Home Up News Boating Course Calendar Civic Service Cruising Member Info The Bridge Related Links USPS

Advanced Grades

Elective Courses

Supplemental Courses

Click the calendar link for the course schedule for members.


Seamanship (S)

This introductory course gives basic information on all aspects of boating. Primarily for the beginner, but a useful refresher for the more experienced boater, the course starts with a good look at boats, covering types, materials used, propulsion and characteristics - both motor and sail. The student is then progressively led through exploration of usage of the boat. Trailering, safety, handling under good and bad conditions, effects of weather, the requirements directed by common sense and government regulations, basic navigational rules, using waterway aids to navigation, fire prevention and control, medical emergencies, nautical customs and common sense courtesy on the water are all covered in this course.

Prerequisite: None

Piloting (P)

This course explores in greater depth some of the subjects covered in the Seamanship Course and gives practical instruction in position determination based on plotting courses and dead reckoning. The course gives detailed information on Government regulations for equipment required on the boat and the way the boat is handled while afloat. Radio telephones and their use, charts available and what they show, aids to navigation on the water and on land, compass installation, adjustment and use, and many more important subjects are covered in depth. The examination includes chart work.

Prerequisite: Seamanship

Advanced Piloting (AP)

Covers all basic concepts and techniques needed for safe navigation in coastal waters and on major lakes and rivers. Expansion of basic piloting and charting skills; development and proper use of deviation tables; emphasis on interpretation and plotting of relative and compass bearings; use of danger bearings and danger angles; prediction of tides and tidal currents; prediction and analysis of current effects on course and speed over the ground; fundamentals of electronic navigation systems; introduction to sextant use in positioning; construction and use of small area plotting sheets.

Prerequisites: Seamanship and Piloting

Junior Navigation (JN)

JN presents a working knowledge of the principles of celestial navigation. In the courses listed above a boat's position was determined by charted land and sea marks such as lighthouses, spires, towers and buoys. In the absence of such aids the methods of finding Latitude and Longitude are those employed in the study of Junior Navigation. The concept of the celestial sphere is explained along with the identification of the celestial bodies and their relative positions, practical use of the sextant, the Nautical Almanac, time, plotting sheets, charts and the Sailings. These topics are studied in a methodical sequence that enable the navigator to plat his position at sea.

Prerequisites: Seamanship, Piloting and Advanced Piloting

Navigation (N)

Development of additional techniques in celestial navigation, greater skill and higher precision in taking sights and finding positions, including fundamental principles and practical work, systems of coordinates, instruments, extensive work with chronometer and sextant, computations, and the development of orderly methods for carrying on the day's work of the navigator at sea. The final examination includes an imaginary voyage for which the student is to work out the steps in the navigator's work.

Prerequisites: Seamanship, Piloting, Advanced Piloting and Junior Navigation

Elective Courses

Cruise Planning (CP)

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 to cross the oceans, very valuable information has been provided by those who have been there. This course includes the following topics: Planning the Voyage, Financing the Voyage, The Boat and How It Is Equipped, 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 (EM)

General construction, operating principles, maintenance and repair of marine gasoline and diesel engines, cooling, electrical, fuel and lubricating systems and associated propulsion components - clutches, shafting and propellers. Since one of the major objectives of the course is to make the students more self-reliant afloat, trouble-diagnosis and temporary remedies are given considerable emphasis. Safety measures are stressed. The course is not intended to produce trained mechanics but rather more intelligent and more resourceful boat engine operators.

Instructor Qualification (IQ)

Now with the Course titled "Speaking and Teaching - Effective Communications for the Speaker and Teacher," this Course offers practical skills in preparing for teaching and preparing for meetings, and for doing the teaching and conducting meetings. The Course includes practice assignments in presentations after preparing the outline for such presentations, including the use of visual and other aids. All types of aids are studied and the student is afforded the opportunity to become familiar with their best use. Attendance at the majority of class sessions is mandatory before taking the examination.

Marine Electronics (ME)

Essential knowledge about your boat's electrical and electronic systems. Proper wiring, grounding, electrolysis control, and batteries and their maintenance is included. Depth finders, marine radio telephones, radar, Loran, Omega and advanced systems for electronic navigation are covered. Information is given on FCC requirements for station licensing and operator permits for radio telephones.

Sail (SA)

Terminology of sailing; types of hulls, rigs and sail-plans; running and standing rigging and adjustment gear for same; hull and water forces caused by wind and waves; forces versus balance; techniques of sailing; points of sail; sail handling; sailing under wind conditions varying from light air to storm survival; tuning the sailboat; sailboat instrumentation; boat operation; sailboat marlinespike techniques and emergency techniques unique to sailboats.

Weather (W)

Awareness of weather phenomena, how to read the weather map and the sky, understand and anticipate weather developments. Characteristics and structure of the atmosphere, what weather is and its basic causes, normal development and movement of weather over the world, factors that enter into weather forecasting. instrumental and visual observations which the skipper can make afloat. Cloud sequences and the weather they predict. Air masses, fronts, storms and fog. Use of source of weather information including radio and television weather broadcasts. Throughout the course the student is encouraged to make observations and predictions in order to gain experience in applying the principles taught and develop greater insight into weather phenomena. 


Compass Adjusting

This program describes "virtually every method known to man" that the skipper of a wood, plastic or aluminum hull can use to adjust the compass, ensuring that the vessel's precise heading may be determined easily - fair weather or foul. Starting with a general overview, the program goes on to cover use of the pelorus, manipulation of the corrector magnets, installation and alignment of the compass, and a light touch on the fundamentals.

Described in the text are the methods to determine magnetic headings by bearings on the sun, ranges, reciprocal bearings, bearings on distant objects, and the Darrach or "sun compass" method as well as appraisals of when to use each.

Introduction to Astronomy

This pleasant, non-technical introduction is intended to help the novice begin to enjoy the wonders of the night sky. No prior familiarity with astronomy is required to follow this easy to read guide to the stars, planets and major constellations. The material covers the northern hemisphere, and all of the objects described can easily be seen without instruments.

The emphasis is to locate and identify prominent patterns and the principal objects they contain, particularly those of interest to navigators. This is done in easy steps and is organized by seasons of the year. There are notes on observational techniques, some history, and biblical references.

The JN student will find this a convenient, but not necessarily complete star guide. Others will find it a handy reference when sitting in the yard one evening and wondering about the heavens.

10 sections, six with homework questions, plus appendixes, including a pronunciation guide and bibliography.

Skipper Saver

This program is a blend of two USPS objectives - EDUCATION and SAFETY. Its purpose is to help the student acquire basic boating ability without frills or superfluous information. The idea is to learn how to operate a boat safely in an emergency without the throes of panic.

It consists of three classroom lessons which cover: situations requiring immediate action, boat handling and use of the radiotelephone. A fourth session on the water in the family boat is a practical demonstration of the classroom work. For continued reference are 13 appendixes providing a handbook covering what to do in situations requiring first aid, special needs of guests, useful knots, radiotelephone procedures and boat handling. A Skipper Saver Patch and Certificate are available for presentation to those who successfully complete the program.

Under USPS sponsorship, this program is available to yacht clubs or other private organizations with an interest in safe boating.

Introduction to Sailing

This program covers the basics of small sailboat handling. Included are: nomenclature, sail handling, the tiller, points of sailing, relationships between the wind and the moving boat, action of the keel or centerboard and other points of interest to the novice sailor or someone who wants to know how a sailboat works.

Preparation for Coast Guard License

This is the only Supplemental Program that requires a formal classroom lecture format and the prerequisites of Seamanship, P, AP, EM, Weather and Sail (if applying for Auxiliary Sailing Vessel or Sailing Vessel in Ocean Service.)

The student will use USCG publications extensively for primary texts. Successful presentation of the program requires a knowledgeable teaching staff and motivated students. The student will be prepared to pass one or more of the CG license examinations up to and including 100-ton ocean going vessels - power or sail

The lessons guide the student through Rules of the Road, machinery, Seamanship, weather, piloting, coastal navigation, and fire and damage control. Includes review questions and a sample examination.

Predicted Log Contests

Predicted logging is an event in which skippers try to predict the time required to complete several legs of a given course - and then are required to run the course as a check. Easily said, it is not nearly so easily done and much knowledge and planning are required.

The material is divided into two parts. The first, for which Piloting is considered a prerequisite, is an introduction including history, rules and management of a PLC and preparations necessary to engage in a PLC. Part two, for which AP and Weather are considered prerequisites, includes an extensive technical review as well as variations to the basic PLC.

Illustrations include sample forms for "regular" contests as well as recommendations for the variations. A detailed worksheet will help the student organize the work necessary prior to a contest.

Boat Insurance

Too often taken for granted, proper insurance coverage could well be the difference between an inconvenience and a financial disaster! This program explains and simplifies the elements of typical yacht policies so that the boater has a good grasp on the basics of marine insurance.

The text discusses general policy provisions concerning the hull, machinery and equipment, medical payments, liability exposure, land transportation risks, substandard risks and surveying. A glossary of insurance terms and a sample policy and survey are included. A review examination is provided with questions that not only test your knowledge but are instructive as well.


The study of oceanography is so vast and technical that it is a pleasure to have this well-worded, non-technical introduction to the many facets of such a fascinating science. The program covers marine geography, including earth crusts, tectonic plates, fractures and movement, ocean chemistry, effects of weather and the aspects of ocean movement, including tides, currents and waves.

Readers without scientific backgrounds will enjoy the program as well as be stimulated to look further at this basic earth science.

Hand Tools

Ever wish you could come up with something a bit more original than "thingamabob" when discussing the great variety of tools for measuring, hitting, splitting, turning, cutting, removing, gripping, fastening, etc.?

This is the program with the answers. Along with descriptions of use are well over a hundred illustrations of tools for the above purposes as well as many others. Included is information on: adhesives, abrasives, torches, soldering and a section on the safe operation of power tools. The material in this SP is for anyone who ever needs hand tools - not just the boat builder or owner. It will help you do things safely, correctly and efficiently. 7 sections, 10 appendixes, including conversion tables, equivalents and size specifications for the most commonly used fasteners.

Elements of Boat Design and Construction

This text describes the interacting forces affecting hull stability and how this, in turn, affects safety and comforts on the water. It deals with underwater hull shape as designed for different purposes and gives the reader examples of how the marine architect deals with the sometimes contrary considerations of overall design. The reader will begin to learn why designs are done the way they are and will understand the basic terms used. A section on power and propulsion will help clarify this much misunderstood, but vital, aspect of design. Rudders, steering gear and construction details and materials are covered as well. Useful ratios are defined and illustrated with line drawings. For the serious boater, it is fascinating reading. For the amateur boat builder, it is a must.

Principles of Water Skiing Safety

Many water skiing accidents occur because people are not aware of the variety of hazards involved or are not mindful of them. There are correct, tested procedures that minimize the risks in this popular activity. This program describes them and lists the responsibilities of the people making up a safe water skiing team. There is information on types of boats, suggestions on rigging the towing equipment, and descriptions of the many types of skis in use. Included are discussions of racing, slalom, barefoot skiing, jumping, and ways to pick oneself up and start all over again. By following the basic safety recommendations included, the student will be contributing to the enjoyment of this sport for all involved.

Updated 03 March 2021
Copyright © 2000-2021 Lake Murray Power Squadron, America's Boating Club℠ of Lake Murray
America's Boating Club® is a trademark of the United States Power Squadrons®
Privacy Statement | Trademarks | Disclaimer Statement
 Send mail to
webmaster@lmpsonline.org with questions or comments about this website.