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Course Catalogue

Current class schedule and registration are HERE.


Boating skills online courses offered through Americas Boating Channel.

For more than 100 years, we have provided boaters with unsurpassed education on the water, in the classroom, and, more recently, online. Our courses go beyond the basics and our instructors have a passion for boating as well as real world experiences.  

 Bellevue Sail and Power Squadron Class Catalog


These catalog descriptions are for information only.

To see currently scheduled classes and to register click on the link above.

America's Boating Course 3rd edition

This instructor led course satisfies the Washington State Boater Education Card Requirement while giving you the in-depth knowledge you need to get out on the water safely.

Topics covered include:

  • introduction to boating

  • boating law

  • boat safety equipment 

  • safe boating

  • navigation

  • boating hazards/problems

  • Trailering, Storing and Protecting Your Boat

  • Hunting and Fishing, Water-skiing and River Boating                

Many insurance companies offer discounts on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete America's Boating Course

​All Day Class


Seamanship provides a foundation of knowledge and skills in boat handling and maneuvering, boat operation, skipper's responsibilities, and boating techniques that will advance your boating enjoyment. For both sail and power boats. 

Topics covered include:

  • ​Types of boats and how they behave on the water

  • Anchoring in various conditions

  • Docking and line handling

  • Close quarter maneuvering

  • Rules of the road

  • Communication with other boats

  • How to respond to various emergencies

  • Marlinespike/basic knots

​This course is normally completed in 12 two-hour sessions: six sessions of study, one session of review and one session for the exam.

Marine Navigation (Piloting)

​The Piloting course teaches you how to use GPS along with traditional dead reckoning techniques for planning and laying out safe routes as well as ensuring that you are on-course while underway.

  • Charts and their interpretation

  • Landmarks and navigation aids (buoys, daymarks, lights, etc.)

  • Plotting courses and determining direction and distance

  • The mariner's compass and converting between True and Magnetic

  • Use of GPS - basic GPS displays and information they provide, setting up waypoints and routes, staying on a GPS course

  • Pre-planning courses and entering them into the GPS

  • Monitoring progress and determining position by both GPS and traditional techniques such as bearings and dead reckoning

  • The "Seaman's Eye" - simple skills for checking that one is on course

​Twelve classes of two hours each normally are scheduled for presentation of this course. In addition the students have seven days to complete an open book exam.

Advanced Piloting

Learn to use radar, chart plotters, AIS and other electronic tools to supplement basic GPS navigation.  Obtain a thorough understanding of piloting techniques in a variety of coastal tide, current and wind conditions.

What's covered:

  • Advanced positioning techniques, such as advancing a line of position to obtain a running fix

  • Use a variety of electronic tools:  radar, depth sounders, autopilots, chart plotters, laptop computer software, and more

  • Hazard avoidance techniques using electronics (e.g., avoidance waypoints or safety zones in GPS)

  • Collision avoidance using radar, GPS, and AIS

  • Working with tide and current data to determine clearances, depth of water and effects of current

  • Piloting in various wind and current conditions

  • The “Seaman’s Eye” – simple skills for checking that one is on course

​Ten classes of two hours each normally are scheduled for presentation of this course. In addition the students have seven days to complete an open book exam.

Offshore Navigation (Junior Navigation)

Learn to use a marine sextant and the sun as your reference point, derive a line of position, and develop a running fix. You will also learn to calculate your latitude from a noon sight on the sun.

What's covered:

  • Determining precise time

  • Using the Nautical Almanac

  • Taking sextant sights of the sun

  • Reducing sights to establish lines of position

  • Determining latitude from a noon sight

  • Using special charts and plotting sheets for offshore navigation

  • Setting offshore navigational routines for recreational craft

  • Also learn to prepare a sight folder that documents your positioning skills using sights taken on the sun.

​The course will take approximately 14 weeks to complete and you will have two additional weeks to complete an open book exam.

Celestial Navigation (Navigation)

The Navigation course will teach you how to use the moon, planets, and stars to determine your position at morning and evening twilight to supplement daytime sights on the sun, moon, and bright planets. You will also get access to and use navigational software tools that can be used to plan and execute any voyage.

​What's covered:

  • An overview of how the celestial bodies in the sky appear to us on earth

  • Finding local mean time of solar and lunar phenomena and converting these times to watch time

  • Reducing sights of the moon, stars, and planets by the Law of Cosines and Nautical Almanac Sight Reduction methods, along with sight data averaging

  • Achieving acceptable 2- and 3-body fixes, using both traditional and electronic tools

  • Determining your latitude from a sight on Polaris, the north star

  • Provisioning an emergency navigation kit and constructing emergency plotting sheets

  • Using navigational software to plan an offshore voyage and execute a voyage 

​The course will take approximately 10 weeks and, you will have two additional weeks to complete an open book exam.


In this course students will become keener observers of the weather. The course focuses on how weather systems form, behave, move, and interact with one another and reflects the availability of all sorts of weather reports and forecasts on the Internet.  Each student receives:

a Weather Manual - USPS Weather - an explanatory text with full color photographs and drawings covering weather in the United States and its coastal and inland waters;

a set of three Daily Weather Maps - learning aids with a compete explanation of map symbols designed to develop weather map reading and analysis skills; and

NOAA’s Sky Watcher Chart - a reference to assist in identifying cloud types – helpful indicators of approaching weather.  

The Weather Course is designed to be conducted over ten two-hour sessions including time for review and the multiple choice closed book exam, but each instructor will determine the pace of the course.

Cruising and Cruise Planning

Focuses is on the planning and preparation necessary for safe enjoyable extended cruises on both inland and coastal waters.

Designed for members who cruise on either a sail or powerboat. This course covers the following topics:

  • Cruise preparation and planning - General

  • Boat and Equipment

  • Anchors and Anchoring

  • Security

  • Chartering

  • Cruising Outside the United States

  • Crew and Provisioning

  • Voyage Management

  • Communications

  • Navigation

  • Weather

  • Emergencies

The Cruising and Cruise Planning Course is usually taught in eight two-hour sessions including time for review and the multiple choice closed book exam.


Engine Maintenance

Gasoline inboards, outboards, and diesel engines are taught in a way that reinforces the common aspects of how engines work. Modern engines offer high reliability and good performance through the use of computerized systems for fuel delivery and engine timing. Most of these systems are “black boxes” that can no longer be serviced by weekend mechanics with ordinary tools. The Engine Maintenance course covers those repairs that do-it-yourselfers can still perform, teaches how to diagnose problems that might be beyond your ability to fix, and how to share information with your mechanic so the right repairs get performed. The course also covers basic mechanical systems such as drive systems (propellers), steering systems, and engine controls. The last chapter discusses solutions, you might use, to problems that could occur while afloat and away from a repair facility. 


​This course was created to serve the needs of the novice and experienced sailor, as well as the non-sailor, for basic skills and knowledge.

The course covers:

  • ​basic sailboat designs and nomenclature

  • ​rigging

  • safety

  • sail processes

  • the physical aspects of sailing forces and techniques

  • sail applications

  • marlinespike

  • helmsman-ship

  • handling of more difficult sailing conditions

  • navigation rules

  • and an introduction to heavy weather sailing

Appendices provide an introduction to sailboat racing and sailing in Canadian waters.



Marine Electronics

Marine Electronics consists of three standalone courses: 

  1. Marine Electrical,

  2. Marine Communications,

  3. Electronic Navigation. 

1. Marine Electrical Systems

This course can be used as a reference guide for anyone interested in properly maintaining their boat electrical system. The course starts with an explanation of what electricity is, followed by discussions on:

boat electrical wiring,

DC and AC electrical systems,

galvanic and stray current corrosion,

lightning protection,

and the troubleshooting of boat electrical problems.

​The course includes detailed instructions on:

  • how to use a multi-meter,

  • how to solder and crimp electrical wiring circuits,

  • and how to read electrical wiring diagrams.

This course is taught in nine two-hour sessions.

2. Marine Communications

Marine Communications Systems is an in-depth, nine chapter review of the systems available to the recreational boater. Radio history and spectrum definitions are presented as well as definitions of radio circuits that students should learn in order to choose the best communications method for his/her situation. Also covered are the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and FCC Rules and regulations setting the stage for instruction of radiotelephone operating procedures (both voice and digital messaging are covered). The remainder of the course covers High Seas radio (MF/HF and satellite communications) and other systems such as Family Radio Service transceivers. Troubleshooting of radio installations is also covered.

This course is taught in seven two-hour sessions.

3. Electronic Navigation

Electronic Navigation covers all aspects of electronic navigation using GMDSS as the foundation for modern marine communications. GPS is taught as the primary method of position fixing. This is a systems course—not “how to” navigate—that focuses on the use of electronic devices to augment the practice of safe navigation on the water. Topics include GPS, the Automatic Identification System (AIS), RADAR, depth sounder and related instruments, electronic charting systems, and a working understanding of the electronic bus structures needed to tie these devices together.

Instructor Development

his course emphasizes enhancing presentation techniques and instructor skills. The course has been designed to demonstrate interactive teaching methods focused on adult learning. Students are required to prepare lesson plans and give three presentations to their peers utilizing a variety of teaching aids and presentation skills. The instructor may assign a topic for these presentations or you may use material and PowerPoint slides from existing USPS courses, and they may build on one another.


This seminar covers selection of anchor, rode and components; anchor selection for sea conditions and bottom characteristics; deployment and recovery of anchors. It also includes tables for sizing an anchor and components, and information for determining loads under various conditions. The kit includes the USPS Anchoring Quick Guide written by Bill Gladstone, and Student Notes with copies of the slides.

One two-hour session.​

AIS Electronics for Boaters

​Our newest seminar, can help you decide if AIS is right for you. Automatic Identification System electronics aren’t just for commercial vessels. Using AIS can help you navigate crowded waterways easily and safely.

With AIS marine electronics on board, you can identify potential dangers and quickly make decisions on the water. Many systems share your boat’s information with other boats so they can also make better, safer boating decisions.

In this course, you will learn what AIS does, how it works, whether you need an AIS system, how AIS is different from RADAR, how to use AIS to navigate more safely and what to consider when integrating AIS with your existing electronics.

One two-hour session.

Basic Coastal Navigation

Today, electronics have radically changed navigation, but understanding the basics helps you gain confidence in your equipment and your own skills. You will learn practical techniques to plan, navigate, and check your progress on the water. You will develop situational awareness skills using your eyes and navigation tools to quickly point to your position on a chart, and be able to use backup techniques when the electronics become suspect. This seminar will help captain and crew navigate safely and comfortably. The student kit contains The Weekend Navigator and the Maptech CD.

One two-hour session.

Boat Handling Under Power

This seminar shows boaters how to depart and dock under a variety of conditions as well as all about trimming the boat underway. The seminar comes with a waterproof USPS Captain’s Quick Guide and Student Notes. The instructor kit includes a PowerPoint CD with excellent slides and flash animations plus an instructor manual.

One two-hour session.

How To Use A Chart

The NOAA Chart No. 1 is the quintessential reference to chart details, but is difficult to understand. This seminar walks you through what you really need to know in an entertaining and interesting fashion, and provides you with a Maptech Waterproof flip-fold waterproof Chart Symbols and On-the-Water Guide to take along on the boat with you. In addition to showing you all about your chart, this seminar walks you through the essentials of laying out a safe course, steps to measure a course with the USPS plotter, and even a quick guide to the rules of the road.

One two-hour session.

Mariner’s Compass

This seminar explains how to select, install, calibrate and use your compass on board your boat. You will learn which features are most important and what will work best for you, how to deal with variation between true and magnetic north, and how to adjust your compass to remove most of the deviation caused by local magnetic influences. This is an essential seminar for all boaters.

One two-hour session.


Marine Radar

This seminar covers how radar functions, radar selection, operation of the radar under various conditions including setting of controls, display interpretation, basic navigation, and collision avoidance using radar. The kit includes The Radar Book written by Kevin Monahan ($25 retail) and Student Notes with copies of slides.

One two-hour session.


Mastering Rules Of The Road

This seminar provides an explanation with examples of the 38 Rules of the Road for both the U.S. Inland Rules and the International Rules (COLREGS). It simplifies the sometimes complex law relating to boat operation for the recreational boater. It is a starting point for study preparation for the USCG License examination. This seminar includes McGraw-Hill’s The One Minute Guide to the Nautical Rules of the Road by Charlie Wing, Student Notes, a seminar certificate, and an ED-46 seminar registration form.

One two-hour session.

​Marine Weather Forecasting

While not a course in weather, this seminar explains how just using your own senses can help you determine what conditions you will encounter where you are. By all means, a forecast is important. It will tell you what weather systems are headed your way, but they are challenged to tell exactly where and when conditions will change. Add your own observations and you have an extra edge. Add a couple of instruments and you can verify your observations. The seminar explains weather systems, how to understand clouds and their changes, using changing wind direction, temperature, and pressure to hone in on emerging weather fronts. The seminar includes the McGraw-Hill waterproof Captain's Quick Guides: On-Board Weather Forecasting to take aboard your boat.

One two-hour session.


Skipper Saver Seminar

The Skipper Saver course is a blend of two USPS objectives – SAFETY and EDUCATION. Its purpose is to help a First Mate acquire basic boat handling skills without frills or superfluous information. The idea is to learn how to make decisions, communicate a problem, and operate a boat safely in an emergency without the throes of panic.

This course consists of 5 classroom lessons.

We have a boat simulator for use in the class room to give you hands-on experience.

One two-hour session.


Tides and Currents

The United States has over 12,000 miles of coastline and some 72,000 miles of coastal waterways that are affected by tides and tidal currents. Even if you are an inland boater, you may travel to an area where knowing about tides and tidal currents is important. The seminar deals with how the sun and moon create tidal patterns, sources of information about tides and tidal currents, simple ways to predict height of tide and speed of current flow and how to use both print and electronic tide tables. Learn about tides and currents from experienced coastal boaters. Each student receives a full color Student Guide for the seminar.

One two-hour session.


Trailering Your Boat

Expand your boating to find better fishing, quieter beaches, or safer water skiing! Get in the know with how you tow! In this three-hour seminar, you’ll learn safe-towing tips for your boat, your crew, your trailer, and your tow-vehicle. Gain new skills and tips for safely towing and launching your trailerable boat in less than ideal situations. We’ll discuss it all: ramps, hitches, straps, signals, brakes, backing, ramp etiquette, and launch teamwork. You’ll get tips on protecting your gear before, during, and after transit, and learn the “one-block rule”. This seminar includes a copy of the superb 166-page, fully- illustrated paperback book, Complete Guide to Trailering Your Boat. In addition, you’ll get our unique tow and launch checklist! To help you understand the procedures and then apply them at the water’s edge, this seminar will have classroom-based training by experienced trailer boaters, plus actual on-ramp instruction! We will also show you how to operate and maintain your trailering equipment. Get ready for summer fun. Join us on Lake Union!

One two-hour session.


Using GPS

This seminar explains the principles of waypoint navigation and shows you how to relate the GPS to your charts. The seminar also shows you how to operate your GPS – what the buttons do, what the screens show, and how to access the functions you need. You’ll also get some tips for choosing a GPS if you don’t currently own one. The waterproof McGraw-Hill Captain’s Quick Guide Using GPS is included to take aboard to remind you of the steps, or to show another of your crew how to use your GPS.

One two-hour session.


Using VHF/DSC Marine Radio

VHF radio is the mainstay of coastal communication and essential for emergency communications. Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is rapidly becoming a reality as more Coast Guard Rescue 21 System operations go live. This seminar explains basic VHF operation. A CD is included with a DSC Simulator that allows you to practice on your computer at home. The handy waterproof McGraw-Hill Captains’ Quick Guide Using VHF is included with essential information that you should have aboard.

One two-hour session.


Crossing Borders

If you live in the border states, you can cross international borders and visit our neighbors to the north or south. But what do you need to know? This seminar explains the immigration and customs process and the programs that enable boaters to easily cross into Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas. Be prepared by having the correct documents; we can help you get there. Each student receives a full color Student Guide especially written for the seminar.

What's included?

  • Understand the immigration and customs process

  • Prepare and carry the correct documents for your crossing

  • Who are and how to contact the proper authorities

  • ​​​Timelines for the entry and departure process

  • ​​​What can't be carried across the borders

​​​One two-hour session.


​Crabbing in Puget Sound

​​Whether you are an experienced Crabber or just starting out, there are 4 things that you want to accomplish:

  • ​​Do it safely

  • ​​Reduce unneeded expenses 

  • ​Protect the future of the resource

  • Get your limit(s)!

In this session we will explore ways to do all 4 of these on a consistent basis. Topics include anchoring your trap to prevent it from going into deeper water, principles of bait, best time to crab, how to not get pinched, having fun with kids along, and more.

One two-hour session.


Shrimping in Puget Sound

Did you know that Puget Sound has some of the best shrimp in the world? How about the fact that there are 7 different species that can be caught by recreational fishing? In this session, we will focus on gear needed/recommended to catch shrimp. Main emphasis will be on spot shrimp, but not exclusively. Other topics include safety, bait, preventing lost gear, when is best time and why so that productive exceptions can be made, how to avoid fines, and more. Even experienced shrimpers will get more ideas, and novices will get more than enough info to get started.

One two-hour session.

Going Through the Locks

Ever shuddered in fear thinking about transiting the locks?  This educational discussion is just the thing for you.  We will discuss preparation to transit, what is required, lock signals, how to tie to the big, little, or other boats in the locks and finally when to untie and exit the locks.  The course materials are largely from the Army Corps of Engineers website but we will provide complete guidance on how to do it safely in either of the locks and how to keep the lockmasters from yelling at you.

​A must for new boaters wanting to go out into Puget Sound from the ship canal.

​One two-hour session.

Power Boat Docking, Handling, and Anchoring

​This seminar will teach boaters how to safely dock, depart the dock, anchor and pick up a mooring buoy.  The emphasis will be on the practical procedures and techniques and not only on the particular gear.  Extensive use will be made of simulations and hands on teaching aids. Materials will be suggested for purchase and there will be handouts that identify these.  This is a free seminar but attendance will be limited to seven students so registration is a must.

​One two-hour session.

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