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Advanced Courses are designed to be taken in sequence as each builds on the skill and knowledge taught in the previous course. Five Advanced Grade courses are offered by USPS.


Covers basic deck seamanship, marlinspike (knots and ropes), anchoring and rafting, basic boat care and maintenance, and nautical and USPS customs and etiquette.    Read More>

Is the first and most basic navigation course, covering chart reading, course plotting, and basic coastal or inland navigation, including basic GPS usage. This course goes into more detail than the charting information covered in the public courses.    Read More>

Advanced Piloting

Covers more advanced coastal navigation techniques, navigation in tides and currents, and more advanced GPS and Radar usage.    Read More>

Junior Navigation
Teaches the basics of offshore navigation, including basic celestial navigation using the sun and offshore course planning.    Read More>

Is the most advanced navigation course taught by USPS, covering more advanced celestial navigation techniques, emergency navigation, and additional sight reduction techniques.  Read More>

Advanced Piloting
Junior Navigation


Build boating confidence and competence for safe and fun on-the-water adventures.  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.

What's included?

  • For both sail and power boats, Seamanship covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • 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

  • And other interesting topics

This course is normally completed in 8 two-hour sessions: six sessions of study, one session of review and one session for the exam.


Learn the essentials of safe coastal and inland navigation using basic GPS in conjunction with charts and other marine data.  The Piloting course teaches you how to use the 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.

What's Included?


  • 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

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.

Advanced Piloting

Do you want to navigate unfamiliar waters in limited visibility or take an extended cruise with confidence?  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 Included?

  • 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.

Junior Navigation - Celestial Part 1

What happens when your GPS fails? Have fun and satisfy your curiosity about boating in the days before electronics in the Junior Navigation course.  Learn to use a marine sextant to take sights on celestial objects such as the sun.  Even if you are not traveling long distances off shore, remember that GPS is not infallible, nor always available.  Be confident when no aids to navigation or land objects are in sight.

In Junior Navigation, you will continue to use GPS as the primary position sensor as you learned in Piloting and Advanced Piloting, but with celestial navigation as your backup technique. Because terrestrial landmarks are no longer visible to the offshore navigator, you will 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 Included?


  • 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

This interesting and challenging course emphasizes the practical aspects of daytime celestial navigation. You will 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.

Navigation - Celestial Part 2

Learn navigation using all the celestial bodies! Use navigational software tools to plan and execute an offshore voyage. In the event of a loss of electronics on board, you’ll be glad you took this course and developed the necessary backup skills for an offshore voyage. Even if you have no plans to travel offshore, you will be able to impress your boating friends with your depth of celestial knowledge.

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 Included?


  • 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 (Visual Passage Planner 2) and execute a voyage (OpenCPN)


As with the Junior Navigation course, you will learn to prepare a sight folder that documents your positioning skills using sights taken on the moon, planets and stars. The course will take approximately 10 weeks and, you will have two additional weeks to complete an open book exam.

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