USPS Seminars

USPS University is here with new programs targeted to a range of boaters and types of boating. The hallmark of this concept is the Seminar Series. These short seminars are targeted to specific topics and needs with a two-hour format, and valuable take-away guides. Each seminar provides credits toward the soon to be released Boat Operator Certification program, and credit toward elective courses.

These seminars are available now.

Advanced Powerboat Handling

Historically it took many years’ experience to be truly at ease and skilled at handling a powerboat. This skill was achieved over years of on the water trial and error experience.  What about the rest of us?  Here’s a good way to get there quickly and safely.  This seminar is a three-part series: Close Quarters Maneuvering, How Boats Behave and Seas, and Handling at Sea.  The seminar shows you how your boat will behave and why in response to your controls.  You’ll understand what the pro’s have learned the hard way.  This gets you there faster, and with confidence.  Then, on the water you can visualize your actions and execute them easily.  The seminar is often offered with on the water training for a complete experience.  The full-color book Powerboat Handling Illustrated by Bob Sweet is included as a reference.

Anchoring

This seminar covers selection of anchor, rode and components; anchor selection for sea conditions and bottom characteristics; deployment and recovery of anchors. It also includes tables for sizing an anchor and components, and information for determining loads under various conditions. The kit includes the Anchoring Quick Guide and Student Notes with copies of the slides.

 

Basic Coastal Navigation

 

Today, electronics have radically changed navigation, but understanding the basics helps you gain confidence in your equipment and your own skills.

In this seminar, you will learn practical techniques to plan, navigate, and check your progress on the water. You will develop situational awareness skills using your eyes and navigation tools to quickly point to your position on a chart, and be able to use backup techniques when the electronics become suspect. This seminar will help captain and crew navigate safely and comfortably.

The student kit contains The Weekend Navigator textbook, a Seminar Notes booklet, and Maptech's Chart Navigator Training CD, which includes software and digital charts to gain familiarity with this new technology.

Boat Handling under Power

This seminar shows boaters how to depart and dock under a variety of conditions as well as all about trimming the boat underway. The seminar materials include a waterproof USPS Captain's Quick Guide and Student Notes.


How to Use a Chart

Charts provide information essential to your safety afloat. Even with GPS and electronic navigation, the chart is needed to tell you what is around you and between you and your intended destination. A system of symbols is used by cartographers to tell you what lies below the surface of the water and the depths of water. There is key information about visible landmarks and navigation aids to help you navigate your course. The chart also is your link with the GPS via its grid scale, compass rose, and distance scales. A brief introduction to latitude and longitude provides insight to the operation of GPS receivers.

The NOAA Chart No. 1 is the quintessential reference to chart details, but is very difficult to understand. This seminar walks you through what you really need to know in an entertaining and interesting fashion, and provides you with a Maptech Waterproof flip-fold waterproof Chart Symbols and On-the-Water Guide to take along on the boat with you. In addition to showing you all about your chart, this seminar walks you through the essentials of laying out a safe course, steps to measure a course with the USPS plotter, and even a quick guide to the rules of the road.

Hurricanes and Boats

This is a mini-seminar.  It covers how to select a location and prepare your boat for a hurricane.  The kit includes Student Notes with copies of the slides.

Knots, Bends, and Hitches

The Knots, Bends, and Hitches seminar is a hands-on "learn how to tie knots" program geared to a wide range of audiences.  The kit comes with a copy of the USPS Guide Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners, a copy of the slide notes and a kit including a die-cut knot board and two lengths of line.  Participants learn about knots, learn to tie a set of the most useful knots, and then get to take the whole package home with them to practice these and a whole host of other knots described in the book.

Marine RADAR

This seminar covers how radar functions, radar selection, operation of the radar under various conditions including setting of controls, display interpretation, basic navigation, and collision avoidance using radar. The kit includes The Radar Book written by Kevin Monahan ($25 retail) and Student Notes with copies of slides.

Mariner's Compass

The marine compass is still the boaters primary navigation tool, and an essential tool when all else fails.  This seminar explains how to select, install, calibrate and use your compass on board your boat.  You will learn which features are most important and what will work best for you, how to deal with variation between true and magnetic north, and how to adjust your compass to remove most of the deviation caused by local magnetic influences.  This is an essential seminar for all boaters.

Mastering the Rules of the Road

This seminar provides an explanation with examples of the 37 Rules of the Road for both the U.S. Inland Rules and the International Rules (COLREGS). It simplifies the sometimes complex law relating to boat operation for the recreational boater. It is a starting point for study preparation for the USCG License examination. This seminar includes McGraw-Hill's The One Minute Guide to the Nautical Rules of the Road by Charlie Wing and Student Notes with slides.

Onboard Weather Forecasting

Changing weather conditions can convert what was a delightful day on the water into a real challenge. Forecasting what weather you will encounter is one of the top priorities for safe boating. Should we go out? When should we come in? These are important questions, but some fundamental understanding of the weather can help you make these decisions. That’s what this seminar is all about.

While not a course in weather, this seminar explains how just using your own senses can help you determine what conditions you will encounter where you are. By all means, a forecast is important. It will tell you what weather systems are headed your way, but they are challenged to tell exactly where and when conditions will change. Add your own observations and you have an extra edge. Add a couple of instruments and you can verify your observations. The seminar explains weather systems, how to understand clouds and their changes, using changing wind direction, temperature, and pressure to hone in on emerging weather fronts. The seminar includes the McGraw-Hill Onboard Weather Forecasting waterproof Captain’s Quick Guide to take aboard your boat.

Paddle Smart

Welcome to the world of paddlesports.  You have joined (or soon will) the fastest growing part of boating.  According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, kayaks and canoes accounted for some 54% of new boats sold in 2006 – over 493,000 crafts.  Kayaking, canoeing or rowing are enjoyable opportunities to get close to nature, have a great time, and get some quality exercise in the process.  This seminar is intended for those about to join the sport and those considering purchasing paddling equipment.

The seminar kit includes several handouts:

  • attendee workbook for note-taking and reference
  • “The Complete Sea Kayaker’s Handbook” by Shelly Johnson (msrp $18.95)
  • Off-Season Boating, Cold Shock & Hypothermia tri-fold

Optionally available but not part of the basic kit:  “Introduction to Paddling – canoeing basics for lakes and rivers” by the American Canoe Association.

Topics discussed in the seminar include:

  • terminology
  • equipment—minimum and optional
  • using paddle craft—both kayaks and canoes
  • safety practices—including video clip examples
  • day-triping and touring considerations
  • and, a few statistics

Partner in Command

This seminar provides an introduction to boating for crew members who need basic information and who may or may not have taken a boating course. It is designed to provide essential information one may require to assist a skipper in the safe operation of a recreational boat. Included in the seminar are actions in response to emergencies. This seminar includes a text. A Knot Board will be useful to practice tying knots.

Pratical On Water Training

This eight hour seminar is a combination of classroom training and hands-on On-the-Water training. It provides an explanation of how your boat handles and why with text and video clips. Included are "Powerboat Handling Illustrated", a DVD, and a Student Manual.

Sail Trim and Rig Tuning

This seminar shows in clear and simple terms how to use and adjust sails for optimum performance under a wide range of conditions.  The seminar comes with a waterproof USPS Captain's Quick Guide written by North Sails and Student Notes

Trailering Your Boat

Trailering Your Boat explains how to select tow vehicles, hitches, and trailers. It also explains how to safely and securely trailer your boat, launch and retrieve it, and how to operate and maintain your trailering equipment. The seminar comes with an excellent new book Trailering Your Boat, written by Bruce Smith and published as a USPS Guide by McGraw-Hill. This book serves as an excellent reference on all of these topics. The seminar includes video segments provided by the US Coast Guard and excellent slide notes.

Using GPS

GPS has become a common tool for navigation. However using GPS on the water is distinctly different from a moving map display in your car. This seminar explains the principles of waypoint navigation which you will use. It then shows you how to relate the GPS to your charts which provide essential information about what is around you.

The seminar also shows you how to operate your GPS – what the buttons do, what the screens show, and how to access the functions you need. A handheld GPS is used as the demonstration model, but all GPS receivers function similarly. By the time you have completed the seminar, you will be able to store waypoints into your GPS, activate them for navigation, and use GPS to keep you on a safe, pre-qualified course of your choosing. You’ll also get some tips for choosing a GPS if you don’t currently own one. You will get a copy of the waterproof McGraw-Hill Captain’s Quick Guide Using GPS to take aboard to remind you of the steps, or to show another of your crew how to use your GPS.

Using VHF & VHF/DSC Marine Radio

VHF radio is the mainstay of coastal communication and essential for emergency communications. Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is rapidly becoming a reality as more Coast Guard Rescue 21 System operations go live. Currently, the mid Atlantic coast is operational with DSC. The Gulf region will be operational early next year and all Cutters will be DSC equipped by next year.

DSC vastly simplifies and improves rescue and routine call signaling – making it easier to make a call while the system frees up Channel 16 for essential communications. However, you need to know how to use it. This seminar answers those needs and explains basic VHF operation. A CD is included with a DSC Simulator that allows you to practice on your computer at home. A handy waterproof McGraw-Hill Captain’s Quick Guide Using VHF is included with essential information that you should have aboard, which will explain to anyone on your crew how to use the radio.

 

Courses Offered

ABC3

Advanced Grades

Elective Courses

Seminars


Learning Guides


Educational Calendar

Course Calendar


Directions to Course Venues

Mariner Square Drystack
& Marina - Alameda




Peninsula
Yacht Club


San Leandro
Yacht Club