about the savannah river
sail & power squadron

UNITED STATES POWER SQUARDRONS® is a Non-Profit Organization Dedicated to Safe Boating and Maritime Education.

Learn more about the USPS and the SRSPS!

What We Do

Vessel Safety Check

The USPS & District 26

Cooperative Charting

Merit Marks

Our History

Who We Are

The Savannah River Sail & Power Squadron is located in Aiken, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, making it the only squadron in District 26 to span two different states. SRSPS members own powerboats, sailboats, houseboats, personal watercraft, rowboats, canoes and kayaks. Some don't even own a boat but have an abiding passion to learn more about boating and nautical science.

Our members are mostly local boaters who spend their time on the Savannah River, the SC coastal areas and local lakes. Some have cruised far and wide and offer a wealth of information about cruising inland waters and off-shore.

What We Do

The primary mission of SRSPS is boating education and safety, making boating more enjoyable.

Participating both on-the-water and ashore with fellow members.

Participating in various public service activities; some of which are listed here.

Vessel Safety Checks

In conjunction with the US Coast Guard and US Coast Guard Auxiliary, SRSPS conducts voluntary Vessel Safety Checks to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations. Vessels passing inspection are given the nationally recognized VSC decal.

The USPS and District 26

Founded in 1914 The United States Power Squadrons® is the world’s largest recreational boating organization, with 40,000 members in 31 districts and over 370 squadrons. For more than 100 years, we have worked to make the water a safer place through boating education, civic service and fellowship. With the United States Power Squadrons®, you can improve your boating skills and knowledge online, in the classroom with certified instructors, or outdoors with hands-on training. By joining America’s premier boating organization, you can have fun with other boaters on the water and on land! To learn more about The United States Power Squadrons®, visit their website.

The Savannah River Sail & Power Squadron is a member of District 26, which can be found here. District 26 acts as an itermediary between the individual squadrons and the national organization. District 26 serves 14 squadrons throughout South Carolina and coastal Georgia. Savannah River Sail and Power Squadron just happens to span both South Carolina and Georgia. You can visit and learn about the other squadrons in District 26 by visiting their District Squadrons Page.

*** By completing "America's Boating Course" you could be eligible for a lower rate on your boat insurance. Completing this course also meets the boating education requirements for operator permits of licensure in most states as well. ***

The USPS - NOS/NOAA Cooperative Charting Program

Cooperative Charting Program of the United States Power Squadrons is conducted in close coordination with the Marine Chart Division, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Program is a major public service of USPS. Under it, members supply information to the Marine Chart Division of NOS/NOAA leading to corrections to nautical charts, small craft charts, Coast Pilot publications and formerly, Small Craft Facilities. They also supply data on depth surveys, range status, tidal current surveys and geodetic marks and formerly, aeronautical charts. The Aid To Navigation Inspection program allows for damaged or misplaced Aids to be reported. The Adopt-A-Chart subprogram provides for individual squadrons to assume responsibility to keep a chart or a portion of a chart in their local boating area up to date and get recognition on new editions for their work. We have been told that the Cooperative Charting Program is recognized as the most effective user-participation program in all of the Federal services.

Merit Marks

A "merit mark" (MM) is awarded by the chief commander to a member for substantial personal effort in furthering the interest, programs and objectives of USPS, its districts and squadrons. It is a coveted award; it is by and large the only official recognition members receive for their efforts. Only one merit mark may be awarded in a year to a member, no matter how extensive the contribution. A certificate is issued, and a special insigne may be worn on USPS uniforms.

Recommendations for a merit mark are made by squadron, district, rear and vice commanders to the chief commander. Active, family and apprentice members may be recommended. For more information check out this resource.

Our History

Our charter with the United States Power Squadrons® is dated 4 May 1956, making us the second oldest squadron in District 26. The installation of charter members was held 22 September 1956. Our squadron was formed when Col. Thomas A. Pitcher, a member of the Potomac River Power Squadron, who was stationed at Fort Gordon, and a group of enthusiastic mariners decided to form a local squadron.

In a way, the birth of the squadron is a mystery! The Commander of District 17 (which at the time included all of the southeastern United States) received a petition for a Charter from Augusta, GA. He had no knowledge of any Power Squadron activity in this area - not even a hint. Yet there were twenty-one men in Augusta who had completed the sixteen-week Piloting, Seamanship, and Small Boat Handling course. In addition, many were ready for the Seamanship exam, and several were ready for the Advanced Piloting exam! And they were not even members! They had no squadron as a sponsor. They did it all on their own. The District 17 Commander probably didn't want to know how this was possible. However, with help from him and the Educational Officer of District 17, the necessary qualifications were met, and the Savannah River Power Squadrion was born.

Those who knew the details of our squadron's beginnings are now gone. But we can piece together some "facts" from stories passed on and through intuition. When Lake Thurmond (then Clark Hill Lake) was filling in the early fifties, Fort Gordon established a "Recreational Area" complete with motor boats for military personnel. The accident rate quickly became alarming and Col. Pitcher began to teach what is now the public Boating course. The course was much longer then and it included some information from our present day Advanced Grades. While it is not known how long this went on, it is known that he had help from another Colonel (who became Chief of the Signal Corps). Eventually civilians heard about these courses, one thing led to another, and the Savannah River Power Squadron was formed. Perhaps it can be said that, since Col. Pitcher was a member of the Potomac River Squadron and had to have a supply for squadron course materials, Potomac River was the unwitting sponsor of the Savannah River Squadron.

While the early efforts were all military, local civilians had much to offer. Many new industries were coming to this area and with them came many individuals with talent and experience. With the filling of Clark Hill Lake, the timing was right for an explosion in pleasure boating in the Central Savannah River Area. With it the timing was also right to estabilish a Power Squadron.

We have been very fortunate in attracting a continuous supply of gifted teachers to carry out the educational portion of our Pledge. With apologies to any who may have been overlooked, among the more dedicated and noteworthy early teachers were: Burgess, Carter, Douglas, Ewing, Griffin, Hankerson, Kauffman, Rachal, Shepard, and of course, Col. Pitcher - the very first. Our contemporary teachers continued to uphold the high standard of excellence exhibited by these early teachers.

During Fifty years of public service, the SRSPS has taught the USPS public Boating and Boat Smart courses to over 4,000 people.

Our squadron was instrumental in the formation of the Greenville Power Squadron in 1959, the Lake Murray Power Squadron in 1963, and the Thurmond Lake Sail & Power Squadron in 2000.

Because of reorganizations within USPS, Savannah River has served in three different district organizations. We started in District 17 and then became a member of District 26 when District 17 was split in 1960. In 1963 the North Carolina squadrons of District 26 Split off and formed District 27.

Five Savannah River Commanders have become District Commanders. They are P/D/C Ralph W. Faulkner, JN V, in 1960; P/D/C Albert Rachal, Jr., SN V, in 1969; P/D/C Rodney S. Cohen, Jr., N V, in 1973; P/D/C Don Coon, Jr., SN, in 1993; and P/D/C Edward C. Leibfarth, AP, in 2001. A number of members have served on District and National Committees. P/C E. Gray Swingle, AP, was a co-founder and first Captain of the D/26 honorary society, "The Order of Mariners"; and P/C James B. Robinson, JN V , was one of the Mariner's first bridge officers and he also prepared its Rules and Regulations.

SRS&PS was among the D/26 squadrons that started the initiative toward the division of the Advanced Piloting course into Piloting and AP. On several occasions our squadron has received National recognition for educational efforts and public service activities. Savannah River has won National Awards in the Teaching Aids competition and has achieved Cooperative Charting Honor Roll status many times. In 2002 our squadron received the Distinction in Journalism Award for the 13th time. One Savannah River Commander has received the District 26 Commander of the Year Award, three of our commanders have received the District 26 Ed Fetner Award, and two Squadron Educational Officers have received the District Educational Officer of the Year Award. Savannah River has also won the coveted District 26 Prince Henry the Navigator, Wolf-Ewing, Safety, and Membership Awards.

In 2000 the squadron's name was changed from the Savannah River Power Squadron, to the Savannah river Sail and Power Squadron to recognize our members who are dedicated to the art of sailing.

Our squadron has four members who hold Life Membership for twenty-five years of meritorious service. They are: P/Lt/C Stanley F. Goodman, SN, P/C John G. Campbell, AP, P/C Stephen G. Phillips, SN and P/D/C Edward C. Leibfarth, SN.