The table below shows how all of our courses and seminars map into different certification levels within America's Boating Club. Vertical columns show the different Boat Operator Certification Levels, progressing from left to right. Rows indicate related courses or sequences of courses that are often classified together. Once a student has completed all of the courses, seminars and skill demonstrations in a column, they can receive the Boat Operator Certification listed at the top of the column.

Completion of each course in the Navigation Series will result in the award of a "Grade" (shown below each course name). Each grade after "Seaman" has the prerequisite of the grade to the left of it in order to be awarded.

The Educational Proficiency Award is given to students who attain the grade of "Advanced Pilot" and complete at least three elective courses.

The Educational Achievement Award, also known as a "Full Certificate", is awarded to students who attain the grade of "Navigator" and complete all of the elective courses. Recipients of this award are then awarded a grade of "Senior Navigator".


Inland Navigator

Coastal Navigator

Advanced Coastal Navigator

Offshore Navigator




Boat Handling

Marine Navigation

Advanced Marine Navigation 
  Advanced Pilot

Offshore Navigation 
  Junior Navigator

Celestial Navigation 




Marine Electrical Systems

Marine Communications Systems

Marine Navigation Systems


Engine Maintenance


Cruise Planning



NASBLA Approved Boating Course




Operations Training





Instructor Development


How To Use A Chart

Tides & Currents

Emergencies On Board

Computer Weather Forecasting

Instructor Recertification

VHF/DSC Marine Radios

Rules of the Road

Marine Radar

Thunderstorms / Severe Weather

Boating on Rivers, Locks & Lakes

Using GPS





Onboard Weather Forecasting

Mariner’s Compass






First Aid

First Aid

First Aid






Basic Powerboat Handling

Coastal Navigation

Advanced Coastal Navigation

Offshore Navigation


Fire Extinguishers




* Course titles in italics are not offered by America's Boating Club. Sign up with for these courses with your local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association for these courses. 

May 2022

01 Finger Lakes Drum May issue publication date.
01 The Deep 6 spring issue publication date. (D/6)
02 Sail class begins, Schuyler County Human Resource Complex, Montour Falls, NY (1900)
10 Bridge Meeting (1900)
11 Spring Social Event, Seneca Wine & Cheese Company, Watkins Glen, NY (1800)
21-27 Safe Boating Week (National)

June 2022

14 Bridge Meeting (1900)
17 Deadline for Drum Articles

July 2022

01 Finger Lakes Drum July issue publication date.
11 Engine Maintenance course begins. (1900)
12 Bridge Meeting (1900).
22 Deadline for The Deep 6 articles. (D/6)
29-31 Summer Rendezvous, Sampson State Park Marina.

August 2022

01 The Deep 6 summer issue publication date. (Delayed to cover Rendezvous activities.) (D/6)
09 Bridge Meeting (1900)
26 Deadline for Drum Articles

September 2022

01 Finger Lakes Drum September issue publication date.
11-18 National Governing Board Meeting, Raleigh, NC. (National)
13 Bridge Meeting (1900)

October 2022

11 Bridge Meeting (1900)
15 Deadline for The Deep 6 articles (D/6)
21 Deadline for Drum articles.
TBA District 6 Fall Council & Conference (D/6)

November 2022

01 Finger Lakes Drum November issue publication date
01 The Deep 6 fall issue publication date. (May be delayed to cover Conference activities.) (D/6)
08 Bridge Meeting (1900)

December 2022

16 Deadline for Drum articles.

January 2023

01 Finger Lakes Drum January issue publication date
10 Bridge Meeting (1900)
15 Finger Lakes Change of Watch, Online/Virtual (1300).
20 Deadline for D/6 The Deep 6 articles. (D/6)

February 2023

01 The Deep 6 winter issue publication date. (D/6)
08 Bridge Meeting (1900)
19-26 USPS Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (National)
20 Deadline for Drum articles.

March 2023

01 Finger Lakes Drum March issue publication date.
14 Bridge Meeting (1900)

April 2023

11 Bridge Meeting (1900)
14 Deadline for The Deep 6 articles (D/6)
21 Deadline for Drum articles.
TBA District 6 Spring Councel & Conference (D/6)


Advanced Grades

The courses that compose the core of the USPS educational program are known as the Advanced Grades courses. Completion of these courses is recognized with the award of a \"grade\" that can be thought of as being similar to the various degrees one can get from traditional educational facilities. The numbering below is the suggested sequencing for these classes.

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The Finger Lakes Chapter has a comprehensive education program with a wide variety of formal and informal courses from which to choose. These courses can be divided as follows:

  • America's Boating Course: Entry-level boater safety course to get your state boater safety card.
  • Advanced Grades: Courses that deal with general boat handling and navigational skills.
  • Electives: Formal courses that deal with a wide variety of boating subjects.
  • Seminars: Short (2-4 hour) sessions that focus on a single topic.
  • Boat Operator Certification (BOC): Programs designed to integrate classroom and hands-on elements.
  • Home-Grown: Informal, hands-on sessions on specialized topics not covered by the formal USPS educational program.

America's Boating Course

Get your state boating card and learn the skills you need to be safe while boating. Take the finest National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) recognized boating safety course available. By enrolling in the America\'s Boating course you will learn navigation rules, water sports safety and other valuable boater safety skills.

Navigation Courses

The courses that compose the core of the ABC educational program are known as the Advanced Grades courses. Completion of these courses is recognized with the award of a "grade" that can be thought of as being similar to the various degrees one can get from traditional educational facilities.

The courses offered in the Advanced Grades sequence are:

  • Boat Handling: General boat handling and seamanship skills.
  • Marine Navigation / Piloting: Introductory course on navigation with a focus on GPS and traditional dead reckoning skills suitable for use on inland waters and protected waters.
  • Advanced Marine Navigation / Advanced Piloting: An extension of the Marine Navigation course covering other electronic navigation tools along with traditional methods suitable for use on longer trips in coastal waters.
  • Offshore Navigation / Junior Navigation: An introduction to offshore navigation utilizing both electronic and traditional techniques. This course is the introduction to celestial navigation in which the sun is used to determine one's position in the absence of electronic aids.
  • Celestial Navigation / Navigation: A continuation of Offshore Navigation in which traditional celestial navigation skills are extended to include the use of the moon, planets and stars. 


Electives are a collection of formal, classroom-based courses covering popular boating subjects that can, generally, be taken in any order. These include:

  • Weather: An intensive introduction to meteorology and weather forecasting as it applies to boaters. This is a college-level course that will make you appreciate just how difficult your local weatherman's job is.
  • Sail: A course on the art and science of sail.
  • Cruising & Cruise Planning: A fun class to help guide you to plan your next trip, whether it is for an afternoon sail or for a passage across an ocean.
  • Engine Maintenance: A basic class on those iron beasts in the bowels of our vessels that make them move. 
  • Marine Electrical Systems: An in-depth look at the electrical systems that power the lights, instruments and other devices aboard our vessels.
  • Marine Communication Systems: An in-depth look at the various communication systems available for the marine environment, from the simple marine VHF radio to elaborate satellite-based systems for global connectivity.
  • Marine Navigation Systems: A look at the digital systems primarily used for instrumentation and navigation aboard the contemporary cruising vessel. 
  • Instructor Development: A class for anyone wishing to become a certified USPS instructor. Aside from covering effective public speaking skills, it also touches on accommodating students with special educational needs.
  • Operations Training: A short class recommended for all USPS members who wish to understand how the USPS is organized and how business is conducted by the organization and its various committees.


Seminars are short (2-4 hour) sessions intended to present a specific topic to interested students. The number of seminars available increases steadily as new presentation materials are developed.

Current seminar topics available include:

  • Advanced Powerboat Handling
  • AIS Electronics for Boaters
  • Anchoring
  • Basic Weather and Forecasting
  • Boat Handling Under Power
  • Boating on Rivers, Locks and Lakes
  • Crew At The Helm (formerly Partner In Command)
  • Crossing Borders
  • Emergencies on Board
  • Fuel and Boating
  • How to Use A Chart
  • How to Use GPS
  • Hurricane Preparation for Boaters
  • Introduction to Navigation
  • Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners
  • Man Overboard
  • Marine RADAR
  • Mastering the Rules of the Road
  • Partner in Command
  • Planning Your Cruise
  • Practical On The Water Training
  • Propane Systems on Your Boat
  • Tides and Currents
  • Trailering Your Boat
  • Using GPS
  • Using VHF and VHF/DSC Marine Radio
  • Weather for Boaters

Seminar topics coming soon:

  • Heavy Weather Sailing
  • Using Digital Charts

Home-Grown Informal Instruction

These are informal tutorials that have been developed locally in response to requests by our membership. Some are opportunistic in nature, but all provide practical, hands-on opportunities for our members to learn new boating skills.

  • Boat Maintenance & Restoration - A 10-week set of sessions where students helped refurbish a small sailboat which was later auctioned off at a charity fund-raiser. Skills covered included working with fiberglass, painting a hull and deck, installing waterproof ports, sewing and repairing sails, refinishing brightwork.
  • Sailboat Repowering - These were several impromptu sessions for interested students to help a squadron member swap out diesel power plants in his 35-foot sailboat. In the process, students were able to learn about and participate in engine removal and replacement, engine bed considerations, motor alignment, typical engine hookups and support systems.
  • Marine Refrigeration - A 2-hour session where students obtained some hands-on experience converting an older boat's ice box to a refrigerator. Once the system was installed, the system was evacuated and charged with refrigerant and oil and then monitored for proper cooling. Different types of refrigerants were discussed along with the logistics and compromises of installation.

Boat Operator Certification

Courses, electives and seminars are grouped into four families and complimented with skill demonstrations (i.e., hands-on tests) to create certification programs that are recognized internationally. Certification levels available to members are the following:

  • Inland Navigator (IN)
  • Coastal Navigator (CN)
  • Advanced Coastal Navigator (ACN)
  • Offshore Navigator (ON)

Details of these programs can be found in the BOC section of the Educational web pages on this site. Click here.

USPS Grades and Awards

Within America's Boating Club (a.k.a. United States Power Squadrons) we recognize educational accomplishments in several ways. First, there are "Grades" awarded to members for completing navigational courses:

  • Seaman - Awarded upon the completion of the Boat Handling course.
  • Pilot - Awarded upon completion of the Marine Navigation course.
  • Advanced Pilot - Awarded upon the completion of Advanced Marine Navigation.
  • Junior Navigator - Awarded upon completion of Offshore Navigation.
  • Navigator - Awarded upon completion of Celestial Navigation.
  • Senior Navigator - Awarded upon completion of all navigation and elective courses.

Awards also recognize additional educational accomplishments:

  • Educational Proficiency Award - Recognizes students who have achieved the grade of Advanced Pilot and also completed three elective courses.
  • Educational Achievement Award - Also known as a "Full Certificate", it is awarded to students who complete all of the courses offered by the U.S. Power Squadrons. This award is conferred along with the grade of "Senior Navigator".