United States Power Squadrons  

District 12

For Boaters, By Boaters™



United States Power Squadrons provides many educational opportunities to both the boating public and to its members. One of the key concepts of the USPS is the self-education of its members, meaning that successful students go on to teach other students to perpetuate boating knowledge. Course offerings for members include these elective courses as well as a series of Advanced grade courses covering a range of boating and booating education related topics.

The elective courses are a series of in-depth courses with a focus on boating topics other than navigation. Descriptions of these courses, are shown below.

Cruise Planning ( CP )

Designed for members 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.

Engine Maintenance ( EM )

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.

Instructor Development ( IQ )

This course is intended not only for those who wish to become instructors of USPS classes, but also for anyone who wants to develop or improve their communication and public speaking skills. The material applies to teaching, public speaking and conducting meetings. You will gain experience in making effective presentations, preparing lessons/lectures, using teaching aids such as overhead projectors and audio/video devices. The course work includes opportunities to sharpen your public speaking skills with an audience of understanding fellow students. A section covering current research on brain function and how the mind learns both short and long-term memory is included both as enrichment and as vital information for those who wish to teach classes.

Marine Electrical 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 Communications Systems

Marine Communications Systems is an in-depth, nine chapter review of those systems available to the recreational boater, or to those with whom he/she shares the water. 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 to set the stage for instruction of radiotelephone operating procedures (both voice and digital messaging are covered). 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

This course 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.

Sail ( SA )

The complete Sail course consists of two modular sections. Sa101, Introduction to Sail, teaches basic elements of sailing, including terminology, sailboat rigs and sail plans, boat design and hull types, sails, standing & running rigging, boat, true, and apparent wind, leaving and returning to dock, sailing upwind and downwind, marlinespike for sailors, and basic sailing rules.

Sa102, Advanced Sail, teaches forces, stability and balance, sail trim, tuning a rig, steering and helmsmanship, spinnaker handling, heavy weather sailing, survival in storm conditions, safety procedures, racing and race management, and complete navigation rules for sailing vessels.

Weather ( W )

The Weather course furnishes basic weather knowledge for safer and more enjoyable boating. The student will learn to make weather predictions based upon observations of the sky, upon barometer and wind information, as well as weather data provided by maps, satellite images, and radio and TV broadcasts. Wx101 and Wx102 use a USPS supplement manual together with The Weather Book from USA Today as the textbook.

Wx101, Basic Weather, includes: effects of heat and cold, wind and pressure, storms and fronts, rain, humidity, and fog, and floods, droughts, and winter precipitation. Wx102, Advanced Weather, includes: thunderstorms and tornadoes, tropical weather, atmosphere and clouds, forecasting, and climate. PowerPoint slides showing cloud formations are used in the course.

Note: There are no prerequisites for Elective Courses.