Sail &Power

A unit of United States Power Squadrons

Beaverton Squadron burgee



Current Events

Educational Programs

Cooperative Charting


USPS Educational Program

Our upcoming classes are listed in the schedule of classes.

Beaverton Sail & Power Squadron presently holds its educational courses in various Tualatin Valley Fire District community rooms on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, starting at 1900 and ending at 2100. Courses normally start in September and February and run for ten to twelve weeks. Junior Navigation and Navigation involve taking celestial sights and are usually continued over the summer.

All courses and seminars are open to the public. A member of USPS can take a course with any Squadron. Members are notified of course schedules through articles in Beaverton Sail & Power Squadron’s monthly publication, The Foghorn, the website calendar, and by telephone.

Another recent addition to the Education Program is the On-The-Water training.  This can be part of the Seamanship class (see below for course description), as part of a public class, or as part of the Boat Operator’s Certifications (BOC) program.  For more information on these elements contact our Squadron Education Officer, Mike Kondrat, 503-819-2775,

.For members, the fee for each course includes only the costs of course material, processing and examination costs. The cost for non-members may be higher, depending on the course. Fees are paid when books are purchased and when exams are given. All final exams are sent to USPS for grading, and the member is notified by mail of passing. In the case of failure, re-examination can be arranged.



Courses are divided into four types - Basic Courses, Advanced Grades, Electives, Seminars, and Learning Guides. The advanced grades are designed to be taken in sequence after the Basic Courses, beginning with Seamanship and progressing through Piloting, Advanced Piloting, Junior Navigation, and Navigation. The seminars can be presented to the public, and can be an excellent introduction to USPS!



Basic Boating Course: This is a 6-week, in-depth class in boater education. Instruction is free; however, there is a charge for the materials which include the certificate of completion for those passing the exam. This certificate more than satisfies the State of Oregon’s requirements for boater education. Classes are offered in the spring and fall. Call Rick Rafferty at 503-640-6792 for class schedule.

Boat Smart Course: This is a three-day introductory class in boater education. Instruction is free; however, there is a charge for the materials which include the certificate of completion for those passing the exam. This certificate satisfies the State of Oregon’s requirements for boater education. Classes are offered in the spring and fall or as interest requires. Call Rick Rafferty at 503-640-6792 for class schedule.


Seamanship (S): The Seamanship course is a natural first/next step in building a foundation for confidence and competence for safe and enjoyable boating on the water. It extends the knowledge and skills of the boater in handling and maneuvering a vessel, either sail or power. The course provides a better understanding of how boats behave under various conditions including close quarters and open water operations. Knowledge and skills are increased in the areas of anchoring, emergencies, rules of the road, and marlinspike/basic knots. Appendices include information to safe operation in waters of our neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico. The course content and then continuing on with our coastal navigation courses should help in preparation for completion of the US Coast Guard licensing examination. An On-The-Water component can enhance the learning experience.

Piloting (P): This is the first of a two-part program studying inland and coastal navigation. It focuses on the fundamentals of piloting - keeping track of a boat’s movements, determining your position at any time and laying out courses to a planned destination. Included are such subjects as: charts and their use; aids to navigation; the mariner’s compass; variation and deviation of the compass; plotting and steering courses; dead reckoning; and plotting and labeling charts.

Advanced Piloting (AP): This is the final part of the inland and coastal navigation series. It emphasizes the use of modern electronic navigation systems and other advanced techniques for finding position. Among topics covered are: tides and currents and their effects on piloting; finding position using bearings and angles; simple use of the mariner’s sextant; and electronic navigation - radar, loran, GPS, etc.

Junior Navigation (JN): This is the first of a two-part program of study in offshore (open-coast) navigation. It is designed as a practical, how-to course, leaving the theoretical and more advanced techniques for the Navigation Course. Subject matter includes: basic concepts of celestial navigation; how to use the mariner’s sextant to take sights of the sun, moon, planets and stars; the importance and techniques of accurate time determination; use of the Nautical Almanac; how to reduce sights to establish lines of position (LOPs); and the use of special charts, plotting sheets and other navigational data for offshore positioning and passage planning.

Navigation (N): This is the second part of the study of offshore navigation. It further develops the student’s understanding of celestial theory. The student is introduced to additional sight reduction techniques and develops greater skill and precision in sight taking, positioning and the orderly methods of carrying on the day’s work of a navigator at sea. Included is lifeboat-navigation, using minimal data or equipment.



Engine Maintenance (EM): This course deals with basic design and construction, operating principles maintenance and repair of gasoline and diesel engines. Various systems - fuel, electrical, cooling and lubrication - are studied. The course covers those repairs that do-it-yourselfers can perform, teaches how to diagnose problems that might be beyond their ability to fix, and how to share information with the marine mechanic so the right repairs get performed.

Sail (SA): This course teaches terminology, types of rigs and hulls, signals and rules of the road, theory of sailing, balance of hull and sails, stability, true and apparent wind, points of sailing, handling, anchoring, mooring, and docking, laying up and fitting out.

Marine Electronics (ME): Now done in three segments, this course contains essential knowledge about a boat’s electrical and electronic systems, including wiring, grounding, electrolysis, batteries and their care. Also covered are depth finders, marine VHF and shortwave radios, radar, GPS, and other electronic positioning systems.

Weather (W): This course teaches an awareness of weather phenomena, how to read a weather map and the sky, and how to understand and anticipate weather developments. The atmosphere and its characteristics; global weather and other factors that affect forecasting are studied as well as clouds, air masses, fronts, storms and fog.

Cruise Planning (CP): This course encompasses the data from all of the courses as applied to planning for and actually going on a cruise. Topics include equipping a cruising boat; selecting the crew; provisioning; managing a voyage; clearing foreign ports; emergencies afloat; and security measures.


A new feature of USPS educational programs is a series of seminars.  These are 1-4 hour presentations on topics such as

Several more seminars are nearing completion and will be available soon, such as Knots for Mariners, Using Digital Charts, and Heavy Weather Sailing.

These seminars are being offered as interest is determined. BSPS and the other Squadrons in District 32 have presented many of these in the past.  If you see something that you’d like to have presented contact Mike Kondrat, 503-819-2775,, to make arrangements for any of these programs.



In addition to the above instructed courses, members may study topics in self study programs. They range from Knots, Bends, and Hitches through Compass Adjusting, Amateur Radio, Skipper Saver, and Navigational Astronomy.


For a complete list of course offerings, or for any other educational matter, please contact:
Mike Kondrat,