The America's Boating Club Advanced Grade Courses are intended to provide a progressive education in boating skills.  Although these courses are open to the public, they are intended to allow a USPS member to progress through a series of intense boating skills classes that each build on the prior course material.  Except for the Boat Handling course, each course requires a student to have successfully completed the prior course before enrolling.

The courses are generally held once a week over a six to ten week period with the student expected to complete homework assignments between classes.  Most classes are two to three hours in length.

Although on-the-water experience is not required for completing these courses, many local America's Boating Club units provide such an experience as a supplement to their advanced grade courses.  Depending on the course, a written examination or completion of practical skill evaluations are required for award of an advanced grade.
Educational Achievement is awarded to anyone completing all Advanced Grade Courses, which results in a grade of Navigator (N), and all Elective Courses. This is the highest educational recognition award given by USPS. A person with this award is known as a Senior Navigator, and uses the printed grade designation of SN  Only very few members have such a high rank.
A short description of each course is provided below.  For more comprehensive information about the courses, go to the USPS Education website.  To access the specific page for each course click on the insigia for that course.
We are proud to recognize five members, past and present who have achieved this grade:

P/C Elwyn Case, SN
P/C Andrew J. Cook, SN
P/C Thomas J. Crawford, SN
P/D/C Melvin L. Roberts, SN
P/C Eugene L. Stutz, SN
Boat Handling (formerly Seamanship) (S)
Building on the basics taught in the public boating course, Boat Handling is the recommended first course for new members, both power boaters and sailors.  Students learn practical marlinespike, navigation rules, responsibilities of the skipper, operating a boat under normal and abnormal conditions, what to do in various emergencies and weather conditions, and common courtesy on the water.  This course provides a needed introduction to the USPS Educational Program and a strong foundation for members going on to other Advanced Grade courses and/or Cruise Planning or Sail.  Upon completing the six sessions of the course and passing the exam a member is designated a Seaman and entitled to wear the insignia above.
Piloting is the first of the navigational classes focusing on techniques for piloting a boat in coastal and inland conditions.  The course emphasizes planning and checking along with the use of GPS for determining position, and introduces digital charting along with traditional charting, compass and dead reckoning skills. Plotting, labeling, use of the compass, aids to navigation and a host of related topics are included in this all-new approach to coastal and inland piloting. The insignia is shown on the right.

Note: the insignia for completing both Seamanship and Piloting is two bars, as shown above. The awardee is called a Pilot as well.
Advanced Piloting continues to build on the base developed in Piloting, and includes practical use of additional electronic navigation systems and other advanced techniques for finding position. Among topics covered are: finding position using bearings and angles, collision avoidance using GPS and RADAR, what to do when the electronics fail, tides, currents and wind and their effect on piloting, and electronic navigation with GPS, chart plotters, RADAR, autopilots, etc. Application of course lectures takes place through practical in-class and at-home exercises. The insignia is shown above.
Junior Navigation is the first of a two-part program of study in offshore (open coast) navigation.  It is designed as a practical, how-to course, leaving the theoretical and more advanced techniques for the subsequent Navigation Course. Subject matter includes: basic concepts of celestial navigation; how to use the mariner’s sextant to take sights of the sun, moon, planets and stars; the importance and techniques of accurate time determination; use of the Nautical Almanac; how to reduce sights to establish lines of position (LOPs); and the use of special charts, plotting sheets and other navigational data for offshore positioning and passage planning. The insignia is shown above.
This is the second part of the study of offshore navigation. It further develops the student’s understanding of celestial theory.  The student is introduced to additional sight reduction techniques and develops greater skill and precision in sight taking, positioning and the orderly methods of carrying on the day’s work of a navigator at sea. Of particular interest and importance is the study of offshore navigation using minimal data and/or equipment, such as when on a disabled vessel or lifeboat. The insignia is shown on the right above.
Because of the importance that USPS places on boating education a recognition system has been implemented for graduates of the advanced grade courses.  Each grade has an associated insignia and the member is recognized by including the abbreviation of the grade behind his or her name.  In addition to the recognition for the level of advanced education the member has achieved there are two additional recognitions.
Educational Proficiency is awarded to anyone achieved a grade level of at least Advanced Piloting (AP) and completed at least three Elective Courses. Shown is an AP insignia with the Educational Proficiency bar below it.  The bar is also added to the JN and N insignia to denote Educational Proficiency.
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