United States Power Squadrons®
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Chattanooga Sail and Power Squadron

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-Coastal Piloting
-Offshore Nav
-Engine Maintenance
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Building on the foundation of the Boating Class, the usual approach is to take Seamanship, Piloting and Advanced Piloting in sequence after joining the squadron. These three classes cover the fundamentals of boat operation and navigation for the Tennessee waterways and the near costal waters.

Advanced Piloting can be followed by the Celestial Navigation series. The advanced grade classes build one upon the other as represented by the S, P, AP, JN and N letters following people's names.

Perhaps you would like to take some of the electives such as Marine Electronics, Sail or Weather. The electives do not have any prerequisites or preferred order, although Seamanship is usually taken first.

Classes are low cost, members are charged only for the cost of the materials. Non-members are charged an additional fee.

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Welcome to America's Boating Course

This is a basic introduction to boating course that does not assume any prior knowledge of boating. The student learns-

  • Introduction to boating, the types of boats and how they are powered
  • Boating law
  • Boat safety equipment
  • How to be a safe boater
  • Trailering and storage
  • State laws and regulations

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Welcome to Seamanship and Boat Handling

Building on the basics learned in Boating, the Seamanship course is an important foundation for other "advanced grade" courses.  The student learns -

  • Skipper’s responsibilities 
  • Inland and Off-Shore Rules of the Road
  • Before leaving the dock
  • Electronics for communication, navigation and fun
  • Boat handling under normal and adverse conditions
  • Docking and anchoring techniques
  • Marlinespike and knots hands-on
  • Boating emergencies, being prepared, basic First Aid


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Welcome to Piloting -- Coastal Navigation I

This course is the first of a two-part program studying inland and coastal navigation.   Its focus is on the fundamentals of piloting, keeping track of a boat's movements, determining one's position at any time and laying out courses to a planned destination.   Included are subjects such as -

  • Charts and their use
  • Aids to navigation
  • The mariner's compass
  • Variation and deviation of the compass
  • Plotting and steering courses
  • Dead reckoning
  • Plotting and labeling charts

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Welcome to Advanced Piloting -- Coastal Navigation II

This course is the final part of the inland and coastal navigation series. Its emphasis is on the use of modern electronic navigation systems and other advanced techniques for finding position. Among topics covered are -

  • Tides and currents and their effect on piloting
  • Finding position using bearings and angles
  • Electronic navigation - RADAR, LORAN, GPS, etc.
  • Danger bearings

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Welcome to Junior Navigation -- Celestial Navigation I

Junior Navigation is the first in a two-part program of study in offshore navigation. It is designed as a practical "how to" course. Subject matter includes -

  • Precise time determination
  • Use of the Nautical Almanac
  • Taking sextant sights of the sun
  • Reducing sights to establish lines of position
  • Special charts and plotting sheets for offshore navigation
  • Offshore navigational routines for recreational craft

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Welcome to Navigation -- Celestial Navigation II 

This course is the second part of the study of offshore navigation, further developing the student's understanding of celestial navigation theory. The course covers -

  • Overview of why celestial bodies appear as as they do on earth
  • Taking sextant sights of the moon navigational planets and stars
  • Additional sight-reduction techniques
  • Honing skills in sight taking and positioning
  • Electronics and software for offshore navigation
  • Orderly methods for the navigator's day's work at sea
  • Navigating with minimal resources, as in a lifeboat

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Welcome to Engine Maintenance

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 of  -

  • Cooling systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Lubricating systems
  • Power train components
  • Ancillary propulsion components

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Welcome to Weather

The safety and comfort of those who venture out on the water has always been weather dependent. In this course students will become keener observers of the weather and learn the basic principles of meteorology including -

  • Weather fundamentals:  highs and lows, fronts and troughs, jet stream, fog
  • Weather maps:  how to interpret forecast charts and descriptions
  • Forecasting:  how its done, what is predictable and what isn't
  • Cloud identification and what this means for the near term weather
  • Winds and waves:  when and why local winds do not follow the theory

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Welcome to Marine Electrical Systems

This course teaches essential knowledge about a boat's electrical systems, including -

  • Proper wiring
  • Grounding
  • Corrosion and electrolysis control
  • Batteries and their maintenance
  • DC System
  • AC System
  • Troubleshooting

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Welcome to Marine Communication Systems

This course teaches essential knowledge about Marine local and worldwide communications and safety systems, including -

  • VHF Communications
  • Digital Selective Calling
  • Long Range Communications (HF SSB)
  • Satellite Communications
  • Radio Troubleshooting and Maintenance


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Welcome to Sail

This class is to cover the needs of the novice and experienced sailor, as well as the non-sailor, for basic skills and knowledge. It cover such topics as-

  • Sailboat Rigs
  • Sail Plans
  • Boat Design and Hull Types
  • Sails
  • Standing Rigging
  • Running Rigging
  • Wind
  • Preparing to Sail
  • Sailing Upwind
  • Sailing Downwind
  • Docking and Anchoring
  • Marlinespike Seamanship


  • Wind Forces
  • Stability
  • Balance
  • Sail Shape
  • Tuning the Rig
  • Steering and Helmanship
  • Spinnaker Handling
  • Heavy Weather Sailing
  • Storm Conditions
  • Sailing Safety
  • Sailboat Racing
  • Race Management


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Welcome to Cruise Planning

This course is designed for members who plan to cruise for a year or just a weekend - in either a sail or power boat.  It covers such topics as -

  • Planning a voyage
  • Financing a voyage
  • Managing commitments back home
  • How to equip a cruising boat
  • Crew selection
  • Provisioning
  • Voyage management
  • Entering and clearing foreign ports
  • Emergencies afloat
  • Security measures

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Welcome to Instructor Development

Unlike other USPS courses, ID is not 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 is required for all public boating instructors. It offers practical instruction in -

  • Preparing for teaching assignments
  • Preparing for meeting presentations
  • Effective teaching techniques
  • Conducting efficient meetings
  • Selection and use of audio-visual aids



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