Advanced Grade Courses
Building on the basics taught in the public boating course, Seamanship is the recommended first course for new members, both power boaters and sailors. 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. This course provides a needed introduction to the USPS Educational Program and a strong foundation for members going on to other Advanced Grades courses and/or Cruise Planning or Sail.
Piloting is the first of the navigational classes focusing on techniques for piloting a boat in coastal and inland conditions. The course emphasizes planning and checking along with the use of GPS for determining position, and introduces digital charting along with traditional charting, compass and dead reckoning skills. Plotting, labeling, use of the compass, aids to navigation and a host of related topics are included in this all-new approach to coastal and inland piloting.
Note: the insignia for completing both Seamanship and Piloting is two bars, as shown. The awardee is called a Pilot as well. The insignia is shown on the right.
Advanced Piloting is the final part of the inland and coastal navigation series. This material continues to build on the base developed in Piloting, and includes practical use of additional electronic navigation systems and other advanced techniques for finding position. Among topics covered are: finding position using bearings and angles, collision avoidance using GPS and RADAR, what to do when the electronics fail, tides, currents and wind and their effect on piloting, and electronic navigation with GPS, chart plotters, RADAR, autopilots, etc. Application of course lectures takes place through practical in-class and at-home exercises.
Junior Navigation 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 subsequent 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.
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. 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.
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