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Elective Courses


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.

Tuition:  Members: $120.00  Non-members: $180.00

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.

Tuition:  Members : $75.00  Non-members: $112.50

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. 

Tuition: Members: $90.00  Non-members: $135.00


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:

  • with basic sailboat designs and nomenclature

  • rigging

  • safety

  • sail processes

  • the physical aspects of sailing forces and techniques

  • sail applications

  • marlinespike

  • helmsmanship

  • 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.


Tuition:  Members: $100.00  Non-members: $150.00 


Marine Electronics

Marine Electronics consists of three standalone courses:  Marine Electrical, Marine Communications, and Electronic Navigation. 

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 multimeter,

  • how to solder and crimp electrical wiring circuits,

  • and how to read electrical wiring diagrams.

This course is taught in nine two-hour sessions.

Marine Electrical Systems Tuition: Members: $120.00  Non-members: $180.00

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.

Marine Communications Tuition:  Members: $120.00  Non-members: $180.00

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.

Electronic Navigation Tuition: Members – $100.00  Non-members - $140.00

Instructor Development

This 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.

Tuition: Free to Members

Cruising and Cruise Planning
Engine Maintenance
Marine Electronics
Instructor Development
Marine Electrical Systems
Marine Communications
Electronic Navigaion

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