Eight Elective Courses are offered by USPS. They cover separate and independent topics and therefore may be taken in any order according to a person’s interests and time. Elective courses are scheduled when there is an interest and usually are scheduled during the evening or on Saturdays. All courses include an extensive student manual and often additional learning aids. For more information about elective courses click the image to the left.
Cruising and Cruise Planning
There is something very special about the thrill of cruising in new waters and the sense of accomplishment upon completing an extended cruise. To go beyond what most boaters do on a weekend overnight or even a week or so marina hopping requires boaters to leave their normal cruising areas and comfort zones. The Cruising and Cruise Planning course focuses on the planning and preparation necessary for safe enjoyable extended cruises on both inland and coastal waters.
The Cruising and Cruise Planning Course can be comfortably taught in eight two-hour sessions including time for review and the multiple choice closed book exam
The Engine Maintenance Course stresses the diagnosis of modern systems, while also teaching the basics of engine layout and operation. Gasoline inboards, outboards, and diesel engines are taught in a way that reinforces the common aspects of how engines work. It also covers basic mechanical systems such as drive systems (propellers), steering systems, and engine controls. This course consists of ten weekly two hour modules and a final exam.
Marine Electronics is a series of three elective courses designed to give members an comprehensive look at the skills and techniques needed to troubleshoot and maintain the complicated marine electronics found on most boats today. The courses include Marine Electrical Systems, Marine Communications and Electronic Navigation.
Marine Electrical Systems
The Marine Electrical Systems course is presented in seven chapters that start 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 ends with 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 can be used as a reference guide for anyone interested in properly maintaining their boat electrical system. The course consists of nine two-hour sessions.
Marine Communications Systems is an in-depth, nine chapter review of those systems available to the recreational boater, or to those with whom he/she shares the water. Radio history and spectrum definitions are presented along with definitions of radio circuits that the student should learn, to choose the best communications method for his/her situation. One chapter is devoted to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and another to FCC Rules and regulations to set the stage for instruction of radiotelephone operating procedures (both voice and digital messaging are covered). The remaining chapters cover High Seas radio (MF/HF and satellite communications) and other systems such as Family Radio Service transceivers. There is also a chapter on troubleshooting of radio installations. This course require seven two-hour sessions.
Electronic Navigation introduces GPS technology from the most basic receiver to chart plotter systems for navigation on board. The process of navigating by establishing waypoints and routes, and then running the planned courses, is demonstrated. Further, electronic charting software for the desktop computer is examined, with creation of waypoints and routes on the desktop and subsequent download to the onboard unit. Despite differences among the various manufacturers' offerings, a thorough discussion of the features being made available is included. The course consists of 15 sections that will normally be presented in eight two hour sessions. A closed book exam follows the course.
Sail 2009 is a completely new sail course created to serve the needs of the novice and experienced sailor, as well as the non-sailor, for basic skills and knowledge. The course starts with basic sailboat designs and nomenclature, rigging, safety, and sail processes and then tackles the physical aspects of sailing forces and techniques, sail applications, marlinespike, helmsmanship and 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. This new Sail course is a single volume developed in cooperation with the Canadian Sail & Power Squadron. Course completion is documented by a closed book exam graded by USPS Headquarters.
Unlike other USPS courses, the Instructor Development course is not designed to enhance boating skills. Rather, its emphasis is on 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 course is open to non-USPS members.
The safety and comfort of those who venture out-on-the water have always been weather dependent. In this course students will become keener observers of the weather, but weather observations only have meaning in the context of the basic principles of meteorology - the science of the atmosphere. 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. Wx2012 is a general weather course benefiting those sitting in their living rooms, as much as those standing behind the helm. 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
The Weather Course is designed to be conducted over ten two-hour sessions including time for review and the multiple choice closed book exam.
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Upcoming Elective Course
Course is currently scheduled for late spring.
For more information or to register for the course contact Squadron Educational Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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