SEAMANSHIP GRADE: S
Building on the basics taught in the USPS ABC Boating courses, Seamanship is the recommended first course for new members, both power boaters 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
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, dead reckoning, and hands-on
plotting and labeling charts .
is worn when the wearer has passed both Seamanship and Piloting.
ADVANCED PILOTING GRADE: AP
Advanced Piloting 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 positions using bearings and angles, simple use of the mariner's sextant, and electronic navigating - radar, loran, GPS, etc.
JUNIOR NAVIGATION GRADE: JN
Junior Navigation is the first of a two-part program of study in offshore navigation - includes basic concepts of celestial navigation, use of the sextant to take sights of the sun, moon, planets and stars, techniques of accurate time determination, Nautical Almanac, reduction of sights, plotting sheets, and passage planning .
NAVIGATION GRADE: N
Navigation further develops the student's understanding of celestial theory. Introduces additional sight reduction techniques and develops greater skill in sight taking, positioning and the orderly methods of carrying on the day's work of a navigator at sea. Also, study of offshore navigation using minimal data and/or equipment, as might be encountered when on a disabled vessel or lifeboat .
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.
This course covers the 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 help the student become more self-reliant afloat, trouble diagnosis and temporary remedies are emphasized along with safety measures. The course is intended to make you a more intelligent and more resourceful boat engine operator.
The development of practical skills and methods in preparing for both classroom and meeting presentations are the objectives of the unique course. The course includes practice assignments in preparation and delivery of presentations in the classroom, including the use of visual and other aids. All types of aids that can enhance a presentation are studied and the student is afforded the opportunity to become familiar with their best use.
Essential knowledge about your boat's electrical and electronic systems is studied in this course. Proper wiring, grounding, electrolysis control, and batteries and their maintenance are included. Depth finders, marine radio telephones, radar, loran, GPS, and advanced systems for electronic navigation are also studied. Information is provided on FCC requirements for station licensing and operator permits for radio telephone.
This course module, Basic Sail, provides a through 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.
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.
Awareness of weather phenomena, how to read the weather map and the sky, and understand and anticipate weather developments for more pleasurable boating are the objectives of this course. Subjects studied include: characteristics and structure of the atmosphere, what weather is and its basic causes, normal development and movement of weather over the earth, and the factors considered in weather forecasting. Observations that the skipper can make afloat include both instrumental and visual: cloud sequences and the weather they predict; air masses, fronts, storms, and fog; and the use of radio and television weather broadcasts. Throughout the course the student is encouraged to make observations and predications in order to gain experience in applying the principles taught and develop greater insight into weather phenomena.
Anyone completing a grade level of at least Advanced Piloting (AP) and three Elective Courses receives the Educational Proficiency Award. Shown below is an AP insignia with the Educational Proficiency bar below it.
Members completing all navigational courses, which results in a grade of Navigator (N), and all Elective Courses receives the Educational Achievement Award. This is the highest educational recognition awarded by USPS. Holders of this honor can be recognized in print by the SN following their name. Shown below is the Educational Achievement Award insignia.
USPS also gives recognition for significant volunteer service to the organization. Service recognition insignia are described and shown below. These insignia are only displayed on a member's uniform.
For each year a member contributes significant service toward USPS goals, the member receive recognition known as a Merit Mark. Shown below is the insignia for 7 years of recognized service (seven Merit Marks).
When a member has received 5 Merit Marks he or she become known as a Senior Member and are allowed to display the following mark below their insignia of grade.
As an example, shown below is the insignia of someone achieving the grade of JN who is also a Senior Member.
If a member earns 25 Merit Marks, he or she is recognized as a Life Member. A Life Member is allowed to display a mark similar to the Senior Member's mark except that the "V" is surrounded by a gold laurel wreath.
Now it's up to you. Are your ready to expand your boating knowledge and skills?