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Educational Department
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America's Boating Course CoverAmerica's Boating Course - 3rd Edition

America's Boating Course - 3rd Edition is our primary civic effort toward public instruction in the fundamentals of safe boating.  Both short (8-hour) and long (16-hour) formats are designed to familiarize the student with the fundamentals of safe boating and qualify for certification in most states that require boating education before operating a watercraft.

The short (8-hour) version covers the basics needed to operate a boat safely, and is a replacement for previous short USPS courses such as Boat Smart and the 8-hour version of The Squadron Boating Course.

The long (16-hour) course covers all that's included in the 8-hour course and adds basic information on both paper and digital charts and basic piloting techniques, equivalent to the full version of The Squadron Boating Course.




NewsSpanish ABC3 Cover

  • 2015 Printing ABC3 Errata. An updated errata sheet dated 21 April 2017 for the 2015 printing of ABC3 is available in the Downloadable Materials section of this web page. (26 Apr 17)

  • Spanish Language Versions of America's Boating Course Now Available. America's Boating Course is now available in Spanish or English language online. The Spanish classroom version materials may be obtained from the USPS Educational Department Online Catalog. The student manual is free courtesy of a USCG grant. There is a $5.00 fee per book to cover shipping, handling, ancillary course materials and required student database support. A bi-lingual instructor PowerPoint is in progress, as is translation of the state-specific examinations. (26 Apr 17)

  • Managing ABC Internet Students, Squadron and District Guide. An updated ABC3 guide for use with the 2015 printing of America’s Boating Course 3rd Edition by squadrons and districts to manage ABC3 Internet students is available in the Downloadable Material section on this web page. (09 Jan 17)

  • Updated Exploring HQ-800 Presentation. The latest PowerPoint presentation of EXPLORING HQ-800 is now available for download and presentation at District conferences and educational training sessions. See the Downloadable Material section of this page, under HQ-800 User Self-Help/Education. (28 Dec 16)

  • Using Microsoft Edge Browser To Create and Print Student Certificates and Wallet Cards. If you’re using Microsoft Edge as your browser, there is a tip to allow you to create and print student certificates and wallet cards. (11 Nov 16)

  • Spanish Translations of ABC3 Exams. The ABC3 2015 assessment examination package, ABC3 assessment exam 1A, ABC3 2015 assessment exam 1B, and ABC3 2012 part 2 examination for Chapter 5 (no change), have been translated to Spanish and may be downloaded from the EdDept State Boating Information pulldown. This site is password protected and the examinations may be obtained through your District Education Officer (DEO). The 2012 translated exams remain available through the Materials Catalog at no charge. The 2015 examinations are being processed for Catalog access. (06 Mar 16)

  • 2012/2013 ABC3 Materials. The 2015 NASBLA approved ABC3 materials are the only education products for ABC3 being shipped. In recognition of the financial impact on squadrons with 2012/2013 Student Manual in stock, use of these Student Manuals should continue until stocks are consumed then transition to the 2015 Student Manual. Effective 1 January 2016, only 2015 ABC3 Instructor materials embedded in the 2015 ABC3 Instructor Kit CD are to be used (Instructor Manual/examinations/PowerPoint).

    To facilitate their use the ABC3 web page will continue to present information regarding the 2012/2013 Student Manuals through 2016. (08 Feb 16)

  • ABC3 On-The-Water Teaching Guide Included in Student Manual

    The 2015 printing of the ABC3 Student Manual includes the approved ABC3 On-The-Water (OWT) Teaching Aid Guide as Appendix A. Previous editions of ABC3 included Canadian Rules and Regulations as Appendix A, however the challenges to maintain this material current and the advent of on-line sources for current information allowed imbedding the OWT Guide in the Student Manual. The OWT training material may also be downloaded from the Downloadable Material section of the ABC3 home page. Incorporating OWT training in your ABC3 class meets a high-demand by students and prepares the student for the continuum of OWT training, including the first level of BOC: Inland Navigator. When registering your class in HQ-800, and if you are including OWT in your class, be sure to check the “plus OWT” box after selecting either the 8-hour or 16 hour course. If you are presenting ABC3 classes in areas of Canadian borders/waters, you may want to consider presenting as a follow-up the USPS University Seminar Crossing Borders. (17 Jan 16)

  • 2015 America’ Boating Course 3rd Edition System Approved. 2015 America’s Boating Course System materials are available from the USPS Catalog and are to be used when presenting ABC3. If you have unused 2012/2013 ABC3 Student Manuals remaining in stock, please use them with the 2015 presentations as they are compatible, then transition to using only 2015 materials when the old manuals are gone. When using the older manuals, there will be some irregularities if students follow along with the 2015 PowerPoint presentation. However, the material is in the older manual. Use of the 2015 PowerPoint with state approved/specific material in Section 8, and the 2015 final examinations is required. (12 Jan 16)

  • Navigation Training Charts. As we shift navigation training to less costly electronic navigation, we lose the convenience of opening charts from CD/DVDs associated with past courses and seminars. USPS is implementing training based on free, downloadable materials from NOAA and OpenCPN software. The NOAA chart 1210TR remains downloadable from the NOAA Historical site, and the BOWDITCH BAY chart continues imbedded in the ABC3 Student Manual series. In the interests of enhancing the USPS continuum of navigational training and providing easy access to the two training charts, they are now available for downloading from the Downloadable Materials section. Both charts remain available from the USPS Materials Catalog. (08 Jan 16)

  • Cold Water Survival Tips. Cold water survival tips are available on the Useful Web Sites page. There is a pamphlet from the American Canoe Association and a page from the February/March 2015 issue of the BoatU.S. magazine. (05 Feb 15)

  • USPS Float Plan. The USPS Float Plan (94KB, PDF) that's also available in the Materials Catalog (under Public Boating Courses, Miscellaneous) is available for download and distribution at ABC3 and other USPS courses. The Float Plan is also available on the EdDept Forms web page. (02 Feb 15)

  • New HQ-800 Help Documents. Helpful tips for using the HQ-800 system are in this HQ-800 Quick Guide (142KB PDF or 400KB DOCX). A “BY THE CLICKS” document to REGISTER classes, ENROLL students in the classes, and REPORT completion of the classes is also available (83KB PDF, 119KB DOCX). (14 Sep 14)

  • BPECom Assistance Form. If you need assistance from BPECom regarding HQ-800, the ABC3 CD or DVD, or anything else, please use this form to request assistance. Filling in as many sections as possible will help to minimize the number of times we need to contact you while providing the fastest response for you. (28 Feb 13)

  • Update to HQ-800 Tutorial Presentation. An update to the PowerPoint presentations has been done to make it easier for our members to use the tutorial files. See the Downloadable Materials section for the new zipped PowerPoint files. (20 Aug 12)

  • ABC3 On-The-Water Guide Now Available. The ABC3 On-The-Water Teaching Aid Guide is now available for downloading and use. The Guide takes the classroom knowledge to actual on-water experience, covering the material in the ABC3 2012 reprinting, 8 and 12 hour course versions. Concomitant to building confidence in new boaters, these skills will establish a foundation for on-the-water training in advanced courses and seminars, and foster interest in the BOC program. (15 May 12)

  • The USPS Public Boating Course

    America’s Boating Course, 3rd Edition (ABC3): USPS' ABC3 is the sole basic public safety boating course supported by USPS and approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). It has been approved by most states, and is offered in two parts. Part 1 is the 8-hour (Chapters 1-4) format and Part 2 includes Chapter 5 plus appendices. Part 1 coupled with Part 2, Chapter 5 comprises the 12-hour course. Chapters 1-4 focus on Federal laws and state licensing requirements, and Chapter 5 introduces the student to the use of charts and piloting. The classroom version of ABC3 is presented by USPS Certified Instructors only. The ABC3 student manual is "Copyright 2008 United States Power Squadrons Reprint 2012" to distinguish it from prior editions.

    Student and Instructor materials to support the ABC3 course (Student Manual, Instructor Manual, Instructor CD with PowerPoint files, bonus CD and DVDs for the student, assessments, answer sheets, diplomas) continue to be obtained from the On-Line Materials Catalog & Shopping Cart on the USPS Education Department Home Page.

    Assessment Examinations: Testing and verification are used to assess student comprehension. This includes classroom interaction, completion of the four end-of-chapter reviews, and a 50-question final multiple choice examination at class end. Education on state boating laws is specific to the state’s laws and assessed typically by a 10-question multiple choice test in addition to the 50-question NASBLA approved exam. Students who complete the Chapter 1 through 5 “12-hour” program receive the endorsement “Includes Introduction to Coastal and Inland Navigation Endorsement” (programmed in the HQ-800 12-hour class diploma printing event) on their Certificate of Completion. Minimum passing score for all ABC3 related exams is 80%. All multiple choice examinations are closed book, proctored by USPS members as arranged by the Exam Administrator, and scored by designated personnel other than the instructors. Two ABC3 final examinations are provided. Those not passing the initial assessment may, after additional study, retake the second exam. State-specific test questions are provided by the respective states and may be downloaded from the EdDept Home Page under the “State Boating Info” pull down tab. Additional evaluation direction may be included with the questions. The state specific examinations are in a protected directory to which DEOs have access.

    Successful completion of the NASBLA approved 2012 final examination leads to issuance of an ABC3 Certificate of Completion and accompanying wallet card.

    Course Completions: There is one report, submitted electronically, that records completion of each public boating class (and seminar). The report is made through either the HQ-800 System or the Boating Course Assistant version 7 (BCA 7) software. Both programs are easily accessed from the USPS Education Department web site. While each is unique with various additional aids to administration, they integrate the necessary information from the Student Registration form (ED46) and Course Answer sheet (ED-26) into a data record which is uploaded to USPS Headquarters. Both allow for pre-registration by students, a feature that aids compilation of data for reporting purposes. These programs include printing student information on the Certificate of Completion.

    Boating Class Summary (ED-27): This report provides the student statistics from course completion reports and is sent electronically to the respective district and squadron educational departments, and state boating law administrators. ED-27 reports are produced by the HQ-800 System from squadron information submitted to HQ from either of the two software programs. (13 Apr 12)
  • ABC 3rd Edition Posters

    Two sizes of posters are available at no charge to advertise your ABC 3rd Edition courses. They come in 8.5" x 11" and 11" x 14" sizes. Order them using the Free Brochures Order Form. (24 Feb 09)

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  • ABC3 2015 Printing Updated Errata. This updated errata sheet (154KB, PDF) dated 21 April 2017 for the 2015 printing of ABC3 applies to both the Student and Instructor Manuals. The updated Section 9 PPT file is available here (6898KB, PPT) and the updated Section 2 Slide 33 is available here (465KB, PPTX). (26 Apr 17)

  • Managing ABC Internet Students, Squadron and District Guide. An updated ABC3 guide (322KB, PDF) for use with the 2015 printing of America’s Boating Course 3rd Edition by squadrons and districts to manage ABC3 Internet students is available for downloading. (09 Jan 17)

  • HQ-800 User Self-Help / Education

    Each district and squadron change-of-watch brings new leadership into our Education Department. Registering and reporting course and seminar completions is a vital element of our educational system, accomplished through either of two software programs, and the subject of much correspondence with members. Several entries on this site in recent years have provided guidance for the new leaders and sometimes the seasoned educators, on use of one program, HQ-800 software. We are starting off with distilled information with focus on individual self-teaching and group learning presentations. The significant element to these initiatives is that a fictitious squadron (NoneSuch # 5999) has been created to allow learners to enter data as though it was real for purposes of training. The self-teaching and group learning components are as follows:

    1. Exploring HQ-800 Tutorial Presentation (9143KB, PPT) (Updated Dec 2016)

    The first two documents, based on fictitious squadron NoneSuch #5999, are PDF files that allow members who are unfamiliar with HQ-800 software to try out the procedures to register a course or seminar in the program, administer student registration, enter student information for uploading to the National data base and note the “proof of receipt” in an ED-27 report, all without actually entering false data on the National data base. These two aids are excellent learning tools for new DEOs and SEOs.

    The third item is a comprehensive tutorial on HQ-800 in PowerPoint format that was presented at the Pittsburgh Governing Board meeting in August 2016 and updated in Dec 2016. Questions or comments should be directed to the Basic Public Education Committee. (Updated 28 Dec 16)

  • Navigation Training Charts. The NOAA chart 1210TR (74157KB, ZIP) and the BOWDITCH BAY chart (2712KB, PDF) are available for downloading. Both charts remain available from the USPS Materials Catalog. (08 Jan 16)

  • America's Boating Course, 3rd Edition, Companion "Courseware" Disk v3.2 Users Guide. The latest version (v1.6) of the Users Guide (3795KB, PDF) is now available for download. This guide provides detailed instructions for installing and running the Courseware disk. (03 Oct 14)

  • ABC3 Errata. Reviewing the printings, we found things to fix which will be included in the next printing. In the interim, the fixes which are largely applicable to all 4 printings (2008 and reprinted in 2010, 2012 and 2013) are included in the downloadable 2013 ABC3 2008-2013 Student Manual Errata (51KB, PDF). The information in the Errata is of use to all instructors teaching ABC3 and may be distributed to students. (16 Jul 13)

  • Correction to Appendix A in ABC3 Student Manual 2012 Reprinting. Appendix A in the ABC3 Student Manual provides discussion on Canadian Rules and Regulations. Topic A-1 on page 219 discusses ENTERING CANADA. The discussion incorrectly states non-stop transits by U.S. vessels through Canadian waters need not contact Canadian officials. This change (58KB, PDF) to ABC3 Appendix A removes that discussion and inserts the requirement to report to Canadian officials when crossing the International border for any reason. (02 Jul 12)

  • ABC3 On-The-Water Teaching Aid Guide is available for download here (46KB, PDF). (15 May 12)

  • Chapter 5 Exam and Answers. A downloadable version of the Chapter 5 exam questions and answers is available on this protected web page. (22 Nov 11)

  • Coastal Explorer DVDRose Point Navigation Systems Coastal Explorer Reference Manual. An electronic copy (1248KB, PDF) of the Coast Explorer Reference Manual is available for download. (24 Jul 10)

  • America's Boating Course—3rd Edition (ABC3) Chapter Review PowerPoint Files. As part of the ABC3 reprint for 2010, several review questions were reworded and one question was moved from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2. The revised answer sheet is available below (next topic), and the PowerPoint review slides, version 1.1, are available for download here. The PowerPoint files completely replace the previously issued files version 1.0. (22 Mar 10)

    These files are for use by USPS members only, and you may be asked to provide your USPS certificate number and your PIN when accessing these files. Please note that with the protected files, the system will try to rename any file you save to your local computer.  When the window opens for the download, please rename the file you're saving to something meaningful for you.  Be sure to include the correct file name extension (e.g., .ppt for a PowerPoint file).

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This page last updated Saturday, January 11, 2020 21:48