A Unit of  The United States Power Squadrons  Sail & Power Boating


Safe Boating Through Education


An IMPORTANT anouncement:


USPS Courses - click the following links for additional  information
Advanced Grades 
Elective Courses
Learning Guides
NNJSPS  Course Schedule

USPS Advanced Grades [TOP]

The advanced grades are a series of navigational courses and completion of the highest level course determines a member's "grade".  Letter grades may appear in print or on a member's uniform.

Seamanship Grade: S One bar (S or P insigne)

Building on the basics taught in the USPS Boating courses, Seamanship is the recommended first course for new members, both powerboaters and sailors. The student learns practical marlinespike, navigation rules, hull design and performance, responsibilities of the skipper, boat care, operating a boat under normal and abnormal conditions, what to do in various emergencies and weather conditions, nautical customs and common courtesy on the water. This course provides an introduction to the USPS educational program and a strong foundation for the other Advanced Grades courses (see below), and the Elective Courses Cruise Planning and Basic Sail.

Piloting Grade: P One bar (S or P insigne)

Piloting introduces the fundamentals of piloting and positioning -- the study of marine charts, aids to navigation, adjustment and use of the mariner's compass, dead reckoning, planning and plotting courses, and taking bearings to determine on-the-water position.

Two bars (S + P insigne)  is worn when the wearer has passed both Seamanship and Piloting.

Advanced Piloting Grade: AP One star flanked by two bars (AP insigne)

Advanced Piloting builds on the knowledge gained in Piloting to teach how to navigate safely in coastal waters -- predict tides and tidal currents and their impact on boat position, advanced positioning techniques, and the use of electronic navigation systems for positioning and course planning.

Junior Navigator Grade: JN Two stars with a single bar between them (JN insigne)

Junior Navigation begins the study of offshore (open-ocean) navigation -- integrated electronic positioning systems, sight taking with a mariner's sextant on the sun, moon, planets, and stars, how to reduce sights using the nautical almanac to determine position, and passage planning with special open-ocean charts.

Navigator Grade: N Three stars separated by two bars (N insigne)

Navigation further develops the understanding of celestial navigation theory and the skills in sight taking and reduction -- additional sight reduction techniques and the orderly methods of carrying on the day's work of a navigator at sea. Of particular interest and importance is the study of offshore navigation using minimal data and/or equipment, such as when on a disabled vessel or lifeboat.

USPS Elective Courses  [TOP]

A wide discipline of courses that cover topics other than navigation are also offered as part of the instructed course curriculum for members. 

Cruise Planning

This course is preparation for a cruise, whether the cruise is for a day, a week, a month or longer. Whether you are going to cruise on rivers, lakes, the coasts, or across the oceans, very valuable information is provided by those who have been there. The topics discussed are: planning the voyage, financing the voyage, equipping the boat, crew selection, provisioning, voyage management, navigation planning, weather, communications, entering and clearing foreign and domestic ports, anchors and anchoring, emergencies afloat, medical emergencies and security.

Engine Maintenance 101

This course module, 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.

Engine Maintenance 102

This course module, Advanced Engine Maintenance, delves into cooling and exhaust systems, lubrication, fuel and air induction systems, ignition systems, electrical and starting systems, power trains, and trouble shooting.  It concludes with chapter on emergency repairs afloat.

Instructor Development

Unlike other USPS courses, the Instructor Development course is not designed to enhance boating skills.  Rather, its emphasis is on enhancing instructor skills.  The course has been designed to demonstrate interactive teaching methods focused on adult learning.  Students are required to prepare lesson plans and give four presentations to their peers utilizing a variety of teaching aids and presentation skills.  Each presentation is to be given on a topic from on of the public boating classes with the intent that upon completion of the course every student will be qualified to teach or proctor at a squadron boating class.

Marine Electronics

The Marine Electronics course consists of three modules: ME 101, Boat Electrical Systems, ME 102, Marine Radio Communications, and ME 103, Marine Electronics for Navigation. There are no prerequisites for any of these modules: however, it is suggested that a member take ME 101 before taking ME 102. All three modules must be successfully completed to receive credit for Marine Electronics.

ME 101

Boat Electrical Systems, provides information about properties of electricity, electrical power requirements and wiring practices, direct current power, alternating current power, galvanic and stray-current corrosion, lightning protection, and electrical interference.

ME 102

Marine Radio Communications, delves into radio waves and transmitters, receivers and transceivers, antennas and transmission lines, FCC Rules and Regulations, FCC Frequency Plan, marine radiotelephone operating procedures, and other communication services (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), Digital Selective Calling (DSC), Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), satellite communications, amateur radio, and more).

ME 103

Marine Electronics for Navigation, presents information on depth sounders, RADAR, LORAN-C, GPS Navigation, and two new chapters: Electronic Charting, and Computer-Assisted Navigation (CAN). Members may take this module independent of any other ME module.

Sail 101

This course module, Basic Sail, provides a thorough study of the terminology of sailing; as well as information on the following subjects: 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, navigation rules. 

Sail 102

This course module, Advanced Sail, provides information on the following subjects: 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, navigation rules.

Weather Course Description

This weather course will furnish 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.  Wx 101 and Wx 102 use a USPS supplement manual together with The Weather Book from USA Today (second edition, 1997) as the textbook.

Wx 101

This course module, Basic Weather, provides information about the effects of Heat and Cold, wind and pressure, storms and fronts, rain, humidity, and fog, floods droughts, and winter precipitation.

Wx 102

This course module, Advanced Weather, provides information about thunderstorms and tornadoes, tropical weather atmosphere and clouds, forecasting and climate.

USPS Learning Guides  [TOP]

  • This material may be ordered by the public by calling 1-888-FOR-USPS.
  • USPS members please order this material, at a reduced rate, through your Supplemental Program Chairperson or your SEO
  • Amateur Radio - This program informs members of the procedures for obtaining radio licensing, and it includes other related information regarding shipboard radio.

    Boat Insurance -Providing information on the types and availability of insurance for boaters, this program addresses basic homeowner's coverage, additional coverage and yacht policies.

    Calculators for Navigation - A guide to the use of pocket calculators for the tedious computations related to navigation from coastal piloting to celestial navigation

    Compass Adjusting - This program describes "every method known to man" for the skipper of a boat with a plastic, wood or aluminum hull to determine a vessel's precise heading, in sunny or foul weather.  The use of the pelorus and the manipulation of compass corrector magnets are also included.

    Elements of Boat Design & Construction - Basic factors influencing design and shape of hulls, the effect of horsepower and propellers, rudders, steering gear and related maters are covered in this program.

    Global Positioning System - GPS is the premier worldwide electronic navigational aid.  Both handheld and ship-mounted units are becoming low in price; it's easy to use and the accuracy is impressive.  The GPS Supplemental Program includes accuracy comparisons with Loran-C and Digital GPS.

    Introduction to Astronomy - A pleasant, non-technical introduction to the wonders of the night sky.  No prior familiarity with astronomy is needed to enjoy this easy-to-read guide to stars, planets and major constellations.

    Introduction to Sailing - This program covers the basics of small sailboat handling, including nomenclature, relationship of wind to moving boat, action of the keel or centerboard, leeway, lee and weather helm.

    Knots, Bends, and Hitches (Marlinespike) - This manual is a practical guide to tying a variety of useful and decorative knots, bends, hitches and splices.

    Oceanography - This program covers marine geography including Earth crusts, tectonic plates, fractures and movement, ocean chemistry, the effect of weather on water, the physical aspects of tides, currents and waves and marine ecology.

    Plotting and Labeling Standards - Describes nautical plotting and labeling techniques and provides recommended standards for navigational use.

    Predicted Log Contest - The first part of this program is an introduction to logging, and the second part is for the experienced logger.

    Radar - Experts believe that after a compass, a depth sounder and a VHF radiotelephone radar is the next most important aid to consider.  Today's radar is easy to install, compatible with fairly small boas and convenient to use day and night.

    Sight Reduction Methods - A self-instruction guide to five popular methods of sight reduction: law of Cosines, Nautical Almanac (NASR), Modified Ageton, HO-229 and HO-249.

    Skipper Saver - A blend of two USPS objectives - education and safety - this program helps students acquire basic boat handling ability without frills of superfluous information.

    Water Sports - A how-to guide for water-skiing, board sailing, and personal watercrafts.


    Fall 2014 Course Schedule

    Course Dates pre-req FEE ** chairman
    Seamanship (S) Thursdays starting
     Oct 1
    None $60-M
    P/Lt/C Peter Scudder, AP Phone: 973-743-0601
    email : Peter Scudder
    Piloting (P) * Tuesdays starting
     Oct 14
    Seamanship $75-M
    D/Lt/C Robert Phillips, SN
    email : Robert Phillips
    Advanced Piloting (AP) * Tuesdays starting
     Oct 14
    Piloting $80-M
    D/Lt/C Robert Phillips, SN
    email : Robert Phillips
    Weather Wednesdays starting
    Oct 15
    None $75-M
    Lt/C Bill Cinque, SN
    email :
    Bill Cinque


    * - Either Piloting or Advanced Piloting (but not both) will be offered depending on sufficient enrollment.

    The Squadron policy is to offer any course which has 4 or more students enrolled. If you would like an additional course, PLEASE contact the Squadron Education Officer (SEO) or the Assistant Squadron Education Officer (Asst' SEO) and express your interest.

    Registration for Fall 2014 classes:
    Please phone or email to Course Chairman listed above or the Squadron SEO or Ass't SEO listed below. Please don't delay, the registration deadline is Tuesday, September 26th to allow sufficient time to obtain the course materials prior to the 1st class.

    CLICK HERE for detailed NNJSPS Course Descriptions (PDF) and information.

    Any questions; please contact either the :

    Squadron Education Officer SEO
    Lt/C Bill Cinque, SN
    Phone:  973-228-5329
    Bill Cinque

    Assistant Squadron Education Officer Ass't SEO
    P/C Joel Stoesser, SN
    Phone:  973-492-3849
    mail:   Joel Stoesser

    Classes are held at the squadron headquarters, St. Agnes Church, 65 Union Avenue, Little Falls, NJ.

    All courses begin at 1930 (7:30 PM) unless otherwise noted

    The USPS Ensign (Flag Design), "Wheel-and-Flag Design", "Officer Trident Design", "United State Power Squadrons", "USPS", "The Ensign", "the Squadron" with flag graphic, "Boat Smart", "Jet Smart", and "America's Boating Club" are registered trademarks of United States Power Squadrons.


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