A College Of Boating Education
Think of the USPS Advanced Grades program as a college of boating education. The more you study, the more you want to know. Though it takes a few years to complete the entire curriculum, you will then be ready to plan and complete a transoceanic voyage.
Seamanship builds on the material introduced in America’s Boating Course, providing a fuller understanding of boating knowledge and techniques. Students learn 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. Find more detail here.
Piloting 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; plotting and labeling charts; and dead reckoning. Learn more here.
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. Learn more here.
Junior Navigation is the first of a two-part program of study in offshore (open ocean) 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 start: the importance and techniques of accurate time determinations, use of the Nautical Almanac; how to reduce sights to establish line of position: and the use of special charts, plotting sheets and other navigational data for offshore positioning and passage planning. Find out more here.
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 sign 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. 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. Learn more here.
This course goes heavily into electronic aids, particularly Global Positioning Systems (GPS), covering such topics as establishing waypoints, running planned courses, charting software, tablet and smartphone apps for use at the helm and an overview of the Automatic Identification System (AIS). The course makes use of hands-on PC exercises that simulate GPS functions. Learn more here.