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America's Boating Course

Since 1914 experienced boaters from local squadrons have presented introductory courses to more than 3 million people. Learning to boat well is important; the increased knowledge will enhance your safety on the water and your enjoyment of the sport.


Our classes qualify for the Washington Boater Education Card, sometimes referred to as a boating license, certificate or boaters permit. Insurance premium discounts are available from many insurers. The card may help you with boat rentals. The Washington requirement is being phased in depending on your age. It is now required for ages 12 to 59.

America's Boating Course Seattle
Advanced Boating Education Seattle Boating Club
Advanced Grade Courses

Building on the foundation of the introductory boat class, the usual approach is to take these three classes, in sequence, that cover the fundamentals of boat operation and navigation in our Northwest coastal waters:


BOAT HANDLING (Seamanship) covers basic deck seamanship, marlinspike (knots and ropes), anchoring and rafting, basic boat care and maintenance, and nautical and USPS customs and etiquette.


MARINE NAVIGATION (Piloting) 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.


ADVANCED MARINE NAVIGATION (Advanced Piloting) covers more advanced coastal navigation techniques, navigation in tides and currents, and more advanced GPS usage.


OFFSHORE NAVIGATION (Junior Navigation) teaches the basics of offshore navigation, including basic celestial navigation using the sun and offshore course planning.


CELESTIAL NAVIGATION - Advanced Offshore Navigation is the most advanced navigation course taught by USPS, covering more advanced celestial navigation techniques, emergency navigation, and additional sight reduction techniques.


These classes build one upon the other as represented by the S, P, AP, JN and N letters following people's names.

Seattle Boating Education

The Electives do not have any prerequisites or preferred order, although Seamanship is usually taken first.  

Elective Courses

Elective Courses cover separate and independent topics and therefore may be taken in any order according to a person's interests and time, although the Seamanship course is recommended first.


Engine Maintenance covers the operating principles and basic care and maintenance of outboard and inboard engines, including diesels.


Marine Electronics covers installation and maintenance of both boat electrical systems (AC and DC) and marine electronics (VHF radio, radar, GPS, etc).


Cruise Planning covers topics of interest for someone planning a cruise – whether for just a weekend or for a year – including preparation and planning, anchoring, security, chartering, and cruising outside the US.


Weather covers weather systems, patterns and forecasting.


Sail covers everything from the basic elements of how a sailboat works to sail trim, rig tuning, and sailboat racing.

Instructor Development teaches effective communication skills for not only USPS instructors but everyone, covering various methods of presenting information to others, effective use of audiovisual aids (including PowerPoint), etc.

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