadrons and districts. Squadrons and districts are encouraged to use this information to increase participation in their educational programs. (22 Feb 15)

Building Your On the Water Program

On-the-water training and certification is an essential tool for Squadrons and Districts. It provides a number of direct benefits, including increased membership and member involvement. Getting your own program started is easy. See this new presentation on Building Your On the Water Program (1140KB, PDF or 1350KB, PPTX) to find out more. (16 Mar 14)

BOC Certifiers Re-Certification Policy

Starting April 1, 2014, all BOC and POTW Certifiers at any level will have to re-certify every 4 years in order to maintain their status. Complete details of the procedures to be followed are in this PDF document (10KB). (14 Dec 13)

New Endorsement Handbook Available for Download

A new Endorsement Handbook is available for download. It explains the endorsements currently available. (06 Nov 13)

New Inland, Coastal, and Advanced Coastal Navigator Guides Available for Download

Updated Inland, Coastal, and Advanced Coastal Navigator Guides are now available under the Requirements section of this web page. Updated checklists for Inland and Coastal Navigator certification are also available, under the Program Material and Forms section of this web page. (01 Nov 13)

Want to Know How to Become an Inland Navigator?

R/C Ron Osburn, SN, ARD for the Southeast region, has prepared a short document on how to become an Inland Navigator. Click here to download the PDF file (50KB). (05 May 13)

New Advanced Coastal Navigator Information (Updated)

The Advanced Coastal Navigator (ACN) Passport is now available in the Educational Department On-Line Catalog and Shopping Cart under BOC. The ACN Handbook and ACN program requirements are available under the ACN section of this page. Note that the ACN Handbook must be downloaded from this page, as well as all forms and the ACN checklist. (06 Jan 13)

USPS Boat Insurance Educational Discounts

The premise behind the USPS Boat Insurance Program is to reward members for their dedication and passion for on-the-water safety by providing reduced insurance premiums.  On top of low base rates, USPS Boat Insurance customers can reduce their premium even further, up to 23%, through completion of various USPS advanced courses. See the USPS Boat Insurance web page for details. And completing boat operator certification can add to these discounts as well, as noted on the BOC discounts web page. (31 Oct 11)

Up and Running

The Boat Operator Certification program is up and running. The material to start members on their journey to Certification is in stock at Headquarters. SEOs can now order the Inland Navigator, the Coastal Navigator, or Advanced Coastal Navigator package using the On-Line Catalog and Shopping Cart. If your Squadron does not have a BOC Certifier, please submit a recommendation and have that person update his/her USPS resume on line. Many answers to questions can be found on this page or in the materials listed on this page; you can also contact any certifier or the National Boat Operator Certification - On The Water Training Committee. (01 Nov 13)

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Background and Overview

With the Boat Operator's Certification Program, USPS will certify USPS members at various levels of recreational boating proficiency.  We expect that these certifications will be recognized across the boating community, both domestically and internationally.  In the United States, The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has asked congress to authorize the Transportation Secretary to establish requirements for standards of proficiency for recreational boaters.  We intend to have USPS certification accepted as the above proof and be accepted as the national certificate for the USA.

Regarding international recognition, we plan to have USPS certifications meet the requirements of UN Resolution 40, International Certificate for the Operation of Pleasure Craft with the additional knowledge and testing of the CEVNI (European code for inland waterways) navigation rules.

USPS currently plans four levels of Boat Operator Certification:

  • Inland Navigator
  • Coastal Navigator
  • Advanced Coastal Navigator
  • Offshore Navigator

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Advantages for Members

A certificate of operator proficiency will be of value to USPS members when:

  • Renting, chartering or leasing a boat, especially in another country
  • Obtaining insurance
  • Engaging in competition
  • Speaking in public
  • Testifying as an expert witness
  • Lobbying
  • Serving on an advisory panel
  • Being quoted in the media
  • Being introduced in a public setting
  • Publishing articles or books
  • Building confidence in your own abilities
  • Learning to teach others OTW

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Certification at any level requires successful completion of all prescribed elements including:

  • USPS courses - completions are tracked at USPS Headquarters
  • USPS and/or non-USPS seminars - signed off by instructor and tracked at Headquarters
  • Skill demonstrations on the water or, in some cases, ashore - signed-off by trained certifier and tracked at headquarters (some may be US Sailing programs)

To be certified, a member must be at least 16 years of age, be mentally and physically capable of operating a boat, and have sufficient visual and auditory sensory ability to do so. Holding a driver's license will suffice to certify meeting these requirements.

Inland Navigator (IN) Requirements:

Inland Navigator Guide (142KB, PDF)(Sep 13)

  • Courses
    • NASBLA approved safe boating course
    • Seamanship (or S 101 and S 102)
    • Engine Maintenance (EM)
    • Marine Electronics or Marine Electrical Systems or ME 101
  • Seminars
    • How to Use a Chart (CHT) (or Piloting, Chart Smart, or Boating courses)
    • Basic Weather and Forecasting (BWF) or Onboard Weather Forecasting (OBWF) (or Weather course or Weather Modules)
    • Using GPS (GPS) (or the new P or AP course)
    • VHF Radio and VHF/DSC Marine Radio (or ME 102 or Marine Communications Systems)
  • Skills
    • BPH - Basic Powerboat Handling skill demonstration or US Sailing Safe Powerboat Handling on-the-water program
    • FE - Use of Fire Extinguishers
  • Optional Endorsements
    • IW - Inland Waterways (Navigating Rivers, Dams and Locks seminar)
    • PAD - Paddle craft (canoes and kayaks) - Paddle Smart seminar
    • SA - Sailboating (or Sail or Sail Modules)

Note: The optional SA endorsement is required to be IN certified to operate a sailboat. The optional PAD endorsement is required to be IN certified to operate a paddle craft.

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Coastal Navigator Requirements

Coastal Navigator Guide (Must be downloaded, not supplied as part of the CN kit, 152KB, PDF)(Sep 13)

  • Prerequisite
    • IN Certification
  • Courses
    • Piloting
    • Weather
    • Marine Communications or Marine Radio Communications (ME102)
  • Seminars
    • Mastering Rules of the Road
    • Anchoring
    • Mariner's Compass
    • Tides and Currents (or AP course)
    • Optional Seminar: Marine Radar
  • Skills
    • NAV - On-Water Navigation
    • PD - Use of Pyrotechnic Distress Signals
  • Optional Endorsements
    • IN Endorsements plus:
      CAN - Canadian Regulations
      MEX - Mexican regulations

Note:  CN certification to operate a sailboat requires the SA endorsement. CN certification for paddle craft requires PAD.

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Advanced Coastal Navigator Requirements

Advanced Coastal Navigator Guide (Must be downloaded, not supplied as part of the ACN kit, 171KB, PDF)(Sep 13)

  • Prerequisite
    • IN Certification
    • CN Certification
  • Courses
    • Advanced Piloting
    • Cruise Planning
    • Marine Navigation Systems or ME103
  • Seminars
    • Emergencies on Board (EO)
    • Marine Radar (This was optional for CN, but is required for ACN even if the candidate completed AP 2005 or later.)
  • Skills
    • FA - First Aid (Offered by American Red Cross or American Heart Association)
    • ADN - Advanced Navigation
  • Recommended by not Required
    • CPR/AED - (Offered by American Red Cross or American Heart Association)
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Offshore Navigator requirements will be posted when finalized. The Offshore Navigator program will be released in the Fall of 2016.

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BOC Endorsements certify special additional skills such as type of boat or region of boating; examples include Canadian Regulations, or paddle or sail boats.  Endorsements may be applied at any level of BOC certification.

The Endorsement Handbook (45KB, PDF) is available for download (06 Nov 13)

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Members pursuing certification will have a "BOC Passport" to record their progress. Passports may be purchased by the SEO from HQ. These will be signed by appropriate certifiers. For courses, seminars and skill demonstrations completed before the issuing of the passport, the SEO or certifier can sign the appropriate spaces based on national or squadron records. It is important for the member to keep a passport and for squadron certifiers to keep back-up records of these events until entered into the database.

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Mechanisms already exist for tracking member course and seminar completions at USPS HQ. However, the skill demonstrations require certifiers. The certifiers' key roles are to observe and certify demonstrations of skills and document them. Skill demos will be recorded both at Headquarters and on the member's BOC passport.

In some cases, credit may be given for skill demonstrations and seminars based on boating experience or other programs. Certifiers will assist in the preparation, processing and approval of such equivalencies. In addition, certifiers will also assist in the preparation, processing and approval of applications for certification. Certifiers will also serve as local experts and resources regarding certification for their own squadrons and districts, and will teach others how to perform the duties of a certifier.

IN, CN, ACN, ON Certifiers

Specially trained Certifiers, at each level, may certify OTW skills at their level.

IN, CN, ACN, ON Certifier Trainers

Specially trained Certifiers at each level, who have attended a Trainer School event and are recommended by the BOC Committee, may train Certifiers at their level.

Regional Directors

For purposes of Boat Operator Certification, we have defined eight geographic regions each consisting of from one to eight USPS districts. A Regional Director of certifiers or Regional Director is responsible for BOC activities in each region. Regional Director approval is required for most certification documents including applications, equivalencies and certifier nominations. All certifiers in a region report to the Regional Director who in turn reports to the NEO or his delegate. Regional Directors should have good presentations skills as they will be frequently training other certifiers. A regional Director may have one or more assistants. Regional Directors are nominated by DEOs and approved by the NEO.

Region Table
Regional Directors

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BOC Web Tools

Various tools and information of use to certifiers and education officers is available on the BOC Tools web page. Click on "Documents" on that page to get helpful information on using these tools. (27 Mar 14)

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Program Material and Forms

Warning: Some of these files are very large. A high speed or broadband Internet connection is required.

Training and Reference Materials

Official BOC Forms All BOC forms are now online on the BOC Tools web page. (27 Mar 14)

  • ED-C1 - Skill Demonstration Record
  • ED-C2 - Equivalency Record - Skill Demonstrations
  • ED-C3 - Equivalency Record - Seminars
  • ED-C4 - Certification Application
  • ED-C5 - Certifier Nomination Form

Certifier Checklists in PDF format.

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Questions or Comments?

If you have any questions or comments about any aspects of boat operator certification, please contact the National Boat Operator Certification - On The Water Training Committee chairman by e-mail, phone or postal service mail.  Please be sure to keep your SEO and/or DEO advised of any correspondence you may have with the National committee. Addresses for the National BOC-OTWTrCom chairman are listed in The ENSIGN and on the Committee Chairpersons page.

If you are interested in becoming a member of this committee, submit a resume on-line at the Committee on Nominations web site.

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This page last updated Friday, May 5, 2017 20:58